From Twinkle, With Love, Sandhya Menon – Book Review

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36373464Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

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#DesiRepDiscussions – Representation Matters

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Hey guys!

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!

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Representation Matters

– Aimal

Desis are one of the largest population groups in the world, with over 1.7 billion people and a diaspora that’s spread across all continents. But even then, desis are among some of the least represented groups in publishing, especially when you consider Bangladeshis and Pakistanis.

There are only a handful of desi books released in publishing every year – a number that’s, fortunately, increasing every year but still very low. Even fewer are books written by desis about desis, and those that aren’t written by desis often fall prey to stereotypes and gross conflation of the various rich subcultures within the “desi” culture into a monolithic, single dimension. It’s something I’ve noticed rather often what sort of desi stories are pushed by publishing (and movies, or anything – actually), and those are overwhelmingly what I call “oppression narratives.”

For desi teens to pick up books that promise them representation and only read how horrible their cultures are, how oppressed desis are as a product of their own cultures and countries is a concern. For example, Bollywood is a booming industry with hundreds of movies released every year, from every different genre imaginable, yet when you think about an Indian movie, what do you picture? Slumdog Millionaire, about poverty and violence. Pakistan has a huge fashion and entertainment industry with music that’s adored all over the world, but what media is hailed by the West?

Oppression narratives about terrorism and violence. These are, unfortunately, realities of desi countries – undisputedly, but they aren’t the only realities. And it’s concerning to me that mainstream publishing only likes to push narratives that tell desis of their oppression, and that focus on our “Othering,” while largely avoiding and/or not resourcing narratives that tell mainstream audiences that desis have their own identities, their own cultures, sure, but we are a diverse, large group of people who are people first and foremost.

There are, of course, exceptions. Some of the recommendations I have are Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed, and Fire Boy by Sami Shah – both very unique novels by desi writers. The first tackles what it’s like growing up desi (Indian) and Muslim in the United States, while the second is an elaborate fantasy about a Pakistani boy who finds out he’s half-jinn.

I treasure these stories with my heart and soul because they provide me with some semblance of representation that I so rarely see in any form of media. And I sincerely hope that with this new push towards diversifying publishing, desis aren’t left behind and we get more books about our lives, our experiences and our beautiful culture(s) without being told how backwards and oppressed we are.

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#DesiRepDicsussions – A Love Letter to Sandhya Menon

Hey guys!

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!

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A Love Letter to Sandhya Menon

– Kav

Discussing diversity in media is a prominent part of my mission as a booktuber. More importantly, I want to support and promote diverse content, particularly diverse YA novels. Last year, I had the honor of beginning my journey of supporting Sandhya Menon, an unbelievably talented YA author who writes about Indian-American teens as an Indian author herself. To this day, I can still remember the moment I discovered her and how that changed my world forever.

In the first half of 2017, Menon’s first novel, When Dimple Met Rishi, was released and I had the privilege of receiving an ARC of this novel. When Dimple Met Rishi was the first novel I ever read featuring a main character of my skin color. I still have an inability to express how my world changed and the happiness this brought me.

Since the release of When Dimple Met Rishi, Menon has announced two other novels, From Twinkle, With Love (out May 22nd, 2018) and When Ashish Met Sweetie, the sequel to When Dimple Met Rishi, two more YA novels featuring Indian-American teens. Each of these novels has the potential to change yet another Indian-American teen’s life the way When Dimple Met Rishi changed my life.

By writing about characters that look like her, Menon has revolutionized the YA world in terms of its Indian representation. When Dimple Met Rishi is the first mainstream #ownvoices YA novel with an Indian-American main character. This is thanks to the endless work of so many activists in the publishing world, but is also thanks to the endless work and talent of Sandhya Menon.

South Asian representation is rarely considered in the discussion diversity, as though places like India and Pakistan do not exist and people from there do not deserve to see themselves in media. Menon has begun dismantling this ideology by being brave enough to write what she does. Everyday when she writes, she is changing the world with her work.

I implore you to support Sandhya Menon in any way you can because the desi community needs your support. Support the woman who has changed countless Indian-American teens’ lives and will continue to do so in the future.

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#DesiRepDiscussions – Humanizing Desi Characters

Desi Rep Discussions

Hey guys!

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!

Continue reading

#DesiRepDiscussions – Importance of Desi Rep

Desi Rep Discussions

Hey guys!

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!

Continue reading

#DesiRepDiscussions – How I Hate Your Racist Joke

Desi Rep Discussions

Hey guys!

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!

Continue reading

#DesiRepDiscussions – Why Is Desi Rep Important? 

Desi Rep Discussions

Hey guys!

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!

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Why Is Desi Rep Important?

– Mith

Earlier this year, I had this idea for a contemporary young adult novel. I wanted there to be a ball. I wanted the main character, unnamed back then, to live with two stepsisters she had a strained relationship with and a stepmother that the three of them like not seeing. I wanted her to have a best friend that was the most important person in her life. I wanted there to be a romance… with a guy she initially hated. (Okay, well, more like strongly disliked. This main character can’t bring herself to hate anyone.)

I wanted it to be reminiscent of A Cinderella Story—a movie that is a classic, please don’t fight me on this.

So I called it #CinderellaStory for a while. A few days ago, I decided to call it something else: The Opposite of Love.

I’m bad at titles. Like, seriously bad. Same goes with names—we’d all grimace at the old names I’d called my characters. (Hoo boy, they were so bad.) But this was the first project that I’ve come up with a title for. A project that had the main character’s name, the best friend’s, stepsisters’, love interest’s… I even managed to plot some of it out! Pages of events, late nights with thoughts flitting through my head—

This project had a lot of firsts.

But one that particularly stands out would be that… the main character is Bengali. Like me. And her name is Jayna.

For the longest time, I thought that characters had to be a certain… something. A lot of books I read, back in 2011 and 2012, had main characters that were all white. There was never a main brown skinned girl, not one who got to tell her own story. It made me think that my stories had to be like that too.

Which, really. It’s ridiculous. All of that? Ridiculous.

So, yes. #CinderellaStory—The Opposite of Love—is about a high school student, a Bengali girl yearning to fall in love and doing that with the last person she expects. It’s about a girl who adores her best friend more than anything in the world; about a girl who’s unapologetically every bit of her, who loves everything that makes hermy main character, Jayna Das.

And it’s going to be a lot of work. A lot of writing, rewriting, revising, editing, all that jazz. But you know what? It’s the first project I’m super excited about. It’s the first project I want to get done.

This project is pretty much for that younger mewho thought writing about Jayna would be taboo somehow. To anyone else who thought that, too, once upon a time. There is no default, no set of rules you have to follow. Your story is something that’s not just wanted—it’s something that’s needed, too.

 

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