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To commemorate this special month of celebrating South Asian heritage, we are honoured to have one of our favourite South Asian writers, Jasvin (@literary.beauty), share with us her book recommendations written by talented individuals of the South Asian community.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows - Balli Kaur Jaswal
This novel revolves around Nikki, a Punjabi woman born and raised in England. She’s a law-school dropout trying to earn some extra money by signing up to teach creative-writing classes at the Sikh temple to older women. Filled with laughs, love, celebrations of the Punjabi community, as well as some steaminess, this is a heart-warming novel that will bring a smile to your face.
As a Punjabi woman who grew up close to where this story is set (Southall), this story connected with me on a very personal level. Though the story is filled with humour and powerful female friendships, we also see several struggles of immigrant communities: clashing cultures, the foreignness of new land and feeling stretched between two worlds, which I found incredibly relatable.
Fig. 1 @literary.beauty
The Family Tree - Sairish Hussain
The Family Tree is a poignant story about a British Pakistani family, first introduced through Amjad who has just lost his wife and is now raising his son Saahil and newborn daughter Zahra alone. A generational story spanning over 22 years, the novel explores family, love and what it truly means to be human.
In this coming-of-age novel, set in Bradford, England, Hussain takes the reader through the complex avenues of religion, familial pressures, bullying, self-preservation and identity with elegant grace. There is an authenticity to Hussain’s writing in the way that she reflects on Pakistani culture, of growing up in the North that is the heart of the novel.
Fig.2 Cover of "The Family Tree"
A Golden Age - Tahmima Anam
This historical novel tells the story of the Bangladesh War of Independence through the eyes of one family. Anam writes of war, brutality and desperation, but she also writes of love and joy, food and song. A truly gripping novel that shines a light on a piece of history that is often overlooked in the Western canon.
This novel is a vital account of a historic event that is perhaps unknown to many people. Anam shines a light on these events and approaches them with care and honesty. Some readers may find the descriptions of war and violence harrowing, however there are also many moments of beautiful, sensuous descriptions of nature that transports us into this turbulent world.
Fig. 3 Cover of "A Golden Age"
Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home - Nikesh Shukla
Written for his daughter, five-year-old Ganga, Brown Baby is an intimate memoir that discusses – sometimes with humour, sometimes with rage – the world into which she, as a mixed-race girl, is growing into as he discusses important issues such as racism, sexism and climate change.
Shukla’s writing exudes warmth, eloquence and humility in this heartfelt memoir. The book is a declaration of love for the people in his life: love for his daughters, his late mother, his culture, writing and the world. My favourite part is the way Shukla discusses the importance of passing on cultural traditions and food as a way to cherish and connect to one’s heritage.
Fig. 4 Cover of "Brown Baby"
If They Come for Us - Fatimah Asghar
In this poetry collection, Asghar captures the experiences of being a young Pakistani Muslim woman in America by weaving together personal and marginalised people’s histories. It discusses how to grow without the guidance of a mother, questions of sexuality and race, and how to navigate a world that constantly puts a target on your back.
Ashgar uses a mixture of poems and non-conventional prose to reflect on the haphazardness of growing up. Each piece builds on the last to reveal a vulnerable, but beautiful, portrait of life.
Fig 5. @literary.beauty
Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur
This poetry collection reflects on life, loss, survival and femininity while finding sweetness in each of these as there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.
The simplicity of Kaur’s words is the true beauty of the book. Simple but powerful, Kaur provides a valuable voice to the experiences we all go through - pain, anger, love, and eventual healing. The lessons in this book, the strength behind Kaur’s words and the passion she has made this a wonderful reading experience.
Fig 6. Cover of "Milk and Honey"
Feel free to share with us any reads that you’ve been enjoying or your thoughts on these recommendations in the comments below, we would love to hear them!