Discussion Post

sarc2020 starter kit; where you could begin

A while back, I realised I was not reading as many South Asian stories as I would have liked. Maybe because growing up I couldn’t get my hands on many. The shelves of bookstores and libraries near me were filled with internationally published books – and almost all of them were white.

So it was a nice change when more South Asian stories started to be published in the ‘mainstream’. The first time I read a story that mentioned a myth I grew up hearing – the book was Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen and the myth was the story of Harnakash and his son Prahlad – I had to put the book down and just breathe for a second while I got my emotions under control.

I was twenty-four years old. This was the first time I felt completely seen and represented like this in a book.

After that, I was hungry for more, and I could not be happier with all the choice we have. Fantasies, science-fiction, contemporaries, historical fiction – there are so many books, and to know that my daughter will not grow up without seeing herself in the pages of books sometimes overwhelms me in the best of ways.

The creation of the South Asian Reading Challenge 2020 was an opportunity I jumped at to help host when Fanna @ Fannatality put the feelers our for interest. Not only has this reading challenge encouraged me to read more South Asian books, it has also given me a group of like-minded people I can talk to who completely understand where I am coming from.

The monthly themes and challenges for the SARC2020* (found on Twitter and Instagram too!) and chats have helped to reach a wider audience, and it has been wonderful for me to add things to my TBR.

*I was going to call this series of posts ‘south asian stories’ and then Nadini @ Novels And Nebulas suggested the sarc starter kit, and how much more genius is that?

If you are new to South Asian stories but want to try them, it can be overwhelming because there is so much to choose from. So I thought I would put together a small list to give you a jumping point.

Young Adult :-
contemporary; When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
(light and fluffy and so much fun, it is the first in a series!)
fantasy; The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
(this is a desi-fied Hades and Persephone retelling, and I love it.)
science-fiction; A Spark Of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
(this is a retelling of one of the most well-known Indian stories, the Mahabharatha, and it is set in space but still involves gods and magic!)

And then, of course, there are the middle grade aimed books – the Pandeva Quartet by Roshani Chokshi is a fantasy in the style of Percy Jackson, mixing mythology with the modern day world – and the adult books – Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri is a Mughal-inspired fantasy with the most delicious slow-burn.

(Can you tell I mostly read fantasy books?)

You can always turn to Twitter for more recommendations, because there are a lot of us who have Opinions. Be sure to use the hashtag #SARC2020 to get more thoughts though!

What are some of your favourite South Asian stories?

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.

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