5 South Asian novels you should add to your TBR
The South Asian novel genre has seen a significant rise in the last few years with many debutant novelists publishing some moving pieces of work. This post aims to be a first of a series in which UrbanAsian will suggest some of the best South Asian novels for its readers.
Kaikeyi – by Vaishnavi Patel
Vaishnavi Patel’s Kaikeyi if one might not be aware takes a spin on the Hindu epic Ramayan and gives us the readers an insightful fictionalised backstory of the Queen Kaikeyi. In this manner, Patel humanises one of the most misunderstood characters of the Ramayan through her clever craft of characterisation and plot. The novel traces the journey of Kaikeyi starting from her early years as a princess to her becoming the Queen of Ayodhya and eventually handling the empire. Patel’s writing is fluid and that is reflected in her skill of world-building which is highly immersive as we are transported to ancient India. Patel uses the character of Kaikeyi to critique the values of the modern nation state such as the rights and roles women in society. Therefore, the novel acts as a mirror in which we as readers see our trappings and flaws. All in all, this novel is one that should be read for its detail in its writing.
The Taste of Ginger – by Mansi Shah
Mansi Shah’s debut novel addresses the liminal position of the South Asian diaspora when they come into contact with the motherland. In this novel, Shah unpacks the dilemmas that diasporic migrants face when having to straddle between multiple cultures. This tension and the conflicts that it brings forth to its protagonist is worth reading. Furthermore, Shah writes her characters in a nuanced manner addressing topics such as alternative sexualities with sensitivity and highlighting the toxic attitudes surrounding queer identities within South Asian cultures. This is also applicable to text’s attempt to address caste and class politics within both the western and eastern social landscapes.
Blue Skinned Gods – by S.J. Sindu
Sindu’s novel Blue Skinned Gods is an immersive tale of how a young Indian boy named Kalki who happened to have blue skin after being bitten by a snake eventually gets trapped in the world of Godmen. Kalki’s father creates a fake story that the former is the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu to exploit the vulnerable. The novel deals with superstition and blind faith making its readers critically question their realities. The narrative and structure of the novel is not entirely non-linear, making room for many twists and surprises, all of which make the novel a gripping read.
Victory City – by Salman Rushdie