After a lifetime of buckling to the demands of her strict Indian parents, Anuradha Bhagwati abandons grad school in the Ivy League to join the Marines—the fiercest, most violent, most masculine branch of the military—determined to prove herself there in ways she couldn’t before. Yet once training begins, Anuradha’s G.I. Jane fantasy is punctured. As a bisexual woman of color in the military, she faces underestimation at every stage, confronting misogyny, racism, sexual violence, and astonishing injustice perpetrated by those in power. Pushing herself beyond her limits, she also wrestles with what drove her to pursue such punishment in the first place.
Once her service concludes in 2004, Anuradha courageously vows to take to task the very leaders and traditions that cast such a dark cloud over her time in the Marines. Her efforts result in historic change, including the lifting of the ban on women from pursuing combat roles in the military.A tale of heroic resilience grappling with the timely question of what, exactly, America stands for, Unbecoming is about one woman who learned to believe in herself in spite of everything. It is the kind of story that will light a fire beneath you, and inspire the next generation of indomitable female heroes.
Anuradha Bhagwati is a writer, activist, yoga and meditation teacher, and Marine Corps veteran. She founded the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), which brought national attention to sexual violence in the military and established dozens of landmark policy reforms within the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Anuradha is a regular media commentator on issues related to national security, women’s rights, civil rights, and mental health, and is the recipient of numerous awards. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, Foreign Affairs, and the New Republic. She lives in New York City with her service dog, Duke.
Rakesh Satyal is a Senior Editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, and has spent more than fifteen years in book publishing. He currently sits on the board of Lambda Literary, the world’s leading organization to support LGBTQ literature and writers. He is also the author of the novels Blue Boy and No One Can Pronounce My Name. He lives in Brooklyn.