South Asian literature is on the rise. Every year, there are more and more South Asian authors breaking into the world of literature and publishing books in a wide array of genres. 2022 is no different, with a variety of South Asian authors both established and new publishing fiction across all genres and age categories. These books range from fantasy and science fiction all the way to romance and historical. They’re also more diverse than ever. There are books that contain queer South Asian representations, books that are South Asian retellings of classic literature, stories that delve into South Asian mythology, books set in places such as a post-apocalyptic Bangladesh and a fictional version of Sri Lanka, and much much more.
South Asia itself consists of eight countries: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives. Despite South Asia’s diversity, both at home and in the diaspora, the books that are publishing are sadly not completely reflective of this. So while this is a list of must-read books by South Asian authors publishing in 2022, it’s important to note that there are voices missing amongst this list. Hopefully, as the years go by, publishing will catch up to the diversity of voices in South Asia and its diaspora.
For now, here are 33 books by South Asian authors publishing in 2022 that you should put on your TBR right now. (I’ve noted the release dates if announced, but books with 2022 after the title do not have a final release date yet.)
Last year, Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne was published to wide acclaim. It marked the start of a new fantasy trilogy inspired by Indian history, and followed a captive princess and maid servant becoming unlikely allies to save their empire. The Oleander Sword is the second in the series and is a must-read for fantasy readers and fans of Suri’s work.
Fans of fake dating and celebrity culture will love Lillie Vale’s The Decoy Girlfriend. Author Freya Lal knows that with the right clothes and make-up she’s easily mistaken for It girl actress Mandi Roy. But when Mandi catches on to Freya’s impersonation, she makes her an offer: pretend to be Mandi for a month. It’s a win-win for everyone, with Mandi getting a break from the public eye and Freya getting some much-needed inspiration for her novel. There’s just one catch: Mandi’s relationship with her devastatingly handsome co-star, Taft Bamber. The relationship has always been a PR stunt, unbeknownst to the public and to Freya. But with everyone’s career hinging on the success of Freya and Mandi’s swap, Freya will have to be a pretty convincing girlfriend. But what if the spark between her and Taft isn’t just for the cameras?
Sangu Mandanna is a staple author in kid lit spaces, especially with her popular A Spark Of White Fire Series. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is her adult debut. Mika Moon is one of the few witches in Britain and has to hide her magic and keep away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle. But she has an online account where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She’s pretty sure nobody will take it seriously until she receives an unexpected message begging her to travel to a remote island to teach three young witches how to control their magic. Mika goes, despite it breaking all the rules, and becomes tangled up in the lives and secrets of the three young witches and the residents of Nowhere House, including the handsome and prickly librarian, Jamie. But just as Mika is finding her place in Nowhere House, a threat comes knocking at the door. How much is she willing to risk to protect her newly found family?
Nisha Sharma’s new romcom, inspired by The Taming Of The Shrew, promises to be charming and hilarious. Hopeless romantic Kareena Mann makes a deal with her father for her mother’s home: she’ll get her house if she can get engaged in four months. Dr. Prem Verma hosts the Dr. Dil show to fund his local community health center. But when an argument between Prem and Kareena goes viral, Kareena’s meddling aunties promise to fund his clinic if he can convince Kareen they’re soulmates. Neither of them are particularly fond of each other, but the more time they spend together, the more they realise they might just be meant to be…
Mohsin Hamid’s books always leave you introspecting about the world around us, and I’m sure The Last White Man will be no different. It follows Anders, who wakes up to find that his skin has turned dark and his reflection is a stranger to him. He tells an old friend turned new lover, Oona. Pretty soon, similar occurrences are reported all over the land. People see these transformations as an overturning of the established order and are desperate to resist it. But others are conflicted between feelings of loss and newfound love.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s latest historical novel shines a light on one of nineteenth century India’s fearless women and leaders. Jindan Kaur is the daughter of the royal kennel keeper and went on to become the Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s youngest and last queen. Defying tradition, Jindan conducted state business publicly, addressed her troops herself, and inspired men in wars. Fearing her power and influence, the British robbed the queen of everything she had. But nothing could crush her willpower.
