Enter the Navel: For the Love of Creative Nonfiction (Chapbook)

“Unexpected, but riveting.”

—Subir Roy, retired Medical Doctor and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Master of Science in Public Health in Biostatistics, Reproductive Endocrinologist, and the author’s father

“Funny, gross, informative, and a fun read.”

—Dotti Roy, Master of Science in Nursing, Registered Nurse, Public Health Nurse, Certified Case Manager, and the author’s mother

“They say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Anjoli Roy enters mine through scars, in fact, our very first wound. In Enter the Navel, Roy delivers rhythm & inquiry. From the cutting of kinship to the consumption of placenta to filling innies with blueberries, Enter the Navel does more than list belly button trivia; it awakens connections between us, and with delight & focus, grapples with the ethics of ‘sticking things together that aren’t supposed to be stuck together.’ Shot glasses up with grandma’s orange juice! Read this with ancestors and slip slowly.”

—Noʻu Revilla, author of Permission to Make Digging Sounds and Say Throne, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

 This playful abecedarian offers a new perspective on the term “navel-gazer” by looking both figuratively and literally at the navel. Inside, readers will find antiquated and current dictionary definitions of “navel” woven in with scientific information on the curious state of lint and bacteria located there, including what humans have been known, disgustingly, to do with them (hello, navel cheese!). Also in appearance are Hawaiian and Hindu origin stories rooted in the navel that connect us, with urgency, to the divine; the role of the navel, our first wound, in and after human birth; a story of the author’s own regrettable 90s-era teenage navel piercing along with the plastic surgery that removed her mother’s navel, and more.

Styled as a self-referencing cabinet of curiosities, this chapbook is also a Rorschach for the genre of creative nonfiction, many of whose stalwart writers have been written off as “navel-gazers.” This text demands the reader be swayed to see what, in fact, is so good about looking at one’s own navel after all.


This text is published by The Operating System and is part of the 2020 Digital Chapbook Series, coedited and curated by OS collaborators Curtis Emery and Orchid Tierney.

Open Access Library release date: September 23, 2020
Print copies available for purchase here