We’re celebrating Pride Month by devoting our June reading list to some of the talented and evocative South Asian LGBT storytellers out there. Whether it is the first Indian graphic novel about a lesbian protagonist or a comedic novel set in Mumbai, there is something for fans of every genre in the roundup below.
She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya
Vivek Shraya’s 2014 young adult novel blends the stories of several major Hindu deities with the coming-of-age journey of a young gay boy in Canada. At the heart of Shraya’s novel is an exploration of the damage restrictive gender roles and homophobia have on vulnerable young people. Her prose is accompanied by moving, abstract illustrations by the artist Raymond Biesinger.
Purchase your copy here.
No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal
Rakesh Satyal introduces readers to a Midwestern neighborhood that is both a land of opportunity for many while also being a world where (as the title suggests) no one can pronounce your name. It is there that we meet Harit, a lonely immigrant in his forties who decides that the best way to help his mother through her shattering grief is to dress up every night as his dead sister. Meanwhile, we watch as housewife Ranjana attempts to come to terms with her faltering marriage by secretly writing paranormal romance novels. Their eventual friendship is as touching as it is unlikely.
In especially good news for ebook fans, ‘No One Can Pronounce My Name’ is currently on sale.
The Paths of Marriage by Mala Kumar
One of the many questions this multigenerational novel by Mala Kumar asks is one LGBT South Asians often wonder about: how will their families react if they come out? When we meet family matriarch Lakshmi, she is an extraordinarily bright student living in poverty in India. She later immigrates to the United States, determined to create a better life for herself. Lakshmi’s belief in tradition, however, leads her to push her daughter into an arranged marriage, a move that creates lasting resentment. But it is not until granddaughter Deepa comes of age and is told that she must come out to her family or lose the person she loves that the family is really shaken to the core.
Grab a copy of this moving novel here.
City of Devi by Manil Suri
Both comedic and frightening, “City of Devi” is set in an alternate version of Mumbai that has been nearly emptied of people due to a nuclear threat. As rival Hindu and Muslim gangs roam the streets, we watch as the remaining city residents search for their relatives. That’s when readers encounter Jaz (also known as “The Jazter”) a Muslim gay man. Jaz soon finds himself teaming up with Sarita, a Hindu woman searching for her missing husband, as they attempt to save their city.
Pick up your copy here.
Kari by Amruta Patil
When it was first published in 2008, “Kari” was hailed as one of the first Indian graphic novels with LGBT themes. Patil’s book tells the story of Ruth and Kari, two girls with an intensely strong bond who are then abruptly separated after surviving a jump off of a building. A 2015 piece in Scroll.in noted the story “story explores urban landscapes, people, loneliness and the social inability to accept a same-sex relationship even though heterosexual promiscuity is the order of the day.”
Order your copy of “Kari” by clicking here.