Twenty-six-year-old Yasmin Ghorami is training to be her doctor and engaged to the charismatic upper-class Joe Sangster. Despite the marriage being approved by Yasmin and Joe’s parents, there’s a wide cultural gulf between Yasmin and her fiancé. Love Marriage is a multi-layered story about secrets, the modern family, and much more, form the critically acclaimed author of Brick Lane.
Manny Dogra has always been encouraged to become an “All-American” girl by her Indian parents, and so that’s exactly what she did. She knows next to nothing about her South Asian heritage and it has never posed a problem. In fact, she’s the beautiful young CEO of Breakup, a highly successful company that helps people manage their break-ups, and is planning a wedding with a handsome architect. But after the death of her beloved parents and a whitewashed photo of her on a magazine cover, Manny has her own identity crisis. Then an irritating client named Sammy Patel approaches Manny with a strange breakup request, and the perfect solution presents itself. He’ll give her a crash course on being “Indian,” and she’ll help him out. But as Manny learns about her culture and meets all the interfering Aunties and Uncles of the Patel family, she discovers much more than she could have anticipated.
Kundo Wakes Up is Saad Z. Hossain’s companion to the Ignyte and Locus Award–nominated novella The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday. The dying city of Chittagong, along with its residents, is falling into the sea after the all-seeing AI Karma goes silent. Once famous artist Kundo goes searching for his missing wife, only to uncover other inexplicable disappearances. Kundo, and a group of his companions, find themselves on a journey through a maze of Chittagong’s neighbourhoods in search of love, redemption, and a good meal.
Fans of mythology will love Vaishnavi Patel’s debut, which shines a light on Kaikeyi, from the Ramayana. Kaikeyi is the only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, raised with tales about the benevolence of gods. But she watches her father banish her mother and sees as her own worth is reduced to what kind of a marriage alliance she can secure. When she calls on the gods for help, she goes unanswered. Desperate for independence, Kaikeyi turns to the texts she read with her mother and finds a magic that is only hers. With her newfound powers, Kaikeyi transforms from an overlooked princess into a warrior and queen, determined to create a better world for herself and the women around her. But as the evil from her childhood stories looms over everyone, Kaikeyi’s path clashes with the gods’ destiny for her family. Kaikeyi must decide if it’s worth it to resist, and what kind of a legacy she wants to leave behind in the world.
You’re Invited is Amanda Jayatissa’s sophomore novel, a brilliant new thriller on the heels of her dark and creepy debut, My Sweet Girl. Amaya is invited to Kaavi’s over-the-top wedding in Sri Lanka. When she hears that the groom is her own ex-boyfriend, Amaya knows she has to stop the wedding, no matter the cost. But during the weeklong wedding celebrations, Kaavi goes missing, and is presumed dead. All evidence points to Amaya. But all is not as it seems, and Amaya may not be the only guest with a desire to see the wedding stopped.
Seventeen-year-old Sy is a timid queer Indian-Muslim boy. When his boyfriend Farouk leaves him to try and fix the world, he’s too afraid to take the plunge and go with him. All he wants is another chance, and when a mysterious girl offers him three wishes in exchange for his help, he may just get his wish.
Sunny G’s brother left him one thing when he died: his notebook. Sunny is determined to fill it up with a series of rash decisions. First, he stops wearing his turbans, cuts off his hair, and shaves his beard. His plan is to debut his new look at prom, but when Mindii Vang steals Sunny’s notebook on prom night, Sunny chases after her. Suddenly, Sunny G’s prom turns into an all-night adventure, full of rash, romantic, and life-changing decisions.
