#DesiRepDiscussions - Existing Representation in Books by Enna


Hey guys!
Over the past couple years, the #DiverseReads movement has gained momentum and people have become aware of reading books that have characters that are not just cis straight and white. After All, this world is a huge place and there are many different, diverse people here that are not straight or white. They have been poorly represented in media for a long time and that has taken its toll.
Desis are an example of such oppressed voices. We have not been represented in a good light in the western media, but, thankfully, that has changed in the last few years and with emerging authors such as Roshani Chokshi, Sandhya Menon, Tara Sim, Dhonielle Clayton, Sabaa Tahir etc, hopefully, people will see us in a better light and begin to understand our culture more.
The purpose of this discussion event is to make others aware of the lush, beautiful desi culture and to tell them more about us. So, for the next few days, my absolutely amazing friend, Prags from The Inkedin Book Blog (who, really, put all of this together) and I will be sharing various essays by desi book people – bloggers, bookstagrammers, twitterati etc for you guys.
I hope that you learn something new by reading what we have in store for you here and that you enjoy it. Thank you for stopping by!

On #DesiRepDiscussions today, we have Enna, who is going to talk about the existing rep in books. What authors got right, what they didn't, what she liked and didn't. So, gear up and have fun!

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Growing up, Desi representation was something I rarely saw or read in Young Adult novels. No matter how much I loved reading about characters from other cultures and backgrounds, I always felt sad I could never relate to a character myself on that level. And when I did find books that had Desi representation, there were some things I loved about them and some I was really disappointed by.


What I Liked

  • The amount of detail some book had for describing Desi culture! I loved how our traditions and cultural values were expressed and represented for the world to read!
  • I really appreciated the amount of diversity I saw in the characters themselves! I loved to read about individuals who were Desi but were not represented by the stereotype we often saw on TV or in movies (i.e., heavy accents, taxi driver etc..)
  • Most importantly, I loved when characters need to discuss issues or topics that constantly challenged their beliefs and moral obligations (in regard to their culture); it illustrated how different each character was without taking away from their individuality.

What Could Have Been Better

  • The need for diverse books is great, but I wish they did not revolve around overused tropes or stereotypes, like arranged marriages. There is so much potential authors can tap into when writing about Desi culture, but to use tropes and stereotypes as the focus of the book’s plot is disappointing. I would love to see something different.
  • I would love to see Desi characters in more fantasy or sci-fi novels! While there are many contemporary novels and some fantasy novels written by Desi authors which represent Desi culture, it’s rare to find the same in sci-fi novels. I would love to see the same representation across multiple genres.


Before you go, here are some of my favorite Desi YA novels written by some amazing Desi authors and a few highly anticipated novels of 2018!
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Top Row (Left to Right)
The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (coming 2018)
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena (coming 2018)
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Bottom Row (Left to Right)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma (coming 2018)
Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

Connect With The Author:


What do you think of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement? 
Have you read any books/ watched movies that celebrate the Desi culture?
Do say hi to Enna ~ she'd love to hear from you!

#DesiRepDiscussions - Indians Are More Than Just Their Names by Sumedha


Hey guys!
Over the past couple years, the #DiverseReads movement has gained momentum and people have become aware of reading books that have characters that are not just cis straight and white. After All, this world is a huge place and there are many different, diverse people here that are not straight or white. They have been poorly represented in media for a long time and that has taken its toll.
Desis are an example of such oppressed voices. We have not been represented in a good light in the western media, but, thankfully, that has changed in the last few years and with emerging authors such as Roshani Chokshi, Sandhya Menon, Tara Sim, Dhonielle Clayton, Sabaa Tahir etc, hopefully, people will see us in a better light and begin to understand our culture more.
The purpose of this discussion event is to make others aware of the lush, beautiful desi culture and to tell them more about us. So, for the next few days, my absolutely amazing friend, Prags from The Inkedin Book Blog (who, really, put all of this together) and I will be sharing various essays by desi book people – bloggers, bookstagrammers, twitterati etc for you guys.
I hope that you learn something new by reading what we have in store for you here and that you enjoy it. Thank you for stopping by!

