List

Desi & Desi-American Fiction

By Mahjabeen Syed

As someone working on a novel about an Indian-American family, I am constantly trying to diversify my reading palette by diving into books by different Desi authors. Although Khaled Hosseini would be considered an Afghan author and not Desi, his first novel has resonated with me deeply and it would be a loss to omit from this list. Many of these titles are from the early 2000s but each tell an important tale that has, and will likely continue to, stand the test of time.

  • When Dimple Met Rishi

    2017 by Menon, Sandhya

    Things get cheesy and messy when ambitious Dimple starts inadvertently falling for traditional Rishi, the guy her parents were sneakily trying to set her up with in the first place.

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  • The Namesake

    2003 by Lahiri, Jhumpa

    Gogol isn't a name you'd expect a Bengali couple to name their child, but that's exactly what happens. Lahiri's first novel puts the immigrant experience on full display as Gogol struggles to connect to his parent's roots back in Calcutta while living in America. It will make you question, what's in a name?

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  • The Kite Runner

    2003 by Hosseini, Khaled

    After witnessing something terrible happen to his friend Hassan when they are young boys, Amir is forced to live with the part he played in selfishly remaining a spectator to the event even into adulthood. The overarching theme of Ian McEwan's book Atonement, comes to mind as Amir tries to atone for his inaction decades later by rescuing Hassan's son from a dire situation.

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  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist

    2007 by Hamid, Mohsin

    Told from a reflective point of view, Changez tells his story to an American stranger in a Lahore café. The tale begins of his success in life and love in New York, until everything changes in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

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  • The God of Small Things

    1997 by Roy, Arundhati

    Roy's first novel is like a decadent slice of cake composed of exquisite prose. The story follows Estha and Rahel, fraternal twins whose lives begin to rapidly fracture after the death of their seven-year-old cousin, Sophie Mol. The story is of love and loss, family and political unrest in India, and the "Love Laws that lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.”

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