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Celebrating South Asian Female Authors

Growing up in Australia, mainstream literature lacked strong South Asian female characters and authors to reflect our lived experience or relatable characters which help us feel a sense of belonging. While this is changing, books written by South Asian female authors do not get the traction they deserve.

Our Book Club is an initiative to celebrate female South Asian authors and their stories. It’s an opportunity for the community to get together, share and connect. Don’t worry if you’re not a ‘bookworm’ or if you’re someone who struggles to read. Our book club is for all types of readers and rather than focusing on literary critique we discuss and reflect upon the themes of the books.

Our members read select books by South Asian women and meet every 6 weeks to discuss key themes emerging from the book. These one hour sessions are a way to connect with other like minded South Asians and share your thoughts on the book.

Our next book

Though our focus is on South-Asian authors, we believe it’s important to learn from a diverse sect of society and there’s no better form of empowerment than reading from their perspective. Nadia is an Afghan-American author who writes about a woman’s freedom to control her own fate. ‘The Pearl That Broke it’s Shell’ is a story which follows two women, though from different centuries, share similar experiences with bacha posh – the custom of disguising yourself as a boy to enjoy the privileges that come with it. Join us on the 9th of December at 7pm AEDT.

Books We’ve Read

‘Untold: Defining Moments of the Uprooted’

  • Untold is a series of 32 short stories by South-Asian female-identifying authors reflecting on their experience growing up in America, Canada and the UK. This book touches on themes such as immigration, infertility, divorce, mental health and more.
  • Reading these stories has validated our experiences as South Asian women and we’d love to see more books like these published and gain the attention they deserve

Good Indian Daughter by Ruhi Lees

  • Ruhi is a Melbourne-based writer born in India. Her memoir deals with cultural clashes, abuse, personal reservations but is balanced with a humorous tone. Ruhi wrote this book as she set herself on a mission to confront the ingrained struggles of juggling her family’s expectations while also ensuring she gets to live for herself. Good Indian Daughter is an ‘honest and brilliantly funny memoir for anyone who’s ever felt like a letdown.’
  • Ruhi stirred up so many emotions through her story – joy, anger, frustration amongst many. Her book ignited an open conversation about guilt, self-love and preservation. We were thrilled to have her join us for a QnA session where shae shared many nuggets of wisdom with our group.

Are You Enjoying by Mira Sethi

  • Mira is a young writer from Pakistan who writes stories that spotlight humanity in its rawest form. Her novel is a series of fictional short stories set in Pakistan that challenge conventional ideas of family, sexuality, compassion, and identity.
  • While we felt as though the stories didn’t offer as much insight into the lives of ordinary people, it allowed for interesting conversations around power dynamics in the workplace.

When I Hit You by Meena Kadnasamy  

  • Meena comes from a Tamilian background and has dabbled in poetry, writing, translating and activism. Meena’s book touches on heavy themes relating to gender violence, abuse and isolation. The novel is a gripping and radical portrayal of Meena’s own experiences: from confident college student then published writer to battered wife. Meena has anonymised the main character as she claims her story is a ‘universal’ one.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergil Sister’s by Balli Kaur Jaswal

  • This novel explores how three sisters reconnect with their roots and each other as they travel through India on a pilgrimage to scatter their mother’s ashes. Through this heartwarming story, Balli touches upon forgiveness, gender equalities, sibling rivalries and more.

Deranged Marriage by Sushi Das

  • Sushi grew up in London in the 70’s in a traditional Indian household. Her best-selling memoir explores identity, belonging, all things diaspora and shines light on ‘one of the oldest traditions of Eastern culture’, arranged marriages. To escape the inevitable arranged marriage, Sushi flees to Australia where she still resides as a Melbourne-based journalist. Sushi’s book is funny, candid and so relatable that you’ll feel like you’re reading a book about your life.

See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur

  • Valarie is an activist, lawyer and filmmaker. She has degrees from Yale, Stanford, and Harvard. Her family settled as Sikh farmers in California in 1913 and her activism was prompted when her family friend Balbir Singh Sodhi was the first person killed in a hate crime post 9/11. Her book See No Stranger is a memoir and manifesto exploring revolutionary love. Valarie Kaur is a powerhouse who has united thousands and works relentlessly in protecting human dignity. Valerie’s book elicited a whirlwind of emotions, anger, sadness, joy and hope – we highly recommend it.