Hello! On #DesiRepDiscussions today, we have the amazing Sumedha who talks about how Indians are just more than their "exotic" names. An amazing post if I do say so myself and I hope you have fun reading it!
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Indians Are More Than Just Their Names
- Sumedha

Hi everyone! I'm Sumedha from The Wordy Habitat and I'm so glad to be guest posting here to talk about desi rep in books. 



Nowadays, there are a lot of Indian characters in books not written by Indian authors. And I'm super happy that we're being represented. Indians have become a huge part of the economy worldwide and you can find us in most places.

But even with so much mention, it's only the names. We see characters with Indian names or description which alludes that the character is Indian but what I haven't seen is more to the character.

Being Indian isn't limited to our different names, it's much MUCH more than that. The characters that I read about don't speak about Indian traditions or things that are normal to us. I see them portrayed as any other non-Indian character in the book.

Even when we see them as close to main characters, such as friends, I have never seen any mention of Indian lifestyle.

For example, here are a list of things that are VERY normal to us but I haven't seen mentioned at all:
  • Indian kids calling elders other than their family Uncles and Aunties.
  • Our penchant for very spicy or very sweet food.
  • Indian food, in itself, and our preference to it.
  • Our gods.
  • Our festivals, which we have an ABUNDANCE of. Diwali, Dussehra, Holi, Ganesh chaturthi etc.
  • Castes within us and different castes having different traditions and beliefs.
  • Our love for classical music. And I mean Indian classical music.
  • Phrase/words in an Indian language.
  • Bollywood!
I know that Indian families in other countries still follow our traditions and beliefs, and they really appreciate it as well, but I don't see any of that in books. The representation seems partial when you add an Arjun or a Pooja but none of their Indian quirks.

I completely agree that it's very easy to go wrong while representing us, but I bet any Indian wouldn't mind sitting and providing you details for hours if you ask.

To get you started, on how the smallest things can be mentioned but make a difference on the portrayal of character, here are a few things that have been ingrained into me as an Indian, of the cast Brahmin:
  • I am pure vegetarian. I have never eaten an egg or meat. People do, if they want to, but according to our tradition we don't.
  • I don't buy shoes on Saturdays. When I asked my mum years back, she said it was because Saturdays were somehow meant for giving and that you give shoes on Saturday so we don't buy them.
  • I also don't buy black on Saturdays because it's bad omen.
  • My family doesn't buy anything on Tuesdays. Why? I don't know, but I'm made to follow that. Basics such as groceries is okay, but we try not to buy anything more unless it's absolutely required.
  • Every time I buy something new, except shoes, I place it before (the picture/statue of) God and pray for blessings. Every time. If I get a prize, that as well.
And so on. There are so many things.

But this is what I mean by these small quirks and habits which I don't see in books. I'm not asking for exactly me to be represented, but I would love to see more than an Indian skin colour and name. Otherwise, it does feel like partial representation, I won't lie.

Just reading an Indian character saying they're busy and can't come to a party because they have a "pooja thing" that they HAVE to attend instead of another excuse, would make me unbelievably happy. All I look for is a sentence here and there.

I would like to conclude with the request to all authors to consider adding a little more to Indian characters' traditional sides.

Are you Indian, or just someone not American or British? Are you happy with your traditions etc being represented in books? What do you think about diversity rep in books? What would YOU like to see more in future books?

Connect With The Author:

What do you think of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement? 
Have you read any books/ watched movies that celebrate the Desi culture?
Do say hi to Sumedha ~ she'd love to hear from you!

A Beautiful, Diverse Coming of Age Story // ARC Review: Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Title: Love, Hate and Other Filters
Author: Samira Ahmed
Publication Date: January 16th 2018
Publisher: Soho Teen
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Diverse Book Bridge (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon US || Barnes and Noble || The Book Depository || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Kobo || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape--perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.
American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.
There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
 
“Some taboos cross oceans, packed tightly into the corners of immigrant baggage, tucked away with packets of masala and memories of home.”

I LOVE READING DIVERSE BOOKS that are ALSO #OwnVoices books because not only do these books usually have GREAT rep but I absolutely love learning about different cultures or different people’s experiments with my culture.

