78 South-Asian Book Recommendations For OWLs Magical Readathon 2020 || A SARC Reading List

Harry Potter fans are aware of the awaited and loved Magical Readathon that is set to start on April 1, 2020. Deciding a magical career and undertaking the Ordinary Wizarding Levels (OWLs) are the main to-dos in this month-long readathon. You can know more about it all here and since every subject in Hogwarts is synonymous to a specific prompt, we have decided to recommend some South-Asian books that set with each prompt for readers who love to read diversely.

DECIDE WHICH SUBJECTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET RECOMMENDATIONS ON!

ANCIENT RUNES

BOOK WITH A HEART IN THE TITLE OR ON THE COVER

πŸ“– Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale

A young adult contemporary romance with a bisexual main character, set against a small town beach during the bright summer days. This can be a perfect read for those who want a good bi-rep, a handsome & artistic love interest, and a lot of scenes set in a coffee shop or on a shore.

πŸ“– The Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan

A contemporary romance that brings India’s favorite sport, Cricket, to the field by crowning a girl as the luck that can help the team win any match. The new skipper in this national team doesn’t believe in such luck and so starts the use of tropes that are great for someone who wants a light, quick, entertaining read. This book has also been adapted to a Bollywood film recently.

πŸ“– Your Heart Is The Sea by Nikita Gill

A poetry collection by the famous Indian writer, Nikita Gill, that focuses on trauma and healing that must follow. Like several works that has got everyone’s attention: Great Goddesses and Wild Embers, this collection also explores tough themes for those who wish to read something more realistic.

πŸ“– Sister Of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The author behind the famous Indian work, The Palace of Illusions, has written this contemporary women’s fiction about two sisters in the culturally rich setting of Calcutta, India. Appreciated for its romance, tragedy, and emotional exploration, this is perfect for a reader looking for the best in regards to these three.

πŸ“– My Seditious Heart by Arundhati Roy

Everyone knows about Arundhati Roy, an Indian writer whose works always spark new needed discussions, and in this 2019 collection of non-fiction essays, she tries to open a dialogue about justice, freedom, and rights in the present world. If you wish to read about oppression and oppressed, this can be your pick.

πŸ“– That Thing We Call A Heart by Sheba Karim

A contemporary romance with a Pakistani-American teenager rolling the dices to create a moving, honest story that highlights Muslim representation in a stereotypes-defying manner. With young adult themes being explored and Urdu poetry bound to win anyone’s heart, this satirical and sarcastic narration should not be missed.

πŸ“– A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev

An adult contemporary fiction set in the privileged Mumbai of modern-day India, a crime case to solve, and wholehearted romance, this can be a great pick to savor. This is the fourth story in the famous Bollywood universe by Sonali Dev.

πŸ“– The Obscure Logic Of The Heart by Priya Basil

A very difficult read that places a devoted Muslim daughter in a dilemma concerning her secret relationship. This contemporary fiction has been called bold and moving, impressing readers by a narrative that drives through three different countries.

πŸ“– The Colors Of My Heart by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

A collection by the famous twentieth century Pakistani (then: British India) poet that has been translated from the beautiful language, Urdu. While the poems might be complex at first, they are bound to enrich one’s soul.

πŸ“– The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem

An adult contemporary romance is the 2019 debut that focuses on a young Muslim-American woman with an Indian heritage. If you wish to read a protagonist who loves to let Bollywood influence her romantic dreams and honest humor, this can be your pick.

πŸ“– Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love by Elsie Chapman

If you want to read works by many authors but pick up just one book, this anthology around cultural delicacies and familial love can make your readathon sweeter than ever. It has the contribution of some amazing South-Asian authors: Sangu Mandanna, Sandhya Menon, S.K. Ali and others.

πŸ“– Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

A medical romantic comedy that stars an Indian-American teenager (the youngest doctor in her country). If you wish to read an excellent desi representation that has numerous food references, this can be a great choice to make.

ARITHMANCY

READ OUTSIDE YOUR FAVORITE GENRE

DYSTOPIAN

SCIENCE FICTION

HISTORICAL FICTION

ROMANCE

πŸ“– Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah

A dystopian set in South-West Asia gives you the war, disease, and gender selection tropes along with feminism. This work by a Pakistani writer has been compared to the great story, The Handmaid’s Tale, but with Muslim representation.