With Tahir’s fantasy series recently coming to an end, I’m sure her fans are clamouring for something new. While All My Rage is a new genre for Sabaa Tahir, it promises to be something special. In Juniper, California, Salahuddin and Noor are like family. But when a fight destroys their bond, they’re left to their own devices. Sal attempts to save the family motel while his parents struggle with their own demons. Noor works at her uncle’s liquor store, all the while hoping and planning for an escape from Juniper. But as things begin to spiral out of control, Sal and Noor must grapple with what friendship is worth.
The Love Match sounds like an adorable and charming romantic comedy. It follows Bangladeshi American Zahra Khan who is grappling with her feelings for two very different boys after her mother attempts to play matchmaker.
New York Times bestselling author of Internment and Love, Hate, and Other Filters returns with this gripping thriller. Safiya Mirza dreams of being a journalist. She’s learned that a journalist’s job is to find the facts and not let her own personal biases get in the way. But things change when she finds the body of a murdered boy. The victim, Jawad Ali, was a 14-year-old boy whose cosplay jetpack was mistaken for a bomb by his teacher. His jetpack got him arrested, labeled a terrorist, and eventually killed. Safiya decides she needs to tell the whole truth about Jawad, and those who killed him because of their own hate-filled beliefs.
When pretty, popular debater TJ Powar and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme, where TJ is hailed for removing her body hair and Simran is condemned for not, TJ knows she needs to take action. She resolves to stop shaving and waxing, to prove that she can be her hairy self and still be beautiful. But she soon begins to doubt that anyone will care about her just the way she is – even if the infuriating boy from her rival debate team seems determined to prove otherwise. As TJ’s world and sense of self begins to crumble, she realises that this debate may cost her more than she’s ready to lose.
The country of Ashoka has a legacy of being protected by magic. But the country’s only quarry is quickly running out of magic, and the four estranged royal siblings must find a solution. Their only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: The Ivory Key, which is rumoured to unlock a new source of magic. To do that, the four of them will have to work together to infiltrate enemy territory. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, can the four of them work together to save Ashoka, or will they find themselves torn apart before their dangerous journey is over? Set in an India-inspired world, The Ivory Key is filled with intrigue, family secrets, and code-breaking, and is sure to entice any reader.
Dua finds herself spending the holy month of Ramadan with her extended family in New York city. It’s not exactly how she had envisioned spending her summer, and she struggles to find her place with cousins who are more tied to their faith than she is. As she learns more about her family, faith, and herself – and maybe even the cute drummer in her cousins’ Muslim band, Dua is surprised to find that her summer is turning out to be a lot different than she could have ever imagined.
Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the seas around her island. If they don’t, their family will starve. In their oceanic world filled with beasts, the ruling elite have indentured Koral’s family to provide maristags for the Glory race: a deadly chariot tournament for the upper class. The winner of the race receives gold and glory. But when Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s situation turns dire. Unable to afford medicine for her chronically ill sister, Koral’s only choice is to cheat her way into the Glory race.
Set in an alternate medieval India infested with monsters, Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove follows a young guardswoman who struggles with her own role as a pawn in the deadly games between two kingdoms.
New York Times bestselling author Sayantani DasGupta makes her YA debut with a brilliant Bengali Pride & Prejudice retelling centering around the world of high school speech and debate. Leela Bose is a life-long speech competitor. When she meets Firoze Darcy, a debater from an elitist private school, the two immediately clash. Unfortunately, they’re both competing in the state league, and their paths are sure to collide. But Leela plays to win, and she’s sure that she can beat Firoze at his own game. The situation is a little more complicated that Leela had anticipated, though, and she might have misjudged the debaters, including Firoze Darcy. And what if there’s more than winning at debate at stake? What if the stakes are as high as Leela’s heart?
