In his book Correctional, author Ravi Shankar frames his unexpected encounters with the law and the unraveling of his life through the lenses of race, class, privilege, and his bicultural upbringing as the first and only son of South Indian immigrants. Vignettes from his life, as a child in colorful Chennai; an angsty adolescent fighting against the model minority myth in Washington, DC; an emerging writer in Brooklyn; and, later, an accomplished poet and academic, set the scene for his spectacular fall and subsequent struggle to come to terms with his own demons. Many of them, it turns out, are also our own. At once the story of what led to Shankar’s incarceration and the revelations—both personal and societal—that came out of it, Correctional challenges us to rethink the way we view and treat the previously incarcerated, and to reexamine the justness of our criminal justice system.
Ravi Shankar is a Pushcart Prize-winning poet and editor of more than fifteen books and chapbooks of poetry. He has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, BBC, and PBS NewsHour. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.