πŸ“– The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah

A young adult blend of science fiction and fantasy by a 2019 debut author of Pashtun ethnicity. If you’re looking for a corrupt government trope, a racing competition, and an underwater dystopian story, along with an ownvoices Muslim representation, pick this one up.

πŸ“– Salt And Saffron by Kamila Shamsie

The life of a Pakistani-American girl set during the disheveled times of the subcontinent’s partition in 1947. Tough themes like classism and judgements base don religion, this ownvoices Muslim representation will leave you moved.

πŸ“– Marriage Of A Thousand Lies by S.J. Sindu

Two Sri Lankan-American gays are stuck in a marriage with each other but have decided to date on the side for living their sexuality with a little freedom. This ownvoices work is truth laced with humour while exploring themes of race, sexuality, and nationality.

MEMOIR

HISTORY FANTASY

ADULT FICTION

F/F ROMANCE

πŸ“– I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

A memoir and recounting of the dreadful attack on the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner, this non-fiction is great for anyone looking for an authentic view of Pakistan, terrorism, and threats faced by those living on ground site.

πŸ“– The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

First in a duology by the acclaimed author, this fantasy set in 1889 Paris promises to give racial and sexual diversity bundled in the loved trope of a squad coming together for a heist. If this isn’t enough to make you pick it up, the puzzles and mystery should do the work.

πŸ“– The Body Myth by Rheea Mukherjee

Lined with cultural references to Indian apparel and cuisine, this queer literary fiction has a female protagonist who loves her husband and another woman. It has impressively surprised readers with the mental health and emotional themes explored.

πŸ“– Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

One of the best 2019 releases with the lesbian relationship sending every reader into a lovely mood. Based on the famous romance trope of enemies-to-lovers, this story told alternatively from the two POC main characters is a perfect spring read.

HUMOUR ESSAYS

HISTORICAL FICTION

LGBTQ+

EXPERIMENTAL FICITON

πŸ“– One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

A collection of essays by an Indian-Canadian daughter that are filled with witty observation and laced with humour. Said to force the reader to think about gender dynamics, ethnic stereotypes, and racial tensions, this can be a new but interesting genre for some.

πŸ“– A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A contemporary historical fiction by a famous name, this ownvoices Afghan story that spans decades has left everyone moved. With the cultural references bringing the post-Taliban time across the pages, various themes like motherhood and domestic violence are observed.

πŸ“– Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai

An ownvoices story by a Sri Lankan-Canadian author about a Tamil young boy exploring his sexuality while coming to terms with the racism rooted in his society, all during the Sri Lankan Civil War in the north of the country.

πŸ“– Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy

Told in parallel narratives, this novella is a work of realistic fiction that stars two nationalities and a love that knows no borders. If you wish to read a cultural contemporary with political commentary and experimental writing style supported by footnotes, this is perfect.

ASTRONOMY

READ WHEN IT IS DARK OUTSIDE

πŸ“– The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

With gorgeous writing and an imaginatively lush setting, this fantasy inspired by various Hindu myths offers a young queen, love, power, passion, and creatures that need to be fought. If you wish to read something with curses and destiny, this can be the best option.

πŸ“– Queen Of Dreams by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Told from an Indian-American artist and her Bengali mother, this beautifully engaging novel of magical realism is bound to leave you impressed. It deals with family, destiny, and dreams while painting a picture of an America that doesn’t need to be only white.

πŸ“– The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The story of a bi-religious, half-Hindu & half-Muslim, this middle-grade historical fiction weaves culture and tough reality. A painful read due to the vulnerable and tough themes being explored but a compulsory contemporary read for anyone wanting to be moved.

πŸ“– A Spark Of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

Inspired by Indian mythology and set in a diverse world of space, this blend of science fiction and fantasy is perfect for those who love morally grey characters, strong females, gods & goddesses, complex family dynamics and political intrigue in young adult.

CARE OF MAGICAL CREATURES

READ A BOOK WITH BEAK ON THE COVER

πŸ“– Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi

The first in the loved middle-grade quartet takes inspiration from Hindu mythology in a way that builds an adventurous plot and reincarnation of the five brothers, Pandavas, from Indian epic Mahabharata.

