I knew I wanted to be a writer since the third grade, ever since my teacher Mrs. Vallerugo secretly allowed me to borrow multiple books past the school’s two-only lending policy. It’s true what they say: to become a better writer, you must first read, and read a lot. Growing up, books became my companion. I preferred immersing myself into the fictional world of the main character and plotting story synopses in my head instead of playing with other kids during recess or binging television after school. But there was a part of me that struggled when I realised that much of what I was reading lacked diverse and inclusive characters and narratives. Where were the authors and characters that looked like me?
As an Indian woman, I gravitated toward Jhumpa Lahiri and Arundhati Roy, but I craved more literary role models that told stories about love, heartbreak, family, and beauty that I could relate to as I was navigating adolescence. Over time, representation in books has evolved, and there’s been a shift to celebrate the work of underrepresented communities like Black or Latinx authors and women writers. When it comes to the South Asian literary scene, there’s still a small yet growing pool of writers whose work is making deep impacts in the community and highlighting the wide range of topics that are familiar and key to the conversations relevant to the diaspora.
Here is a list of existing and upcoming books by South Asian female authors from both the UK and the US that exemplify core values of culture, heritage, and tradition.