Short diary entries that I’ll write throughout the year to chronicle my reading experiences and excitements about the South-Asian Reading Challenge 2020.
JANUARY 5TH, 2019 | MUSLIM – REP BOOK CLUB PICK
I’m part of a Twitter group chat of book-lovers who want to read more books with Muslim representation. Our first pick for the book club was Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali, and I enjoyed it! In the book, Zeynab is half-Caribbean & half-Pakistani (from America) and Adam is half-Finnish & half-Chinese (from Canada). I found that the Muslim representation felt authentic and not used in a trope-y way. For example, there were nuanced discussions of hijab, descriptions of prayer, and a romance that blossoms in what people would consider to be a traditionally halal way. I loved that it was primarily told through Adam’s and Zeynab’s respective Marvels & Oddities journals.
JANUARY 3RD, 2019 | LAST BOOK I BOUGHT IN COLLEGE
I bought The City of Devi by Manil Suri in May 2019 from Walden Pond Bookstore (Oakland)–one of my last memories from college. I just started it, and it’s great so far! The back-cover asks, “Whom would you seek if the world were to end in 4 days?” The futuristic Pakistan v. India conflict in the novel feels very real, and I love that in conversation with the mythology and wonder of the goddess Devi. While she is searching for her lover, Sarita recalls memories with Karun: how they met and fell in love and how Sarita struggled with the social taboo of her being single at 32 years of age.
DECEMBER 30TH, 2019 | EARLIEST MEMORY
My earliest memory of reading a South Asian book was The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I remember receiving it as a prize for completing my local library’s Summer Reading Program one year. The Conch Bearer is a middle grade novel that follows the journey of Anand: a boy who helps an elderly man who entrusts him with a magical conch shell. I love the sensory details and the mix of real life and fantasy.