πŸ“– The Runaways by Fatima Bhutto

An ownvoices Muslim representation told from three characters whose journeys as they run away from the comfort of their homes tackles the complex and difficult themes of injustice, discrimination and extremism.

πŸ“– Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif

Beautiful poetic prose brings justice to the deeply moving story set in darkness, poverty and war. If you wish to read a powerful tale that deals with tough topics like American interventionism and humane themes of love & family, this can be you pick.

πŸ“– Half Gods by Akil Kumarasamy

A collection of short stories that brings ancient inspirations to modern-day settings. There’s an engaging theme of preserving culture that has been ravaged by war and moving themes of family & survival.

πŸ“– Things To Leave Behind by Namita Gokhale

Set in the beautiful hills of Naineetal during 1850s British-India, this historical fiction brings a young, fierce female to the front along with spiritualism and caste-restrictions. Told through various women of this time in the nineteenth century, this book can even bring tears.

πŸ“– Grimus by Salman Rushdie

A young boy becomes immortal in order to find his sister. But this doesn’t sum up the magical realism woven in this story along the lines of folktales, especially since this is the debut novel of a renowned name in ownvoices Muslim writing.

CHARMS

BOOK WITH A WHITE COVER

πŸ“– Mad, Bad & Dangerous To Know by Samira Ahmed

A young adult mystery that plays through two timelines as both a contemporary and a historical fiction. With a biracial Indian-French American portrayal and a Muslim representation, this upcoming release can certainly be a great choice.

πŸ“– When You Ask Me Where I’m Going by Jasmin Kaur

Contemporary poetry that has been compared to the amazing works of Rupi Kaur and Elizabeth Acevedo, this collection takes into account all the needed cultural conversations around important themes of sexual assault, feminism, mental health, etc.

πŸ“– Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbagh

Translated from the Indian language, Kannada, this chaotic story paints family dynamics with colours of privilege in the cultural society. Perfect for those who don’t want to get lost in a plot but wish to indulge themselves into realisations and reality.

πŸ“– The Beauty Of The Moment by Tanaz Bhathena

A young adult contemporary that offers diversity and topics like immigration and coming-of-age to the readers. With a dynamic Indian brought up in Middle-East and moving to Canada, and a Parsi boy, this romance will make you fall for it.

πŸ“– Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

A coming-of-age contemporary that impressed with an ownvoices Muslim representation as an Indian-American teen faces racism and white supremacy. With romance and religion building a character arc, this story definitely doesn’t need a filter to read good.

πŸ“– The Sun And Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

The famous poetry collection by renowned Indian-Canadian poet that dives into immigration, motherly sacrifices, and oppression while proudly standing with feminism can be a quick yet deeply thought-provoking book for this readathon.

πŸ“– Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella

Microsoft CEO recounts his journey from India to the leading organisation, proving to be a great pick for the organisational and/or technological readers who wish to learn the need for leadership and empathy or both.

πŸ“– The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

One of India’s contemporary classics, this debut novel won the Man Booker Prize in the same year. The classism running deep in the cultural society is portrayed through dark humour in this fiction that seems too real a story for the corruption-based hierarchy explored.

πŸ“– 21 Kesaris by Kiran Nirvan

A recounting of the Battle of Saragarhi, this Sikh versus Afghan historical non-fiction is brings war and patriotism in the same field. The love for motherland and our own is easy to absorb through the authentic writing and depiction of duty bound by religion & nationality.

πŸ“– The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

One of the famous works by an author of Indian heritage, this historical fiction binds different roles to be played in a family and the emotional responsibility to be taken. Praised for the writing and story-telling, the dark, deeply moving story is a strong recommendation.

πŸ“– Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif

Beautiful poetic prose brings justice to the deeply moving story set in darkness, poverty and war. If you wish to read a powerful tale that deals with tough topics like American interventionism and humane themes of love & family, this can be you pick.

πŸ“– Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy

Told in parallel narratives, this novella is a work of realistic fiction that stars two nationalities and a love that knows no borders. If you wish to read a cultural contemporary with political commentary and experimental writing style supported by footnotes, this is perfect.

