Manil Suri, Mathematics, Writes New York Times Op-Ed

On Tuesday, November 4, The New York Times published an op-ed written by Mathematics Professor Manil Suri that urges India’s government to see discrimination as both an economic and moral problem.

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In the column, Suri writes about Apple CEO Tim Cook’s coming-out essay in Bloomberg Businessweek and an unidentified 32-year-old engineer for the Indian software company Infosys, who as Suri writes, “faces a much bleaker future,” than Cook. Cook’s essay established him as the first openly gay C.E.O. of a Fortune 500 company. “The announcement generated considerable optimism that with his influence and visibility he would be a force for far-reaching advocacy in years to come,” Suri wrote. The 32-year-old Indian man was arrested under Section 377 of India’s penal code, which makes homosexual conduct punishable by prison.

“If India wants to become a true global powerhouse, its government should begin to see discrimination as an economic problem, as well as a moral one,” Suri writes. “Mr. Cook has characterized writing his essay as laying a brick for justice. Now we need political leaders bold enough to lay the rest of the path, so that millions of others like him can normalize their lives and explore their full potential.”

To read the full column titled “Exposing the ‘Bagalore Techie,'” click here.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, To Present at Kriti Festival as Author Guest of Honor

ManilSuriHeadShotThe Kriti Festival is one of the largest South Asian literature festivals in North America and will be held from September 25-28 at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Mathematics Professor Manil Suri has been named the festival’s author guest of honor and will be addressing the gathering on Saturday, September 27 in Chicago.

The following is an excerpt from the festival’s website outlining Suri’s accomplishments: “[Suri’s] first novel, The Death of Vishnu (2001), won the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize, was a finalist for the Pen-Faulkner, Kiriyama and Pen-Hemingway awards, and on the long list for the Booker Prize. His second novel, The Age of Shiva (2008), was listed as one of the best 25 books of the decade by the website Contemporary Literature on About.com. His third novel, The City of Devi (2013) was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards and won a Bisexual Book Award. The three novels form a trilogy based on the trinity of Hindu gods Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and correspond to the present, past and imagined future of India.”

For more information on the event, click here.

While Suri was in Chicago, he was also interviewed by WBEZ Radio about mathematics, stereotypes and homosexuality on the popular program, “Afternoon Shift.” To listen to the full segment, click here.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, in India Currents

The Indian-American magazine India Currents is a monthly publication that focuses on exploring the heritage and culture of India as it exists in the United States. The magazine is published in three print editions across the U.S. in Northern California, Southern California and Washington, D.C. and is also accessible digitally. It has the largest circulation among Indian publications in the United States.

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In its August issue, India Currents featured a cover story and discussion between Mathematics Professor Manil Suri and A.X. Ahmad, author of The Caretaker (IC, September 2013) and the recently-released The Last Taxi Ride—books one and two of the Ranjit Singh Trilogy. Suri is author of Death of Vishnu, The Age of Shiva, and City of Devi. The two authors discussed how Bollywood has influenced their writing. Below is an excerpt from the article in which Suri discusses how Bollywood resonates in the City of Devi:

The book is made to reflect on some of the larger-than-life aspects of Bollywood movies. The Superdevi herself arrives in one scene, she’s made up like a Bollywood star, and there are special effects and all of that. Once I got into this, the whole book became immersed in this Bollywood imagery….it was a deliberate playing with the genre. My book is about the end of the world seen through the eyes of Bollywood, and that was something I liked because it gave the novel the right flair. You don’t want the end of the world to be depressing! If you’re going to go out, go out in Bollywood style!

The magazine also featured a review of the City of Devi in which writer Jeanne E. Fredriksen wrote, “the story is beautifully told as an all-encompassing romance and present-day end time saga via alternating sections of Sarita’s and Jaz’s chronicles. Moreover, their stories internally alternate between past and present until there is nowhere to go but to move forward together.”

To read the featured article with Suri, “Bollywood Ties, Literary Knots,” click here. To read the review of City of Devi, click here.