There is nothing as exciting as a book set in a South Asian wedding, and so My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding is sure to be amazing! Zurika Damani is a gifted violinist with a love for hip hop. But being part of a big Indian family means everyone has certain expectations, and those don’t include hip hop violin. After being rejected by Juilliard, Zuri’s only hope is a contest judged by a panel of top tier college scouts. But the competition is taking place right during Zuri’s sister’s wedding week, and Zuri knows she’s not supposed to miss that. Worse, Zuri’s mom attempts to matchmake with the groom’s cousin Naveen, a cocky vocalist who wants to steal Zuri’s spotlight at the competition. Zuri has to find a way to wow the judges, unbeknownst to her parents, and somehow not mess up her sister’s big fat Indian wedding.
Tanvi is a dream runner: freed of all memory and emotion, and tasked with harvesting mortal dreams for the consumption of the naga court. But when one of her dream harvests goes wrong, Tanvi begins to remember another life: her life on Earth. Panicked and confused, she turns to Venkat, the one mortal in the land who can help her. But their search for answers only leads to horrifying truths, ones that could turn their land of dreams into a waking nightmare.
House Of Yesterday is a magic-infused contemporary novel that follows an Afghan-Uzbek family’s secrets, and a teen girl who comes face-to-face with the literal ghost of their past.
This companion novel to Aisha Saeed’s Amal Unbound sounds just as powerful. Omar has a scholarship to Ghalib Academy Boarding School, one that gives him – the son of a servant – the opportunity to improve his station in life. But he learns that the school attempts to get rid of kids like him by requiring them to get higher grades than kids who pay tuition, so that scholarship students find it almost impossible to graduate. Can Omar do something to change the system?
The fifth book in the Aru Shah series promises to be just as thrilling as the rest. The Pandavas only have until the next full moon to stop the Sleeper from accessing the nectar of immortality. But without their celestial weapons, defeating him will be a challenge.
The author of The Gauntlet is back with another middle grade novel. Told in a hybrid of verse and poem, A Bit Of Earth is a contemporary retelling of The Secret Garden. It follows a rebellious girl of Bangladeshi and Pakistani descent who finds herself shipped off to a white family in Long Island after the death of her parents.
Nura spends her days earning money by mica mining, and dreams of the treasure buried under the mine that could change her family’s life forever. But then the mines collapse, killing four kids, including Nura’s best friend. Nura refuses to believe it and shovels her way through to the mine in the hopes of finding him. What she finds instead is the entrance to the realm of jinns. In the jinn world, Nura is given everything she has dreamed of and more, but soon learns there’s something darker lurking beneath the glitter of this world.
Set in Mumbai, India, Thirst follows young Minni, who lives in the poorest part of the city, where access to water is limited and the communal taps have long lines. Recently, even the limited access is threatened by water shortages and thieves. But in the high-rise building where Minni works, water is in abundance. There, she discovers one of the water mafia bosses and is left with a difficult decision: should she expose him even if it means risking her job, and maybe even her life?
Set in a fictional Sri Lanka, The Boy Who Met a Whale follows local fisherboy Razi. One day he meets Zheng hanging over the side of a boat. Zheng has just escaped a shipwreck and has stories of sea monsters and missing treasures to share. But there are villains after Zheng, and are soon on the tail of Razi and his sister too. The three of them embark on a quest that will take them on the adventure of their lives.
Zara Saleem is the queen of her neighbourhood. She chooses the games, picks the team, and sets the rules. But when a new family moves in across the street, Zara feels threatened by Naomi who seems to suddenly be changing all the rules. Zara knows she needs everyone to notice her again, so she decides to break a Guinness world record, while will be difficult with her little brother messing things up. But breaking a world record all on her own might not be the most fun, and maybe sharing the crown and making a new friend might be the best rule.
Aafiyah loves playing tennis, reading Weird but True facts, and hanging out with her best friend. But she has a bad habit that she’s trying to break: she likes pretty things and sometimes “borrows” them. But then her father is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and gets taken in by the authorities. Aafiyah comes up with a plan to help, but it might mean giving in to her bad habit.
If you’re still looking for more South Asian books, make sure to check out some historical fiction featuring South Asia, a few books to help you understand your South Asian heritage, and these South Asian LGBTQ+ books!