Discussion Post

;more desi mythology please

bookworm things

I’ll be talking more about it in another post, but Pragati @ The InkedIn Book Blog and Aditi @ A Thousand Words A Million Books hosted a FABULOUS series of guest posts in January where they invited a number of desi bloggers to talk about the representation – or lack of – South Asians in media. If things had worked out for me, this would have been a part of #DesiRepDiscussions, but alas! I had had a medical emergency at the end of December and was unable to take part.

Hopefully, this becomes a yearly thing?

But I talked to Pragati about using the idea I had had in another post, because I just wanted to get it out there. Put positive thoughts into the world, and the world will respond positively, maybe?

more desi mythology please

I have been recently thinking about it and – how have there not been more YA books about or inspired by the very vast collection of desi mythology yet? There are bits inspired by these myths in Roshani Chokshi’s books, I know, and Aru Shah is supposed to be about this as well.

But is that it? Because I cannot think of anything else off the top of my head, but if asked, I could probably tell you three series about or influenced by Greek mythology.

And that, my friends, is a shame.

The mythology we have is so rich and intense that it would make for such fantastic story-telling. From the vast epics to the more homegrown legends, there is so much potential.

I even have two suggestions of epics for authors to take inspiration from! Both very well-known, and both spanning decades of history, so you could take just about any of the stories from these years and spin out a yarn.

The first, of course, is the Mahabharat. You could write about the characters as they are, or you could write parallels with the warring families in perhaps a different setting. Something about Draupadi, who was married to five brothers, perhaps. Or focus on one of the brothers, and tell their story.

There is so much to tell and take from.

The other epic I have been wishing for a YA novel inspired by is the Ramayan. The story of a crown prince, exiled because of jealousy, and his faithful wife, and a younger brother that treated him as his king and god. Or perhaps Sita’s story after she was cast out herself, and found herself pregnant. Or maybe the story from Raavan’s point of view.

Again, the possibilities are endless!

Which brings me back to my question – where are the novels inspired by such a rich heritage and culture? There are parallels to our lives and our worlds now, and there is so much to offer.

Which myths would you love to see worked into a YA novel? What are your favourite myths?

2016-04-12 11:46


I’m Ara, a Southeast Asian writer who someday hopes to have published a novel, and who is currently losing herself in the worlds created by others. I love books and food and television and blogging and I get distracted and sidetracked easily.


  • Mikaela @ The Well-Thumbed Reader

    Ooh, this is so interesting! I actually know nothing about other mythology except Greek and Roman mythology (and only because I love Percy Jackson so much, and that was a sort of gateway). It would be really nice to have more of an expanse when it comes to that type of stuff; I know there are tons of retelling I would like, but people tend to go for Cinderella and Hades and Persephone the most, which can be told pretty quickly. ? It would also be nice to have fantasy that’s non-European influenced as well! Royalty tends to ge told very quickly, and it’s nice to read something different! ?

    • Ara

      Exactly! There is so much to choose from and tell. I would really love to see different sorts of mythology. Even mixed together would be interesting!

  • writingtalkswithatomato

    Have you read Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield? It’s about a (bisexual) desi-American girl who wrote a YA novel for NaNoWriMo about a teenager who falls in love with Yamaraj. The Yamaraj parts are a little ridic because they’re playing to YA paranormal romance stereotypes and Darcy, the writer, is supposed to be an 18 year old girl, so it’s not EXACTLY what you’re looking for but it might be an interesting read.

    There’s also bits in the book where they talk about how Darcy as a writer is Indian, wrote a story that had a lot of basis in Indian mythology, but her protagonist (not Yamaraj) is white and why she made that choice and whether the person who calls her out on that should be calling her out on that and it almost felt a little meta because in real life this book is being written by a white guy (Scott Westerfield) and it’s like he’s sort of going, “I’m doing the best I can with this but I’m not really sure *I* have a right to be doing it or that I’m not messing it up.” Which he might have been, I’m not sure.

    ANYWAY. It’s a very interesting read as a writer, as a NaNo participant, as someone interested in writing diversely, and it has a sort of meta touch of I believe hindu? mythology. I enjoyed it. (She also talks about how she modeled Yamaraj’s appearance in the book after a Bollywood actor she really liked, but I don’t remember if the book ever said who that actor was.) But I’d love to read more books that are properly based in desi mythology because I’ve heard so much about it from you but as you said, there aren’t a lot of YA books out there about that.

    • Ara

      I’ve heard about Afterworlds but I never ended up reading it? I did not know it was about a desi-American! I am that much more tempted to pick up a copy now. It sounds much better the way you’ve described it than the synopsis on the back of the book, I’m going to admit.

      Also guess who wants to add desi influences to the prince and pauper retelling now? Lol.

  • Olivia-Savannah

    I personally don’t know a lot about mythology, and I know that I don’t! Which is why I turn to fiction to help me learn more about it. I have learned a lot about Greek mythology thanks to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, a lot about Norse mythology because of Marvel (admittedly) but I want to try more!

    • Ara

      Mythology is fascinating. Sometimes a little odd, for sure, but fascinating and there are so many story opportunities there! I hope we get more now.

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