#OwnVoices Spotlight: South Asian Authors


On October 5th, a pitch event aimed specifically towards diverse writers and works called #DVpit, aired on Twitter. It was an overwhelming success, with agents, aspiring writers, editors, and other publishing professionals engaging and cheering each other on.

In honor of the recent #DVpit and the continuing #OwnVoices series here at YA Interrobang, we’ve compiled a list of ten South Asian authors writing their own and their gorgeous books for your perusal.

While compiling this list, I send out a call on Twitter for recommendations. I’d like to give a hearty thank you to everyone who helped spread the word. I received enough recommendations to make this particular #OwnVoices spotlight a two-parter. Stay tuned for the upcoming second half!

[EDITOR’S NOTE] I originally mislabeled this list as Southeast Asian authors; a special thanks to Angel Cruz for catching my mistake

Aisha Saeed

written in the stars aisha saeedAisha Saeed is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books, well as a mother, lawyer, and author. Her novel Written in the Stars was a YALSA Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. Her upcoming 2017 release is This Promise I Will Keep with Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books. On her website you can find an extensive list of South-Asian bloggers. Follow her on Twitter.

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study—but they will choose her husband. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. When her parents declare she must be married, now, Naila finds herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

Sheba Karim

Sheba KarimSheba Karim is the author of Skunk Girl and the upcoming That Thing We Call A Heart. Sheba is a chocolate fiend and prolific writer who has been featured in various mags, including Shenandoah, South Asian Review, and Time Out Delhi. Follow her on Twitter here.

Not only is Nina living in the shadow of her older sister, but she has the unofficial Pakistani prestige point system to live up to–the one she’s sure all aunties and uncles use to determine the most attractive marriage prospects for their children. All Nina wants is to experience life. Somehow she must find a way to do that while respecting her parents’ wishes and her own beliefs.

Ayad Akhtar

american dervish Ayad Akhtar is a YA author, screenwriter, and playwright. His novel American Dervish is published in over twenty languages and received a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Review. His plays include Disgraced, which won the 2013 Pulitzer prize for Drama, and The War Within for which he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay. Follow him on Twitter.

Hayat Shah is a young Pakistani-American in love for the first time. When the girl he loves begins dating another, Hayat is confused by his feelings of betrayal. His growing passions, both spiritual and romantic, force him to question all that he has come to believe is true. Hayat is compelled to act — with devastating consequences for all those he loves most.

Tanuja Desai Hidier

Tanuja Desai Hidier is not only an author, but abombay blues tanuja desai hidier singer-songwriter who has been awarded the South Asia Book Award for Bombay Blues. Her novel Born Confused was released in 2002 and heralded as the one of the 40 Best YA Novels by Rolling Stone. She’s held jobs from dog walker, to front-woman in a punk-pop band, to copyeditor. She wrote Born Confused in various London cafes. Follow her on Twitter.

Dimple Lala doesn’t know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she’s spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a “suitable boy.” Of course it doesn’t go well — until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web. Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability, and of course complications ensue.

Anoosha Lalani

the keepersAnoosha Lalani was born in Pakistan, which is the setting for her novel The Keepers. If she could have one wish, it would be to be able to fly into the worlds of her stories. Lalani has moved around quite a lot, and at the moment, attends McGill University. Follow her on Twitter.

Isra Kalb is left homeless after her father was mysteriously murdered and her mother’s mind corrupted by madness. She’s left with a commonplace necklace, the responsibility of taking care of her sister, and strange visions of monsters plaguing her. After her sister is kidnapped, Isra must confront her destiny or lose the only family she has left.

Sangu Mandanna

the lost girl sangu mandannaSangu Mandanna is the author of The Lost Girl. She grew up in a house full of books and wrote her first story about being chased by an elephant when she was four years old. She resides in Norwich, England with her husband and two young sons. Follow her on Twitter.

Eva’s life is not her own. She was made to be a copy of someone else, expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other,” if she ever died. When Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva must abandon everything and everyone she’s ever known to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive. When she arrives, nothing is as she expected, and nothing will ever be the same.

Sabaa Tahir

an ember in the ashes sabaa tahir pbkSabaa Tahir began writing An Ember in the Ashes during her nights as a newspaper editor. She grew up devouring fantasy novels and comics. She’s a graduate of UCLA, and if she could be anything, she’d be a space explorer the likes of Jean-Luc Picard. A Torch Against the Night, the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes came out in August. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

When Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia becomes a spy within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, she meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Sona Charaipotra

tiny pretty things sona charaipotra dhonielle claytonSona Charaipotra is the co-author of Tiny Pretty Things and its sequel Shiny Broken Pieces. Not only is Charaipotra a YA author, but she’s a journalist who has written for the likes of New York Times and TeenVogue. Additionally, she’s the VP of Content for We Need Diverse Books. Visit her on Twitter and Instagram.

June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose… and no one is playing nice.

Roshani Chokshi

the star touched queen roshani chokshiRoshani Chokshi is a graduate of Emory University, and a current law student. Chokshi is the author The Star-Touched Queen. She grew up in Georgia where she gained an accent she now only uses under duress. Visit her absolutely stunning website and follow her on Twitter.

Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya’s wedding takes a fatal turn, leaving her the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. But Akaran has secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk.

Aditi Khorana

mirror in the sky aditi khoranaAditi Khorana is the author of Mirror in the Sky. She has also worked as a journalist for ABC News, CNN, and recently as a marketing executive consulting for various studios including FOX and Paramount. She spends her time reading, hiking, and exploring L.A. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Tara Krishnan’s junior year at the school she attends on scholarship begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–and for Tara–will ever be the same again.

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About Author

Sarah Carter

Sarah is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. She loves writing and reading books where gay girls don’t die. She looks really, really ridiculously good in black. Follow her on Twitter at @StrangeWrites.

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