Tag Archives: #southasianbooks

Not Really Indian: Subhashini Prasad’s Book Compiles Global Narratives

Subhashini Prasad was born Indian, raised Indonesian, educated American and professionally groomed to call the world her oyster. Her debut book, an anthology – Not Really Indian, was published in 2019 and made it to Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers in its first month of release. Her first children’s book – Hoo and Hau, has been published on Storyweaver. In 2020, Subhashini won the runner-up Storyteller of the Year Award by Beyond the Box. She shares funny and sincere stories of motherhood on her Instagram page, @dosaiamma. She believes that laughter is an instant vacation and that dancing is the solution to everything. Subhashini currently resides in Gurgaon with her husband and two children.

Here’s a purview into her writing process and her journey on finding inspiration to write her debut novel, Not Really Indian.

Cover of book, Not Really Indian.

What inspired your book ‘Not Really Indian’?

When I was 4, my family moved from Chennai to Jakarta. When I was 18, I moved to America to pursue my Bachelor’s degree and career opportunities. Therefore, from a young age, I have been a cocktail of cultures: sometimes confused, sometimes misplaced but always inquisitive and respectful of diversity. Stories from my own life and those of other third culture women have inspired Not Really Indian. Not Really Indian is a collection of short stories that challenge stereotypes and narrate the tales of women who long to be both Indian and worldly at once. 

Are the characters in your book based on people you know?

I am a writer who strongly believes that ‘reality is stranger than fiction’. Not Really Indian therefore takes inspiration from real life and from acquaintances who share experiences of living in India and abroad. Every time I made new friends or encountered incidents that pertain to the theme of Not Really Indian, I had made notes in a journal or on my phone. The notes made over the years came in handy when I crafted each story about women and their journey in India and abroad. The story: Goodbye, My First Love is loosely based on my family’s experience when we moved to Indonesia in the late 1980s. Offshore’d is based on the experience of many of my colleagues who worked round the clock supporting the Western finance world from India. And finally, Not Really Indian takes snippets from my own life, mixed with a pinch of drama and a fistful of twists. 

Did you struggle to develop any of your characters?

Author, Subhashini Prasad.

Surprisingly, the character sketches came naturally. Plotting the story, keeping the character development in mind was more challenging especially because I chose to use the short story format. It was challenging and exhilarating when the idea merged perfectly to reveal a character’s true color or to provide closure to the character’s personality. 

If you choose to be one of the characters in your book, who would it be and why?

Niyati Shah from the story Offshore’d is a very brave, young professional who has found the ideal balance of interacting with clients across the globe and still, staying true to her Indian identity. Even when she faces challenges from her boss and colleague as she climbs the corporate ladder, she doesn’t give up and knows how to showcase her Indian team to the rest of the world in a banking world. Niyati, believe it or not, is an embodiment of every young lady that works in the outsourcing or IT sector in India. I would choose to be Niyati for her perseverance, courage, and patriotism she shows for being Indian. 

Can you tell us about your writing process?

As a writer, I spend more time planning than in writing. I start with a one-line summary of each story and develop a character or chapter outline, depending on the length of the story. Once the planning is complete, I sit to write without distraction and find the flow. Once I find the flow, it is easier for me to finish chapters or stories at a length.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Since I work on planning and finding the flow for the words to occupy my page, it takes me more time to finish writing a large novel. And with the pandemic, with two small children at home, it is very difficult to find a distraction-free time. Also, planning can become very extensive and take time and effort away from creative writing. 

Who are your favorite authors?

Khalid Husseini and Jhumpa Lahiri have always been my favorite authors. Recently, I have enjoyed reading Elif Shafak and Indian women writers like Anuradha Roy, Madhuri Vijay, and Kiran Manral

Tell us about your future projects

I am currently working on my second book, which is a novel in the genre of dark romance. I have also completed my manuscript for two children’s books. If all goes well, all the manuscripts will be taken to publishing. 


Surabhi Kaushik is a writer from the heart and finds joy and comfort in her words. You can find all her published work on her blog: https://surabhiwritersmind.blogspot.com 


 

10 Books to Read On Modern Indian History

It is no surprise that India has a long and rich history. However, which books are the best for learning about the country’s amazing history? Below are ten of the best books that delve into India’s politics, culture, and economy.

India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

“Guha’s India After Gandhi is the must-read guide on the journey of modern India, post-independence from the British in 1947 to the 1990s” says Donald Roussel, a book blogger at Essayroo and Paperfellows. This book thoroughly covers India’s political history over the latter half of the 20th century, providing a great backdrop for India’s current economic and social climate within the country.

