As a child I was an avid reader of many English classics and fairy tales- I had a vivid imagination and a thirst for fun and adventurous stories. Yet as a child of South Asian descent, I couldn’t identify with the protagonists of some of my favourite stories. So no matter how hard I tried, I always felt left out reading Little Red Riding Hood or Jane Austen novels.

Fortunately, as I got older my interest in reading further developed and I found a whole new world of literature where often many of the female characters in stories came from similar ethnic backgrounds. Or, they also juggled multiple cultures, religions and traditions in the Western world as I did in my life. These characters grew up with the same Bollywood icons, the roti I ate as a child and the languages I spoke with my grandparents.

SAS’s 10 South Asian Lit Picks

Here are 10 of my favourite books written either about or by South Asian women and men. There are also a few books by writers of other cultures, in which the theme of cultural hybridity rings universally true. Even though we come from different worlds, your words spoke to me.

Thank you all for writing your stories- I feel at home again in my skin and in my literary world.

1. God of Small Things
By Arundhathi Roy

2. Behzti
By Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti

3. Namesake
By Jhumpha Lahiri

4. Reading Lolita in Tehran
By Azar Nafisi

5. The Woman Warrior
By Maxine Hong Kingston

6. Home
By Manju Kapur

7. Red Silk: An Anthology of South Asian Women Poets
Edited by Priscila Uppal and Rishma Dunlop

8. Obason
By Joy Kogawa

9. Killarnoe
By Sonnet L’Abbe

10. Sacred Games
By Vikram Chandra

What books and authors speak the most to you?

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