5 Must-Read Books by South Asian Authors

the namesake

There’s no shortage of fantastic South Asian authors out there, and for National Reading Month, we here at the South Asian Buzz wanted to highlight some of our favourite authors. Well-written and moving, the books in this list are essential reads for any South Asian lit fan.

The Kite Runner (by Khaled Hosseini) – The Kite Runner is a heart-wrenching story that begins in Afghanistan with young protagonist Amir and his best friend (and servant) Hassan. The two friends are as close as brothers, but when something horrific happens, the friends are torn apart. Amir continues his life without Hassan, but years later he is called back to Afghanistan to become a saviour and protector.

Hosseini’s first book, The Kite Runner is a heartbreaking and memorable story. At times tragic and uncomfortable, The Kite Runner tells a tale of family, guilt, and redemption.

A Fine Balance (by Rohinton Mistry) – A Fine Balance is a haunting read that delves into the life of four characters thrown together during the time of The Emergency in India (an internal state of emergency that lasted from 1975-1977). The main characters are dealt a great deal of misfortune; they must face a corrupt government, gangsters, poverty and life in the slums, and tragedy and death.

Despite the tragic story line, A Fine Balance allows us a glimpse into what life was like during the Emergency in Mumbai and focuses our attention on what life is still like for those suffering from personal adversity while living alongside corruption.

The Namesake (by Jhumpa Lahiri) – The Namesake revolves around protagonist Gogol Ganguli,  the American-born child of Indian immigrants who identifies more with his American peers than he does with his immigrant parents. As he grows up, this divide strengthens as he legally changes his first name, moves away, and dates non-Indians.

The Namesake is a beautifully written novel about self-discovery and about what it takes to come back home.

The Twentieth Wife (Indu Sundaresan) – The Twentieth Wife transports us to the Mughal Empire in India. The protagonist in this novel is beautiful Mehrunnisa, who announces early in life that she will marry Prince Salim. Life, however, takes them in different directions with Mehrunnisa marrying another man and Prince Salim becoming Emperor Jahangir. The Twentieth Wife is the story of Mehrunnisa and how she will eventually become Nur Jahan.

The Twentieth Wife

This novel is set amidst a rich and illustrious time period and this easy-to-read historical romance allows you a glimpse into the courts of the Mughal Empire.

The Tiger Claw (Shauna Singh Baldwin) – This story tells the memorable history of Noor Inayat Khan, the real life air force radio operator working to aid the French Resistance. Baldwin takes liberties with Khan’s story, and weaves a tale in which Noor is not only driven to fight in the Resistance by a sense of justice, but also in an attempt to find her love.

While the story itself is only loosely based on true facts, the character remains interesting and will keep you reading til the end.

Ritu Sundaram is a Vancouverite who spends her days split up between writing, teaching, and being a mom to her two kids and fur baby. In her perfect world, you’ll find her curled up with a good book and a hot cup of chai, dreaming up her next meal. She loves sharing her favourite moments and her favourite foods on her blog www.happyblurrybeautiful.com.