Over the past couple years, the #DiverseReads movement has gained momentum and people have become aware of reading books that are different from cis straight white characters. Because, this world is a huge place and there are many different people here that are not straight or white. They have been poorly represented in media for a long time and that has taken its toll.
Desis are an example of such oppressed voices. We have not been represented in a good light in the western media, but, thankfully, that has changed in the last few years and with emerging authors such as Roshani Chokshi, Sandhya Menon, Tara Sim, Dhonielle Clayton, Sabaa Tahir etc, hopefully, people will see us in a better light.
The purpose of this discussion event is to make others aware of the lush, beautiful desi culture and to tell them more about us. So, for the next few days, my absolutely amazing friend, Aditi from A Thousand Words A Million Books and I will be sharing various essays by desi book people – bloggers, bookstagrammers, twitterati etc for you guys.
I hope that you learn something new by reading what we have in store for you here and that you enjoy it. Thank you for stopping by!
Importance of Desi Rep
– Sarena & Sasha
First off, thank you for inviting us to your blog!
For us, desi rep in YA books is so, so important, not just because we are Indian, but because there are so few books out there that truly represent South Asian cultures and religions. There has, however, been a great shift in the past few years, especially with the WNDB movement. There are a few great books out there that have fantastic rep for Indian main characters, which is something we are always excited to see—the first that pops to mind is WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI, a super fun rom-com YA novel that hit the NYT bestseller list. What shocked us most was that WDMR is the first YA contemp with an Indian MC to hit the list (and prominently features an Indian girl on the cover).Another amazing (yet underrated) YA novel is MIRROR IN THE SKY by Aditi Khorana. This is one of the few books I’ve seen that features an Indian main character yet carefully weaves issues of race and religion into a light speculative fiction world. I hope more and more people look out for Khorana’s novels, especially her latest, a YA Indian Fantasy called THE LIBRARY OF FATES, which should be on everyone’s radars.
Our WIP focuses on an Indian-inspired fantasy world that is very much derived from our experiences as Sikhs. There are very few YA books out there featuring Sikh main characters, so for us, it is so important that our novel includes elements of our cultureand religion that are perhaps not as widely seen in mainstream media. A lot of this comes down to the vocabulary we use, such as words for food or different kinds of clothes. But anyone can add a foreign word and call it “diverse”—what makes our book important to us is that it demonstrates our connection to our own heritage (#ownvoices). Early on in the book, there is someone telling stories of magic and royalty to the main character; our grandma has also been a huge source of inspiration for this, because she always tells us stories—of her childhood, of different gurus, of Indian empires and leaders. Storytelling plays a fundamental role in our book, and I hope that we see more and more desi books flooding the shelves in the future (and maybe even ours!). 😊