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We’re recently been reading young adult fiction from South-Asian authors that’s been unputdownable. Strong desi themes, South-Asian lead characters, romance, mystery, and coming of age stories. What more can a booklover ask for?

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Here are our picks for young adult fiction from South-Asian authors:

  1. Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating: Adiba Jaigirdar creates a nuanced world sharing the story of two Bengali (Indian/Bangladeshi) high-schoolers. As they navigate school politics, religion, culture, their sexuality, and so much internal drama. This is a rare representation of a Bangladeshi bisexual Muslim girl finding her unique voice. Our favorite part was the acknowledgement that all brown stories are different and the entire community can’t be lumped into one.
  2. The Ivory Key: Akshaya Raman creates a magical world and intrigue with four siblings trying to find their shared histories and personal stories to save a nation. It’s hard to put down once you’re in it. This book reminded us of Aru Shah’s (Roshani Chokshi) mystery series, and also somehow of the Meluha series (Amish Tripathi). It’s a duology, so the epilogue builds a ton of interest for the next one already.
  3. A Place for Us: Fatima Farheen Mirza creates magical prose. It’s hard not to be consumed by the stories she builds. It makes you question identity and belonging in deeply meaningful ways. And, leaves you wanting more.
  4. Ayesha at last: Uzma Jalaluddin is the South-Asian Jane Austen. This book has so much going on for it. It tackles most stereotypes – from how we express religion to what we expect from gendered expressions of love. And in the end emerges victorious with a satisfying ending!
  5. The Runaways: Fatima Bhutto is an engaging writer tackling the very contemporary themes of terrorism, politics, belonging, and identity. The characters in the book will make you swing between empathy, anger, sadness, and all that’s in between. It’s a great way to question how we fail each other.
young adult fiction from south-asian authors

What books would you add? We love adding recommendations of desi authors or books featuring desi characters in lead roles. This is a part of our #onedesibook series on Instagram (follow here). We also interview desi authors as a part of our Kitabi Qisse series that you can find here. If you have recommendations, shoot us a note, pronto :-).