India -from midnight to the millennium by Shashi Tharoor

The history of modern India but in the much more precise and succinct style of Dr. Sashi Tharoor. Although this account is not unbiased like Guha’s India After Gandhi, readers will benefit from Sashi Tharoor’s fresh and unique perspective.

India — The Emerging Giant by Arvind Panagiriya

This book is the most in-depth account of the most remarkable experiment in economic development under democracy. Panagiriya explores the history of the economic path followed by Nehru to Manmohan Singh. 

An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor

Tharoor explores the lasting damage committed by British rule in India. Funny and witty at times, Tharoor provides ample research lending credibility to his claims. “He systematically debunks any of the arguments that have been made about the positive benefits of British rule” explains Constance Moore, a writer at State Of Writing and OXEssays.

The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan

The Great Partition is an essential read for anyone seeking to understand contemporary South Asia. The book looks at both the execution and aftermath of the partition between India and Pakistan. Khan thoroughly examines the contexts and decisions which led to the decision of partition as well as the horrific cost of human life and the impact it still has today.

The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen

This book is a collection of essays on Indian history by Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen. It is an essential read for anyone seeking to understand the foundations of Indian polity. Sen focuses on the traditions of public debate and intellectual pluralism and Sen argues that is this argumentative history that will help shape India’s democracy today.

Burden of Democracy by Pratap Bhanu Mehta

In Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s book, politics has truly created opportunities for people to participate in society. Mehta reveals that the persistent social inequality, along with the mistaken view of the state’s proper function and organization have modified and hindered the workings of democracy and its effects in innumerable ways. This book offers new ideological imaginations which illuminate the average Indian citizen’s discontents. 

Emergency Retold by Kuldip Nayar

In Emergency Retold, Kuldip Nayar breaks down the Prime Minister’s move and re-sparks a debate on this dark period of events. The book provides the reader with the facts, lies and truths in an easily digestible style. It reveals the atrocities that were committed and who were the chief perpetrators of these crimes. This is a must-read about those harrowing dark months in India’s history.

Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits by Rahul Pandita

The book narrates the bleak history of Kashmiri Pandits.  Tortured, killed, and driven out of their homes by Islamic militants, this book highlights these horrible acts. The book goes on to describe how the Pandits lived out the rest of their days in exile.

A feast of vultures: The hidden business of democracy in India by Josy Joseph

Josy Joseph, an investigative reporter, takes a close look at the darker side of India-how money, business, power, and politics all collide.  This 2016 novel is meticulously researched and highlights modern India’s democracy and how corruption and business and the political arena shape this modern nation.

These are 10 of the best books on modern Indian history. They provide a well-balanced look at all aspects of life within India, including the issues facing this great country.


Lauren Groff is a writer at Coursework Service and Academic Writing Service. She reviews books online. She also is a contributor at Boomessays Reviews.  


 

The Age of Religious Fanaticism: The Tonic

Newly released book The Tonic (Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd, 2020) is an intriguing story set in 1992, against the backdrop of the Babri Masjid demolition and the Bombay riots. Shuttling constantly between the past and the present, the story shares some vivid imagery of the city of Mumbai, complete with its local trains, chawls, high-rise condominiums, and “cutting chai” culture. The novel’s 30-year-old author, Mayur Sarfare, is a Professor of Mass Media at Mumbai’s Usha Pravin Gandhi College of Arts, Science, and Commerce. Passionate about subjects of metaphysics and philosophy, Sarfare regularly hosts events and moderates panel discussions. 

The story runs between a diverse cast of characters. Raem Andrew, who lost his parents in the 1985 bomb blast of a Delhi-bound Air India flight arriving from London, stands out due to his unusually fair complexion and blue eyes. When he moves to a Muslim dominated locality, Raem befriends his neighbor, Masher P Bhasker, a young student with a speech disorder. Masher’s father was burnt by religious fanatics for being a Hindu who was in love with a Muslim woman. Further, due to his stammer, Masher is often bullied and mocked by his classmates. Raem and Masher relate to each other, as they are both outcasts in society, something that becomes a strong basis for their friendship.

Destiny begins to change for them when Raem’s uncle, Sam, gifts him a box of cryptic Bolivian chocolates. The chocolates work like magical pills, giving them extraordinary courage and confidence to do things that they normally could never imagine. Masher manages to correct his speech under their influence, and Raem wins over the girl of his dreams.