UMBC Postdoctoral Fellow Evelyn Thomas Profiled in SIAM News

Evelyn ThomasEvelyn Thomas, a faculty diversity postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and statistics, is featured in a new profile in SIAM News, a widely read newspaper sponsored by the professional organization Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The profile was written by Mathematics Professor Manil Suri.

The article illustrates the challenges and opportunities Thomas has encountered over the course of her career and describes her motivation for researching her doctoral dissertation.

In the article, Suri also writes about the work Thomas has begun since arriving at UMBC for her postdoc, including starting a new epidemiological project based on the rise of cholera in Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010 and continuing work on projects with social engagement.

“I hope to communicate to everyday people that if there are problems they see in their communities: HIV/AIDS, gun violence, racism, sexism, homophobia—anything—a solution does lie within mathematics,” Thomas said.

To read the full profile in SIAM News, click here. For more on the 2013-2015 UMBC faculty diversity postdoctoral fellows, click here.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, Writes Washington Post Op-Ed

ManilSuriHeadShotIn a Washington Post op-ed titled, “Court ruling ignores India’s rich heritage of diversity,” UMBC mathematics professor Manil Suri critically examines the Indian Supreme Court’s recent decision to reinstate a 19th-century law criminalizing homosexual acts (Section 377), a law which had been repealed by a lower-court decision in 2009.

In his analysis, Suri draws attention to how the ruling “criticized previous judges for relying too much on foreign precedents in their ‘anxiety to protect the so-called rights of LGBT persons.'”

Suri argues that the foreign imposition in this case is actually the statute itself. He notes: “The statute was passed in 1860 as part of Britain’s colonization of India. Other former British colonies, from Malaysia to Jamaica, have the same law on their books, also labeled Section 377.” He concludes, “India needs to be reminded of its rich heritage of diversity, its historically liberal attitude toward variations in human behavior.”

You can read Suri’s full op-ed here.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, to Present Lecture at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery (12/7)

Mathematics professor and affiliate professor of Asian Studies Manil Suri will be presenting a talk on his “Trimurti” trilogy, based on the trinity of Hindu gods Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi, at the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian on Saturday, December 7, at 4 p.m.

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Suri, who is an award-winning author, will be discussing his use of mythological motifs in his three novels: The Death of Vishnu (2001), The Age of Shiva (2003), and The City of Devi (2013). His novels have been translated into 27 languages. The talk will also include a discussion with curator Carol Huh and artist Rina Banerjee. Banerjee’s work has been exhibited in India, Japan, and throughout Europe and her talk will focus on her use of materials to call forth the long history of migration.

The talk is free to attend. The event is sponsored by the Embassy of India and Freer and Sackler Galleries. You can find more information here.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, in The New York Times and on Public Radio

ManilSuriHeadShotMathematics professor Manil Suri has made quite an impact with a fresh New York Times op-ed ed that re-introduces readers to mathematics through an approach based in the humanities.

In “How to Fall in Love with Math” Suri writes, “Despite what most people suppose, many profound mathematical ideas don’t require advanced skills to appreciate.” One idea that he finds often intrigues people is the origin of numbers.

He writes, “Think of it as a magic trick: harnessing emptiness to create the number zero, then demonstrating how from any whole number, one can create its successor. One from zero, two from one, three from two — a chain reaction of numbers erupting into existence. I still remember when I first experienced this Big Bang of numbers. The walls of my Bombay classroom seemed to blow away, as nascent cardinals streaked through space. Creatio ex nihilo, as compelling as any offered by physics or religion.”

The op-ed received the maximum of 360 comments in its first day online and quickly became the #1 most emailed article of the day. Read the full op-ed on The New York Times website and stay tuned for recaps of Suri’s upcoming radio interviews on the beauty, power and mass appeal of math.

Update: After Suri’s New York Times op-ed appeared in print, he was invited to interviews with Joy Cardin on Wisconsin Public Radio (listen) and Michael Cohen on 1320 WILS radio in Lansing, Michigan (listen). Suri’s Times piece remains the #4 most emailed article of the month.