HERBOLOGY

READ A BOOK THAT STARTS WITH ‘M’

πŸ“– My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

A Bollywood-themes young adult drama that brings a mixed-race main character to the centre, this contemporary romance is purely entertaining. With the themes of destiny and understanding culture as a second-generation immigrant, the contemporary can be perfect for a light read.

πŸ“– Mad, Bad & Dangerous To Know by Samira Ahmed

A young adult mystery that plays through two timelines as both a contemporary and a historical fiction. With a biracial Indian-French American portrayal and a Muslim representation, this upcoming release can certainly be a great choice.

πŸ“– Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale

Love letter to an Indian city, Mumbai, by bringing forward its changing face due to urbanisation and linking it all to the emotional investment through friendships and relationships. this is a debut novel that impresses with the fluidity.

πŸ“– Marriage Of A Thousand Lies by S.J. Sindu

Two Sri Lankan-American gays are stuck in a marriage with each other but have decided to date on the side for living their sexuality with a little freedom. This ownvoices work is truth laced with humour while exploring themes of race, sexuality, and nationality.

DEFENCE AGAINST DARK ARTS

BOOKS SET AT THE SEA OR A COAST

πŸ“– The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah

A young adult blend of science fiction and fantasy by a 2019 debut author of Pashtun ethnicity. If you’re looking for a corrupt government trope, a racing competition, and an underwater dystopian story, along with an ownvoices Muslim representation, pick this one up.

πŸ“– A River Sutra by Gita Mehta

Much like One Thousand & One Nights/The Arabian Nights, A River Sutra is a collection of short stories encased in an overarching story of a retired bureaucrat who meets many people with fascinating stories of love, lust, greed, and spirituality.

πŸ“– Small Town Heart by Lillie Vale

A young adult contemporary romance with a bisexual main character, set against a small town beach during the bright summer days. This can be a perfect read for those who want a good bi-rep, a handsome & artistic love interest, and a lot of scenes set in a coffee shop or on a shore.

πŸ“– Island Of A Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

Told from both the sides of a Sri Lankan Civil War, this historical fiction is all about family bonds, cultural heritage, emotional conflicts and everything in between and during a war. An exquisite writing that made this a long-listed selection for Man Asia Literary Prize, pick it up for unbiased depiction of atrocities.

HISTORY OF MAGIC

BOOK WITH WITCHES/WIZARDS IN IT

πŸ“– The Mistress Of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Filled with magical realism and romance, this novel is about a woman who is trained in the ancient art of spices and time travels. She sets up shop in Oaklanda, California, and unbeknown to her, she meets a handsome stranger and things unfold unexpectedly.

πŸ“– The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A middle grade novel with a magical adventure that begins with a boy named Anand: he helps an old man who gifts him with a magical conch shell that changes his life.

πŸ“– Magical Women by Sukanya Venkatraghavan

An anthology with fantasy short stories are lined with feminism and the coinciding love and rage. Inspired by Hindu folktales, the imagination hits high in this one while exploring important themes like political, climate, and societal problems.

πŸ“– Circus Folk & Village Freaks by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal

A collection of short stories told in a poetic format, this diverse fantasy fiction brings imaginative characters and realistic depravities together. Eighteen twisted tales that explore everything from LGBTQ+ identities to mental health, this can be a great pick.

MUGGLE STUDIES

BOOK WITH A HUMAN POV OR A CONTEMPORARY NOVEL

πŸ“– A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Shia-Muslim, Indian-American family navigates mental health, trauma, and spirituality on the eve of the eldest daughter, Hadia’s wedding.

πŸ“– We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia

A queer romance bringing together two Indian-American teens exploring their sexuality and questioning their identities. Tough with the emotional dependency on characters, this 2020 release has already made waves.

πŸ“– One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan

A book for which the author earned death threats, explores the lives of an infertile couple in 1940s Tamil Nadu, India. Despite immensely loving each other, the inability to produce a child, forces them to take some decisions that they wouldn’t have taken otherwise if not for societal pressure and judgement.

πŸ“– When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy

An auto-fictional story that deals with domestic abuse and how that leads to make a writer and examines a woman’s place in contemporary Indian society.