However, when Masher’s mother and mute Hindu girlfriend are killed in the 1992 Bombay riots, he is overwhelmed with grief and despair. Decades later, their lives collide with Reymerg D’Souza, a militant atheist cum media tycoon,  who believes that religion is an infection of the worst kind—it has crippled man, robbed him of scientific temperament, and stultified progress. Thus, his mission is to eradicate the malaise of religion altogether. Over the years he has been secretly masterminding the abduction of various celebrated spiritual leaders belonging to different religions in an effort to execute them.

“The foundation of faith is fear. If there is no fear, there is no faith.” The book is filled with several such philosophical outbursts, and could easily work as a racy script for a thriller film or web series. When Reymerg plans a wicked and twisted silver jubilee commemoration of the infamous riots, by scheming something so sinister that could endanger the lives of millions, and it is up to Raem to prevent this colossal damage.

 “The riots didn’t just take a lot of lives; it took with them a lot of hopes, dreams, and ambitions.” The book throws light on possibly hundreds of such untold stories about the notorious riots and the havoc they wreaked in the many lives that they touched. Overall, it is a passionate statement on contemporary religious fervor and the sheer power that it wields upon human minds.  


Neha Kirpal is a freelance writer and editor based in New Delhi. She is the author of ‘Wanderlust for the Soul’ and ‘Bombay Memory Box’. 

Indian Audio Books For the Global Child

In a virtual world, parents are striving to strike a balance between the need for a personal connection and the prerequisite to learn. While school learning comes with its own set of rules, extracurricular learning is an area where parents can get creative and let their own imagination and that of the child guide them in creating new and exciting means to learn.

There is no better way to learn than through stories. Many schools of education would agree with this thought. Especially Indian parents would agree because oral storytelling is such a big part of our culture. Remember your Nani’s soft hands stroking your hair, while she told you native folklore? And where are those stories now? They are in the collective memories of all who might have heard them. Author Sue Monk Kidd said, “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” So, as parents, it is our moral obligation to pass these stories on. And as Indians with a rich and complex culture to share, stories can be the creative building blocks to share this treasure of information.

In a search to limit screen time and yet not disclude the benefits of technology, I hunted for the best audio stories on the internet that share the riches of Indian culture. They are reminiscent of the soft voice of our childhoods: reading or narrating a story, very personal and very human. 

Here’s my list:

Ancient Indian Wisdom

BaalGatha

Baalgatha literally means Children’s stories. This podcast brings to you hundreds of stories with morals, ranging from Panchatantra, Jataka, and Hitopadesha stories to many more. These are stories that are not only entertaining but definitely have an educational value. 

Baalgatha is available in English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, and Kannada languages. The stories are short and can hold the attention of younger kids. A perfect start to texts like Panchtantra and to introduction to Indian languages.

Audible India: The Jungle Book

Audible India has several children’s stories including Panchtantra, Akbar Birbal and many classical Indian tales. I was elated to find the Jungle Book on Audible India, this production is the Winner of the 2016 Audie Award for Best Audio Drama and the 2016 Audie Award for Excellence in Production. Magically narrated and completely transportive, while this production is more suitable for older kids, it will be a delight for parents as well. 

New Original Audio stories

Little Stories for Tiny People

Rhea Pechter’s podcast is an internet phenomenon. Little Stories for Tiny People is downloaded over 130,000 times per month and has been featured in School Library Journal, Mashable, Time Out New York, Common Sense Media, and Parents.com. While her stories are for older children, they are innovative, fun and full of animal adventure that is set in America. Divided by themes like bedtime, family, life changes, this podcast is into its ninth season! Based on the response Rhea recently published her book Little Fox Can’t Wait to Dream.

Lori 

Lori is a five-story collection by first time writer Ratna Goradia. What stands out about these stories is their simple originality, and their ability to transport listeners into the innocent times back in India. Set in India, these stories revolve around the theme of friendship and follow Hari and Shyam, two friends and their newly found friend: an adorable dog named Pintu, about their school lives. Softly read, and easily grasped even by toddlers, these stories will give kids a glimpse into the life of growing up in India. Parents will enjoy them for nostalgia’s sake! Also featured on India based Chimes Radio, we hope Lori will offer more installments. 

Classical and Original Stories

Story Weaver by Pratham Books

Story Weaver is by far the most diverse and exciting platform for children’s stories. It is a great resource for animated picture books and audio stories based on subjects, ages, genres, and lengths. Like me, you might get lost in stories from African folklore or stories about empathy and honesty, classical stories and original stories. Under their Indian stories, you will find stories of ancient wisdom and new and original stories. This is a treasure house with hundreds of stories for all ages.


Preeti Hay is a freelance writer whose writings have appeared in publications including The Times of India, Khabar Magazine, India Currents, Yoga International, and anthologies of fiction and poetry.