South Asian Writers Your Teen Should Be Reading
By Sailaja Joshi
As a young girl, I was a voracious reader. It was this love of reading that propelled me into my academic pursuits, and later on in life to create Bharat Babies. While the books we make at Bharat Babies are for the younger kids in your life, there are several South Asian Women writers out there for those older kids in your family. Plus, those books are fun for mom (and dad) too.
So, here’s my list of South Asian writers that just tell the stories of South Asian in such beautiful ways. Creating this list was a trip down memory lane for me. As a teen, reading the works of South Asian writers truly helped me to see myself beyond just one, lonely Indian girl living in suburban Massachusetts.
So, without any hesitation, here are some South Asian writers that your teen should be reading.
I was coming of age just as Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake came out and…man oh man. It truly changed my life. I remember feeling excited that the story took place in Boston, the feeling of the mother as she ate chudwa made out of Rice Krispies. So much of this story reflected my own upbringing. A couple of year’s later when the movie came out (sadly, set in New York), I remember thinking how amazing it was to see such a beautiful coming of age story that was so easily identifiable for my generation. Jhumpa’s writing was among the first that celebrate the hybrid identity of living in the South Asian diaspora and, it’s a book that I still love to this day.
â The Namesake, in particular, is perfect for that teen who is looking to see a rebellious teen or a story that takes place in Boston.
Ok. Indu Sundarsean is an artist. In her book The Twentieth Wife, she paints a vivid picture of Moghul India that the reader just falls into. As a twenty-year-old, I loved this book because it provided me with that necessary escape from my corporate job reality. The Twentieth Wife is just the first in a series of book on Mehrunissa, written by Sundarsean.
The Twentieth Wife and subsequent books are perfect for the teen who is looking for a little something to escape from reality.
The God of Small Things. I remember reading this in the summer of 1999 and thinking to myself, WOW. THIS. IS. POWERFUL. There is so much about this book to love about this book. I think it was one of the first books I read that with such a complex plot line. I love the way Roy uses language to paint a vivid and emotional picture.
The God of Small things is great for that mature teen who is looking for a complex, non-traditional narrative.
Ah yes, The Mistress of Spices. I read this book soon after I graduated from college and it was a quick and amazing read. I love Divakaruni for her spellbinding story crafting that was set in the amazing Oakland, California. Divakaruni is a prolific writer and my other favorite book of hers is The Palace of Illusions.
Divakaruni writing is great really for any teen who wants to read the stories of South Asian characters.
In my middle school years, I was obsessed with Agatha Christe novels. I loved a good (albeit predictable) mystery and I think that’s why I love Nair’s work so much. Books like A Cut-Like Wound from her Inspector Gowda series merge the worlds of South Asia and mystery.
Nair’s stories are perfect for that teen who loves pulp fiction.
That’s my round up of South Asian writers your teen should be reading. Do you have any others to add to this list?
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