31st December 2020   •   opinion
Your favourite books by desi authors in 2020? We asked three writers

Every year, hundreds of authors of South Asian heritage pour their hearts into new books, but mostly get ignored by the western publishing industry. Obviously, we want to change that.

So we asked three people for their favourite books by desi diaspora authors in 2020. Enjoy!

Nikesh Shukla


My three favourite reads of the year by a South Asian author are: the blistering, prescient, political thriller, You People by Nikita Lalwani, all about illegal immigrants and the city, filled with anger and hurt and brilliance.


Also the magical The Girl And The Goddess by Nikita Gill is a beautiful coming of age story that is rooted in Hindu mythology and theology, and each stanza aches.

And finally, Red Pill by Hari Kunzru is a masterful look at far right radicalisation, the purpose of art and paranoia.


Dr. Pragya Agarwal


There have been some excellent books by south asian writers in 2020.


But for me personally, Avni Doshi’s ‘Burnt Sugar’ stands out. It is so restrained but incredibly detailed. And I found its quiet explosiveness and vivid visual imagery very moving. It raises poignant questions about what we forget and what we don’t want to forget. This year, as I was dealing with the death of my father, and missing my mother, and also writing my own memoir, this book about familial relationships that can sometimes become claustrophobic but ultimately also define us really resonated. A masterpiece.

Sadia Humayun


Two books really stood out for me. Both are debuts and both also happen to be memoirs.

The first one is The Prosecutor: One Man’s Pursuit For Justice For The Voiceless by Nazir Afzal, the former Chief Crown Prosecutor for NW England. Afzal is known as the true face of British justice and this memoir is an inspiring account of his life and career as an outstanding lawyer who made it his mission to help change the legal system and ensure that justice was delivered to those who had been overlooked. It’s an engaging and fascinating read and a searing insight into the justice system that is written with impressive clarity even when describing quite complex legal cases.

The other memoir too is by a high-flying lawyer, Barrister Mohsin Zaidi. A Dutiful Boy: A memoir of a gay Muslim’s journey to acceptance. Zaidi works his magic with prose with great skill and elegance. It is an eloquently written account about how love transcends two opposing worlds and in so doing he has brought together those two worlds into almost perfect harmony. I look forward to reading more writing from him.

Both these memoirs are important and have the potential to save lives and pave a path for others to follow. Both memoirs are compelling and inspiring reads in their respective ways.
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Sadia Humayun is a freelance journalist and writer
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