Thursday, December 31, 2009

South Asian Author Challenge

I loved our trip to India a couple of years ago. I am a glutton for Indian food. I read Indian authors. I have a real love affair going with India. So when I saw S. Krishna was hosting the South Asian Authors Challenge, of course I had to sign up. Reading about that part of the world will only allow me to armchair travel, but if that's my only option, it's not a bad one since there are so many outstanding South Asian authors writing now.

Here's S. Krishna's explanation for the challenge:

This challenge is to encourage people to read books by South Asian Authors – South Asia being India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Please not that it does not include the Middle East! The books can be from any time period, contemporary or classic.

There are two requirements for a book to qualify for the South Asian Author Challenge, both of which must be met:

1) The author must be of South Asian descent. It doesn’t matter if they’re third or fourth generation, or are only half South Asian – I’m pretty flexible on this issue.

2) The book must be about South Asia in some way. It doesn’t have to be set in South Asia, as long as it’s about the culture or history in some way. On the other hand, it can be set in South Asia and not be about South Asians.

As an example, The Blue Notebook is an amazing book about India by James Levine. But because James Levine isn’t from South Asia, the book wouldn’t qualify for the challenge.

Another example: Amulya Malladi is a South Asian author, but her book The Sound of Language wouldn’t qualify because it’s about a girl from Afghanistan.

However, the book The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar would qualify because, although it is about non-Indians, it’s set in India.

If you’re still confused on this point, please feel free to contact me and ask if a particular book would qualify for the challenge, or leave a comment on the list of South Asian authors page.

The challenge runs January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010

There are four different commitment levels: 3 books, 5 books, 7 books, 10 books

I am signing up at the 5 book level and figure I can level up as necessary. :-) There are no lists required to sign up but I have most of a list already created (with wiggle room, of course) so here's my initial plan at least, even if I don't end up following it worth a hill of beans:

1. The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal
2. A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman
3. An Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
4. The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
5. ??

I'm not entirely certain that Unaccustomed Earth is going to qualify but I'm sure I'll read it anyway, even if it has to be replaced to fit the challenge. And I do have scads of qualifying books left sitting on the shelves for that fifth spot (and potentially the third) so we'll just see where the mood moves me.


  1. Vikram Seth - A Suitable Boy.
    Cannot miss it! Its brilliant, though long.

    Shantaram (written by an Australian) is good.

    But, first recommendation is Seth.

  2. ok looks like Shantaram won't qualify anyway.

  3. If I hadn't already read and completely and totally loved A Suitable Boy, I'd definitely agree with you Aunpama! An amazing book in so many ways. I hope other people doing the challenge don't discount it because of the length because everyone who likes Indian literature should get the opportunity to sink into its pages and experience its beauty.


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