What is South Asian Heritage Month?
Shining a light on South Asian histories and identities – South Asian Heritage Month was founded in 2020 and runs from the 18 July to 17 August. This year’s theme is ‘Journeys of Empire.’ Journeys like the odyssey of indenture in the Caribbean and East Asia, the ones taken by Indian Ayahs paid to travel to Scotland in the 19th century, South Asian migration to Britain, and many others.
Here are a few books available at your local library to explore and celebrate South Asian Heritage Month:
Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell
This beautiful translation from Tilted Axis press was the winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize. Set in Northern India, 80 year-old Ma an unlikely protagonist travels to Pakistan to confront her past. It explores big themes like the trauma around partition, feminism, and grief all with a light touch. It’s a sweeping book which defies the borders of language, gender, and country.
Borrow Tomb of Sand in print
Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi
This lyrical work of fiction follows Ruby and Rania, two young British Indian sisters. Growing up in a society rife with racism and sexism, one day Ruby just stops speaking altogether. Arshi is an acclaimed poet and writes in a poetic language that is in turns unsettling and tender.
Borrow Somebody Loves You in print or audiobook
Non – fiction:
Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera
A bestseller recently made into a documentary for channel 4. This book aims to tell the lesser-known histories of empire – for example the story of millions of Indian soldiers who fought for Britain in WW2. This book explores how these histories continues to shape today’s England and Scotland.
Borrow Empireland in print or ebook
Coolie Woman: the Odyssey of indenture by Gaiutra Bahadur
This is a unique book which charts South Asian women’s journeys of forced indenture under British colonial rule in the late 19th century. The history of indentured women is specifically hard to unearth as there’s little documentation about their lives. (Note, ‘Coolie’ in the title of the book is a racial slur.)
Borrow Coolie Woman in print
I Belong Here: a Journey along the backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
After experiencing traumatic racist abuse whilst on a train to Newcastle, Sethi resolved to walk the Pennine Way in an act of reclamation and adventure. This book follows her journey to find solace, confidence and belonging.
Borrow I Belong Here in print
Brown baby by Nikesh Shukla
Written after the death of his mother and addressed to his two young daughters, this is a memoir of race, family and home. What does it mean to bring a brown baby into the world today? How do we live with hope and joy?
Borrow Brown Baby in print
Let Me Tell You This by Nadine Aisha Jassat
This incredible collection tells us stories of family, of belonging, and of being mixed race. Jassat is an Edinburgh based poet and is featured on the Edinburgh Women’s Mural. This collection explores what it is to be a woman of colour in Scotland today. Her writing is mesmeric, powerful, and moving.
Borrow Let Me Tell You This in print or ebook
How to Wash a Heart by Bhanu Kapil
The winner of the T.S. Eliot prize 2020, this is a sharp and poignant poetry collection which explores the themes of immigration, boundaries and borders, and what it means to be a guest.
Borrow How to Wash a Heart in print
Reserve any of these titles for collection at your local library.