In case you missed it, on Saturday May 11, we celebrated the rich cultures of South Asia with dance, music, stories and art. South Asian culture is a big part of the Cedarbrae Branch community and our surrounding branches, and it continues to influence our programs and book displays throughout the month.
Like many branches, we have ongoing Asian authors on display this May -- these displays have authors from all over Asia including China, India, Afghanistan and many more. Many of the books deal with the struggle of moving to a new country and navigating between cultures in addition to other universal topics of family, love and redemption.
Many of these themes are linked to youth and growing up, so we've put together a short list of books about growing up South Asian, or desi. Desi is a general term often used to refer to people, culture and experiences related to the Indian subcontinent, or South Asia. It originates from the Sanskrit word 'desha' which means literally 'land' or 'country'. In languages like Hindi and Bengali, it evolved to 'desh' which means the same thing. Desi is a common term in North America, although it seems to be used more frequently in parts of the US, and usually among South Asians themselves.
Check out some of these titles and let us know if you have any recommendations of your own!
By Tony D’Souza
Francisco D'Sai is a firstborn son of a firstborn son—all the way back to the beginning of a long line of proud Konkans. Known as the "Jews of India," the Konkans kneeled before the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama's sword and before Saint Francis Xavier’s cross, abandoned their Hindu traditions, and became Catholics. Francisco's mother, Denise, and uncle, Sam, are passionate raconteurs who do their best to preserve the family's Konkan heritage, while his father drinks a lot but speaks little. Friends, allies, and eventually lovers, Sam and Denise feed Francisco’s imagination with proud visions of India and Konkan history.
The Girl in the Garden
By Kamala Nair
When Rakhee Singh is ten years old, her mother takes her from their Minnesota home to visit relatives in India. There she discovers a family secret that will haunt her. Only as a woman on the verge of marriage does Rakhee find the strength to confront the events of that summer and face the price of secrets.
By Rahul Mehta
With buoyant humor and incisive, cunning prose, Rahul Mehta sets off into uncharted literary territory. The characters in "Quarantine"--openly gay Indian-American men--are Westernized in some ways, with cosmopolitan views on friendship and sex, while struggling to maintain relationships with their families and cultural traditions.
By Safia Fazlul (Toronto author!)
Peckville may be a fictional town, but it feels like any other slightly dreary urban centre. Farina is sick of Peckville and the nosy neighbours, the constant expectations of her strict Muslim, Bangladeshi parents, and most of all, her lack of freedom. When Farina and her best friends venture into a world of money, lust and power, the burden of freedom may be too heavy to bear.
Shopping for Sabzi
By Nitin Deckha
Poingnant and humourous, these stories describe the anxieties of ambitious young South Asians as they hustle for status, love, careers and personal fulfillment in a new world.
By Amit Majmudar
Mala and Ronak are surprisingly less comfortable with their dual Indian and American roots than their parents. Told that their mother is about to die, they return home to the Midwest, where Mala persuades Ronak that they should immerse themselves in Indian culture by learning to cook their mother's favorite recipes.
Check out even more great reads to celebrate Asian Heritage Month and other recommended booklists!