To research the novel, Sunisa leaned on academic books that started out as PhD dissertations, because they have the intellectual rigor to provide specific details that blossomed when situated in the novel. She complimented this with interviews with surviving student radicals on a trips back home.
Works whose tone, scope, and curiosity informed the novel are: Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, and Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.
The “large, loose, baggy monster,” as Henry James said, whose spirit inflects Sunisa’s novel is War and Peace. She didn’t do this on purpose, but recognizes that her novel also has two worthy men, one brilliant but too hard, the other dreamy, sensitive, and more astute, who compete for the hand of a coquettish, wonderful, untraditional woman.