Even before the lovely people at Diverse Book Bridge got me an ARC of Love, Hate and Other Filters, Samira Ahmed’s debut novel was on my radar as one of the books I KNEW I would be reading. An Indian American Muslim teen and her struggles with love, her parents and Islamophobia? SIGN ME UP.

While Love Hate and Other Filters was a good book, touching at times with the #ownvoices-ness of the book really coming out I also had a few issues with it. Let’s break it down:

1.       If you ask me to describe what most of this book was about, I would simply HAVE to say FLUFF. SO, SO, SO MUCH FLUFF. Love, Hate and other Filters has that insta love triangle where everyone is VANILLA and perfect and so CHEESILY ROMANTIC and claim they ‘know’ each other even though THEY JUST MET and BOTH of the romances honestly did nothing for me. Both boys were SO FLAWLESS that I sat there in disbelief. It was unrealistic and this book should have had LESS ROMANCE.

2.       I understood Maya. I understood her NEED to find a place in the world and to do something she loved. I GOT her need for independence and freedom. And yet, by the time I was seventeen, I had LEARNT that it was just better to openly talk to my parents about most things instead of lying to them and shutting up and RUNNING AWAY. I got her, but I also wish she had been more mature.

3.       One of my favourite things about this book was Maya’s aunt, Hina. She was a SPECTACULAR character, an independent feminist that didn’t conform to societal (especially desi) pressures and her unwavering support for Maya and her own life was AN INSPIRATION.

4.       I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that we didn’t see enough about Islam as a religion or about Muslim Culture. Sure, we got pieces of Indian rep but there were NO religious thoughts or beliefs that we saw from Maya (except the No Pork thing) and that disappointed me.

5.       I’m not saying it was BAD that we didn’t see any Muslim rep, I’m only saying that there could have been a LITTLE LESS ROMANCE AND FLUFF AND A LITTLE MORE OF DESI/ MUSLIM CULTURE.

6.       These are all LITTLE problems I had with this book. I really really liked it, but with all the hype it’s been getting as a diverse book, I just NEEDED a little more diversity from it than what I got.


A beautiful, diverse coming of age story about a girl trying to carve out her own way in the world that I simply wish had less of a romance and more EVERYTHING ELSE. 3.5 Stars.
Samira AhmedSAMIRA AHMED was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. She currently resides in the Midwest. She’s lived in Vermont, New York City, and Kauai, where she spent a year searching for the perfect mango.

A graduate of the University of Chicago, she taught high school English for seven years, worked to create over 70 small high schools in New York City, and fought to secure billions of additional dollars to fairly fund public schools throughout New York State. She’s appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Fox News, NBC, NY1, NPR, and on BBC Radio. Her creative non-fiction and poetry has appeared in Jaggery Lit, Entropy, the Fem, and Claudius Speaks.

Her writing is represented by Eric Smith of P.S. Literary.
What are some of your most anticipated diverse reads of this year?
Who are some of your favourite desi characters in literature?
Have you had the chance to read Love, Hate and other Filters? What did you think of it?

#DesiRepDiscussions - All Things Desi by Maria Hossain

Hey guys!
Over the past couple years, the #DiverseReads movement has gained momentum and people have become aware of reading books that have characters that are not just cis straight and white. After All, this world is a huge place and there are many different, diverse people here that are not straight or white. They have been poorly represented in media for a long time and that has taken its toll.
Desis are an example of such oppressed voices. We have not been represented in a good light in the western media, but, thankfully, that has changed in the last few years and with emerging authors such as Roshani Chokshi, Sandhya Menon, Tara Sim, Dhonielle Clayton, Sabaa Tahir etc, hopefully, people will see us in a better light and begin to understand our culture more.
The purpose of this discussion event is to make others aware of the lush, beautiful desi culture and to tell them more about us. So, for the next few days, my absolutely amazing friend, Prags from The Inkedin Book Blog (who, really, put all of this together) and I will be sharing various essays by desi book people – bloggers, bookstagrammers, twitterati etc for you guys.
I hope that you learn something new by reading what we have in store for you here and that you enjoy it. Thank you for stopping by!

