Michelle D’costa, a former Bahrain resident, is set to release her debut novel in the New Year.

The book is a tribute to migrants in the Gulf, who eventually must leave to go back to their homeland. It also highlights their dreams and struggles, with a closer look at the construction industry and the fragility of South Asian careers in the Middle East.

Michelle says: “My novel, You Envy the Coutinhos and other migrants in the Middle East, pivots around the Coutinhos, a Mangalorean Catholic family who navigate their identity as migrants amidst uncertainty, anxiety and homesickness. Cousins back home envy them for their picture-perfect lives, and dream to migrate someday. “Set in the backdrop of India and Bahrain, through the lives of the Coutinhos and those around them, the novel probes issues of migration, identity and belonging over four decades.”

Growing up on the island, Michelle’s poems found space in youth magazines. The books she borrowed from The Indian School’s library, where she studied, made her fall in love with stories and write her own. Winning writing contests spurred her on to pursue the craft seriously. Even though she’s self-taught and hasn’t studied literature formally, Michelle has been published in more than 70 magazines. In 2021, she released a poetry chapbook, Gulf, and currently makes a living teaching creative writing, and editing in Mumbai, India.

Speaking about her inspiration for the novel and why she chose the theme that she did, Michelle says: “In the books I read, I didn’t come across stories about South Asian migrants in the Middle East. I wanted to document what they experience in the Gulf.”

You Envy the Coutinhos and other migrants in the Middle East will be published by Westland Books (Tranquebar) and will be available on Amazon and other platforms in the New Year. Gulf, published by Yavanika Press, can be found online too. Michelle is also working on a couple more manuscripts. ✤