South Asian Writers: Literary Fiction Choices

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I love South Asian literature. I know a lot of people who don't particularly like it - perhaps because they feel it panders to stereotypes - but the distinct voices of the characters I find in my favorite novels are some of the most colorful and memorable I've seen.

Anita and Me
by Meera Syal (of "Goodness Gracious Me" fame) is a lighthearted account about a girl of Indian heritage growing up in 1960s' England. Along with the normal trials and tribulations of adolescence, the book narrates its main character's experiences with racism in an England forced to accept its own changing demographic landscape.

Kartography, by Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie, narrates high society life in Karachi, Pakistan that only few have privilege to see. Narrating the lives of two teenagers as they are separated by studies abroad, the book gives you the feeling you're getting a glimpse of life in Pakistan that most of the world hardly knows exists. I wish there were more books like this.

The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi tackles the in-between identity of a half-Indian, half-British teenage boy living in 1970s England with wit and wry humor.

Both Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid and The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga have distinct main characters with sharp voices, even if they do hinge on the psychopathic.

What are your favorite South Asian books?

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