Today, on #DesiRepDiscussions, we have Maria, who is talking about various stuff, all desi centric. I hope you have fun reading this!
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Hey guys! I’m Maria Hossain and I’m a young adult writer from Dhaka, Bangladesh. This is my first guest post and I’m both excited and nervous too. So in this post, I’ll talk about six things (six is my lucky and favorite number). They are:

#1 Who I am & What I write and read

#2 My opinion on seeing diversity in fiction, especially characters from my background

#3 Diverse books that I read and loved so far

#4 My favorite writers of color

#5 My own writing

#6 How I think you can add diversity in your writing

I promise it won’t be a long post.

So let’s begin!

#1 Who I am and what I write and read:

So I’m a student of English language and literature of University of Dhaka. I started writing seriously from December, 2013 after I went through severe depression. Writing literally saved me from it. It saved me again when I fell into severe depression in 2015, and so you can guess, writing means a lot to me. I perceive it as my therapist, my knight in shining armor, my best friend and my passion.

What I write? Mostly young adult. So far I’ve written/brainstormed seven manuscripts, six of which have been shelved due to several reasons. I’m a very adventurous writer.So far I’ve written from contemporary to epic fantasy to steampunk fantasy.

I also blog about books, which I began to do this year . So far, I’ve reviewed around 15 books on my blog and I aim to blog about 50 books by June next year, before my birthday. I’m excited to tell you I got my first eARC from NetGalley only a few weeks ago and I can’t wait to receive more books.

#2 My opinion on seeing diversity in fiction, especially characters from my background:

Image result for an ember in the ashesFor a long time I didn’t see someone from my background in North American literature. Almost as if this world had no Bengalis like me. It was almost always white characters in my favorite books. So I could relate on some levels with those characters but not all.

So you can guess how ecstatic I felt when I learnt about diversity movement and attempts to diversify publishing industry more. My first diverse read would be An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and it was that book where I saw a protagonist like myself. I could relate so much. Trust me, if you’re from a marginalized background and you find a character who shares your identity, you’ll feel acknowledged and cherished.

#3 Diverse books that I read and loved so far:

Image result for roshani chokshiI already mentioned Sabaa Tahir. Her fantasy was the first where I saw characters from my background as protagonists, not a cardboard characters like in most Hollywood films.

Then there’s The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. The character felt relatable to me not just because she’s South Asian, also because she was forced to get married by her family, the way a lot of Bengali girls are, but like a lot of Bengali girls, she seeks a marriage of love and respect and to not let her life be only about marriage and childbearing.
Image result for the hate u give
Thirdly, I loved loved loved Karuna Riazi's middle grade fantasy, The Gauntlet, where I felt the most akin to the protagonist, who was both Bangladeshi and Muslim like me. This book is a must read if you wanna know about our culture.

I’d never forget to mention The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, for though this book didn’t have a protagonist from my background, this book is so poignant and touching, you’d not need to share your background with the protagonist. You just get her point. I’d recommend this to everyone.

Image result for sabaa tahir#4 My favorite writers of color:

There’s the Queen Sabaa Tahir. Then there are KarunaRiazi, RoshaniChokshi, Angie Thomas, TomiAdeyemi (whose stunning debut I received as eARC from NetGalley).

Writers of color whose books I’m excited about?

Image result for roshani chokshiJulie C. Dao, Nic Stone, Justina Ireland, HafsahFaizal, Sabina Khan (a fellow Bangladeshi writer), and many more.

#5 My own writing:

I already told you about my adventurous writing interests. But if you want me to pinpoint one thing in common in my writing, it’ll be that all my stories were set in the past.

Yup, I’m a big history nerd. I love everything historical and love to do research on my story’s setting.

#6 How I think you can add diversity in your writing:

Truth is, there is no trick. If you wanna write a character from marginalized background in your book, first you gotta make sure it isn’t because diverse books are published and praised a lot now. Diversity isn’t a trend. It’s rather a literary movement that encourages and emphasizes more diversity in publishing and more acknowledgement of marginalized people and their culture and experiences. So banish the thought that including a character from marginalized background in your book can sell it. That’s the most incorrect and harmful notion.

