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Young adult author, Anika Hussain grew up in Sweden, and now writes YA novels with a strong South-Asian representation. In this episode of Kitabi Qisse, she talked to us about why representation in brown stories matters. As a child of immigrants, she shares how reading about South-Asian characters changed her own attitude toward her culture.

With kids having reservations to show up as their full selves, Anika talks about one brown story that inspired her. She also goes into great depth on why this representation in media matters.

Like most literature, young adults books – romance or thrillers, are painfully low on South-Asian representation. This is something writers like Anika are trying to change. Not by force-fitting brown stories into stereotypical themes, but by sharing stories that speak to our diversity and culture proudly.

As a reminder, Kitabi Qisse is a virtual gupshup with South-Asian authors and creatives. The video shorts go live on our Instagram page too. This is an ongoing attempt to promote diverse children’s and young adult books.

If you want to nominate a desi creator for this series, write to us here.

Anika Hussain on building YA novels with South-Asian representation

Anika Hussain was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden but currently lives and writes in Bath, Somerset. She is a graduate of the Bath Spa MAWYP. Not having seen herself in the books she read as a teenager, Anika writes YA novels with South Asian characters at the heart of the story. In her free time, Anika rewatches Love Island, listens to too many true crime podcasts, and sings pop-punk songs loudly around her apartment.

Anika has had short stories published in various anthologies such as, De Tysta Tänker Högst and Keyhole Stories: Dead Ends. Anika has also had a number of opinion pieces published about writing as a craft, the impact Young Adult novels have on society, and the importance of representation. Anika is represented by Alice Sutherland-Hawes at ASH Literary. More about Anika here.