South Asian Literary Fiction

It has been a terrific year. I graduated law school, got married (!), inched closer to finding my way home, and I’m looking at several long-term career options, including one in my adopted hometown of Suva, Fiji!

However, I haven’t read as much as I would like to because law school and studying for the bar exam kills any sort of creative thought. I bought my partner a Nook HD+, the Barnes and Nobles reader, but I think I may now start using it more than her. If anyone reading this blog is a Nook user, feel free to add me as a friend, email:

My list of things to read includes mostly all the recently-released, award-winning or award-nominated South Asian fiction that I can find on the web:

Jamil Ahmad: The Wandering Falcon*
Alice Albinia: Leela’s Book
Tahmima Anam: The Good Muslim
U.R. Ananthamurthy: Bharathipura
Nadeem Aslam: The Blind Man’s Garden
Benyamin: Goat Days
Rahul Bhattacharya: The Sly Company of People Who Care
Chandrakanta: A Street in Srinagar
Renita D’ Silva: Monsoon Memories
Roopa Farooki: The Flying Man
Musharraf Ali Farooqi: Between Clay and Dust
Amitav Ghosh: River of Smoke, The Glass Palace*
Niven Govinden: Black Bread White Beer
Sunetra Gupta: So Good in Black
Mohsin Hamid: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia*
Mohammed Hanif: Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
Sonora Jha: Foreign
Shehan Karunatilaka: Chinaman
Usha K.R: Monkey-man
Tabish Khair: The Thing About Thugs
Sachin Kundalkar: Cobalt Blue
Uzma Aslam Khan: Thinner Than Skin
Amit Majmudar: Partition, The Abundance
Kavery Nambisan: The Story that Must Not Be Told
Nayomi Munaweera: Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Uday Prakash: The Walls of Delhi
Anuradha Roy: The Atlas of Impossible Longing, The Folded Earth*
Nilanjana Roy: The Wildings
Saswati Sengupta: The Song Seekers
Shyam Selvadurai: The Hungry Ghosts
Geetanjali Shree: The Empty Space
Jeet Thayil: Narcopolis*
Thrity Umrigar: The Space Between Us, The Weight of Heaven, The World We Found*
Manu Joseph: The Illicit Happiness of Other People*
Cyrus Mistry: Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer
Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya: The Watch

I am going to stop there because the list grows longer by the second. I also want to write more so hopefully, 2014 will be the year that I release my first book. Maybe with the time not spent in law school, I can finally do something productive.

What are you reading?

Beats for Bangladesh


On April 24th a nine-story garment factory in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed. It is estimated that over 6,000 people worked in the building and as of today, the death toll is at 1,129. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building. Brands and companies producing their clothing in the building included Benetton, Wal-Mart, Gap, JCPenney, and H&M, among others. It is considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history

Friend of this blog, Taz Ahmed, in collaboration with South Asian artists from across the country, put this wonderful album together, as a benefit for the orphans of the garment factory workers. Notable names include Red Baraat, Vijay Iyer, Mandeep Sethi, and another friend, Shahid Buttar, who is incidentally a great musician while also being the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.

Taz writes on her blog:

For the past month I have been working day and night on my latest project – because ever since I saw images of Rana Plaza collapsed and all those people and
garment piled in rubble, I couldn’t help but think about how my garment industry owning Bangladeshi family may have been connected. And by default, how I as a Bangladeshi-American was connected. Sure, the family there was not directly connected, but they were part of the Bangladeshi garment industry complex that was feeding into the consumerism complex in the US that I as an activist was often fighting against. I knew I couldn’t save the people in Bangladesh directly, but I could do what I could from here. So I produced an album, with the help of one of my favorite musicians who executive produced & co-curated: Brooklyn Shanti

Way to go Taz.

The album is only $15, which is probably less than the t-shirt you own from Bangladesh.

Check it out here.

Where to Go and Where to Get Gifts for Diwali

I don’t usually do this, but I’ve several shameless plugs to make in the next few days, so please bear with me.

First, for everyone who is away from home this Diwali and does not have access to a local neighborhood Indian store, you can now check out eBay India’s new Diwalimicrosite. You can get a great selection of necessities for your Diwali celebration, and gifts for your loved ones, including Bollywood movies! They even have a special handcrafted section for goods that are made by artists in India. And for every purchase made from from Oct 18 – Nov 10., eBay will donate $1 to the National Rural and Development Association (NARAD), a non-governmental social service organization in India that provides self-help training, motivation and skills to farmers, women and youth, who work to support their families and keep these traditional Indian art forms alive.

Second, if you live in the DMV area, I’d suggest attending the Diwali Banquet on Nov 9, held by the GW South Asian Law Students Association. You are sure to enjoy an evening with an unlimited Indian Buffet, DJ, and Indian drum player in a great location. Tickets are on sale here.

Third, please donate to the Prerna Needs a New Bike fund. I am going to have a hard time doing my daily trips from home to the office, going to school, back to the office and back home again for a while, and any little bit would help.

The Dharun Ravi Verdict

30 days in jail. No deportation.

I’m thankful that a tragedy was not confounded by yet another tragedy.

The media seems to be hell-bent on portraying this as a lenient decision where the perpetrator has expressed no remorse. It’s nothing short of racism. There’s really nothing else I have to say about it.

I’m sensitive to bad room-mate situations, having been subjected to abusive, homophobic and transphobic remarks in my own home. No one deserves to be subjected to that. But no one should be subjected to 10 years in jail and deportation as a punishment for behavior that would have otherwise gone unpunished if the victim wasn’t a white cisgender boy.

I’d also ask the people sending me abusive comments to reflect on their own hateful behavior.

Good day.

Calling South Asian Youth: Apply for DC Desi Summer

I will be part of the team this summer in Washington D.C. Last year, I spoke at the Bay Area Solidarity Summer, the sister program on the West Coast. Please spread the word to your friends and family members, and if you are too old or too busy to participate, do consider donating!

Friday, July 13th to Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Washington, DC

For more information and to apply:

First priority deadline:  May 15th

**For young South Asian Americans age 15-20**

(with origins in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the South Asian diaspora)

Free (We cover meals, but participants arrange for transportation and housing). Limited number of scholarships available.

DC Desi Summer (DCDS) is a weekend-long youth leadership and empowerment program. Spearheaded by the volunteer DCDS Collective, DC Desi Summer provides a radical and inclusive space for youth of South Asian heritage to examine key social justice issues and take action! Community activists, advocates, and academics will facilitate workshops and activities that focus on topics, such as sexism, racism, capitalism, and the nuts and bolts of organizing for justice.

More information about organizers here.