Second, if you want to write a character from marginalized background, do your research. Seriously, if you hate research but want to write about people from marginalized background, you gotta either learn to love researching, or write a white/cisgender/heterosexual/able character instead. There have been so many harmful problematic books about marginalized people it’s worrying. So do your research thoroughly.

Third, hire sensitivity readers. If you’re new to this term, sensitivity readers are those who are paid for reading a book and providing the author with honest feedback on sensitive contents of that book. If you can’t afford to hire sensitivity readers, then find someone who is an expert in those contents and offer to read their works (if they’re writers too) in exchange for sensitivity-reading yours. But do not think just because you’ve hired a sensitivity reader for your book, you got the safe pass to excuse your contents should they hurt readers. There have been several incidents like this. The thing you gotta do after you receive your sensitivity readers’ feedback is to go through them, ask their opinion on how to fix anything if there truly is some harmful contents, and adopt them. They’re sensitivity readers for a reason. They know more about those contents than you do. So be grateful, patient and don’t be rude or condescending.

So that’s all I have to say for now. Hope I didn’t bore you guys. Thank you for having me!

Connect With The Author:

What do you think of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement? 
Have you read any books/ watched movies that celebrate the Desi culture?
Do say hi to Maria ~ she'd love to hear from you!

Stacking The Shelves #35 - The One With Everything Maggie Stiefvater

Hi Everyone! When you see this post, I'll be flying out of town on the way to my four day vacation but, AS PROMISED, I'm managing to do a Stacking the Shelves post this week (WOOT!) I spent this week tied up with everything college - we had a few events going on there including a Media Summit and we even visited the set of a movie which left me time only to read one book this week *sighs*

Anyway, I got one MAJOR parcel this week that had me FREAKING out and fangirling that I actually had these books in my hands. So, without further ado, let's begin:

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tyga's Reviews that is all about the books you stack onto your shelves over a week (bought, gifted or for review)


FOR REVIEW:

From Scholastic India: 

1. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

2. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I've been waiting for over a YEAR for the Scholastic Warehouse to have these books back in stock again and I am so excited that they are finally sitting next to me right now as I type this out. I loved the first two books of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle quartet and I'm SO SO EXCITED for books three and four!
All the Crooked Saints
Also, I currently own them in HARDCOVER and the covers are gorgeous and... I'll stop ranting now. Expect reviews of these two very soon!


3. All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater: 
While I have heard mixed reviews about this book, and there were a few people calling it problematic out there, I've decided to give Maggie Stiefvater the benefit of the doubt and go into this book with an open mind and look for all the miracles it seems to offer!

ALSO, HOW ARE ALL OF THESE COVERS SO AESTHETICALLY PLEASING? I cannot even. I love all of them SO SO MUCH!
From Twinkle, with Love

From Sandhya Menon: 

1. From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon: Sandhya Menon's debut novel, When Dimple Met Rishi was one of my TOP books of 2017 and I loved every second of this beautifully Desi novel and I honestly believe it's time for a re-read already.

When she offered Asian bloggers an eARC of her book, I JUMPED AT THE CHANCE. It's sitting on my iPad, just waiting for me to pick it up, and I honestly can't wait for when I find the perfect time to.

A Quiet Kind of ThunderGIFTED: 


1. A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard: While this beautiful sounding book released in the UK a while ago, it only just did so in the US from Simon Teen and the lovely author, Sara Barnard chose me as a winner in her Twitter Giveaway to get a signed copy of the US Edition! It looks stunning and so many people have said that the story is heartbreaking and beautiful and I CANNOT WAIT TO GET INTO THIS BOOK!

I also stuck to my book buying ban and bought absolutely nothing this week, so YAY FOR ME! (I'm trying to get a handle on my TBR but Amazon and all it's deals are calling to me and here's to hoping that I last until next week!
What books have you stacked onto your shelves over the new year/ Christmas?
Have you read any of my new books/ are you excited for any of them?
I'd ABSOLUTELY love to hear from you!