πŸ“– Bombay Brides by Esther David

A collection of stories that revolves around the lives of people (mainly women) of the Bene Israel Jewish community who are struggling to fit into the fictional world of the Shalom India Housing Society in Ahmadabad, India.

πŸ“– From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

An aspiring filmmaker finds her individuality in the midst of being an Indian-American teenager and a fierce feminist. With romance and friendships, this contemporary is easy to fall for.

πŸ“– A People’s History Of Heaven by Mathangi Subramaniam

Set in a fictional Indian slum called Heaven that is about to be demolished, this story revolves around five young feisty girls (and their mothers) who refuse to loose courage and cowed down by circumstances and rather tries to build their lives themselves.

πŸ“– Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love. An Indian trope of arranged marriage with a love interest that is highly inspired by the classic Mr. Darcy, this romance should be your priority.

πŸ“– When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

The debut novel of a loved Indian-American writer, this quirky college romance won heart right off the bat. With contrasting personalities and a tech-competition to ignite their feelings, this desi couple can make you swoon.

πŸ“– Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

A middle-grade contemporary that delves into identity exploration as a Pakistani-American ponders over cultural differences while the Muslim representation is being portrayed very well.

πŸ“– Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy

Told in parallel narratives, this novella is a work of realistic fiction that stars two nationalities and a love that knows no borders. If you wish to read a cultural contemporary with political commentary and experimental writing style supported by footnotes, this is perfect.

πŸ“– The Girl In The Broken Mirror by Savita Kalhan

A harrowing and touching story of one young girl’s coming of age while dealing with intercultural differences, abuse, and its consequences.

POTIONS

BOOK UNDER 150 PAGES

πŸ“– If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar

A powerful, semi-autobiographical poetry that delves into the generational of violence and the complexity of identities, through the lens of a young Pakistani-Muslim person.

πŸ“– The Poison Of Love by K.R. Meera

A horrifying yet completely absorbing tragic anti-love story that shows the toxicity of emotionally abusive relationships and how sometimes developing a fixation in love can be self-abusive and damaging.

πŸ“– Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbagh

Translated from the Indian language, Kannada, this chaotic story paints family dynamics with colours of privilege in the cultural society. Perfect for those who don’t want to get lost in a plot but wish to indulge themselves into realisations and reality.

πŸ“– Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy

Told in parallel narratives, this novella is a work of realistic fiction that stars two nationalities and a love that knows no borders. If you wish to read a cultural contemporary with political commentary and experimental writing style supported by footnotes, this is perfect.

TRANSFIGURATION

BOOK WITH SHAPE-SHIFTING CHARACTERS

πŸ“– The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

For lovers of Indian history and Hindu mythology where a soldier and rebel play a cat-mouse chase. With a slow-burn romance and amazing cultural references, this would make a great choice.

πŸ“– Lanka’s Princess by Kavita Kane

A narration from the perspective of Ramayan’s famous villain, Ravan’s sister who has been hated far beyond than any. An engaging writing that gives justice to a fierce and strong female character, pick this up!

πŸ“– Upon A Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker

For fans of Hindu mythology, especially the epic Mahabharata, this fantasy brings several characters to the story and successfully creates a book filled with action, romance, and power politics.

πŸ“– The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A middle grade novel with a magical adventure that begins with a boy named Anand: he helps an old man who gifts him with a magical conch shell that changes his life.

WHICH OF THESE BOOKS HAVE YOU ALREADY READ, HEARD OF BEFORE, OR PLAN ON READING IN THE FUTURE? IF YOU FOUND THIS LIST HELPFUL, CONSIDER SHARING IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA SO OTHER READERS CAN BENEFIT TOO!

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22 / she | a desi blogger who loves books and anything related to stories! focuses on south-asian representation in literature, a writer working on a hindu eschatology-based fantasy.

10 thoughts on “78 South-Asian Book Recommendations For OWLs Magical Readathon 2020 || A SARC Reading List

  1. I just subscribed to your blog and stumbled on this list and it is sooooo amazing! Will definitely go back to this post again and again for some South Asian author book recommendations. We need more of these! A lot of these books I haven’t heard of yet and I look forward to going through your list, Fanna!

    Like

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