Bunty’s Favourite Asian Female Authors

After a well needed clearout of my bookshelves to accomodate new books this weekend, I found 10 of my favourite novels by Asian female authors to share with our chatterboxes. These are books that I cannot put away or give away as I like coming back to them.

  1. Interpretation of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  2. Difficult Daughters by Manju Kapoor
  3. The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  4. God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  5. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
  6. Anita and Me by Meera Syal
  7. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
  8. Corner Shop by Roopa Farooki
  9. Nampally Road by Meena Alexander
  10. The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami

Are any of these on your bookshelves and what do you think of them? Chatterboxes please share your top 10 novels by Asian female authors. I would love to add to my collection.


9 Comments to “Bunty’s Favourite Asian Female Authors”

  1. I enjoyed reading God of Small Things – Roy is a fabulous poet with her descriptive writing.

    I have also read Brick Lane and although I enjoyed reading it I did feel that it was just telling a story in a plinky-plonky sort of way – what I mean is, the book was not cleverly written, it was just a story. Monica Ali has produced rubbish ever since – a one trick pony. Her latest book is about Princess Diana – sigh.

    I have bought Difficult Daughters after your recommendation and look forward to reading it.

    Do you find that a lot of Asian literature written by women is always about the plight and hardship that women must endure and there is always some underlying miserable message?

    I appreciate that Meera Syal is a different sort of writer but she is not a literary genius – can anyone recommend intelligent asian female literature? Something that competes with Rushdie, Seth, Verma et al?

    I’m just ready to read something a little meaty !

  2. Hi Vakeel Bibi, yes I do feel that many Asian female authors write about the plight of women. But maybe this is because this is what is real to them. I have recently come across Meena Alexander but have not read her books yet. I am keen to read Fault Lines.

    An interesting article on the various types of asian female authors.

    I am a big fan of Meera Syal. She brought something new to British Asians and her ability to story tell from books, plays to television cannot go unacknowledged.

  3. Vakeel Bibi I agree that much asian female literature is pretty miserable which is why I’m not really into it. I have read about half the writers on Bunty’s list and some were good but I don’t care if I never read another book by an asian female writer. Harsh but true so if you find a meaty one please let me know too I would love to be proven wrong.

  4. It’s difficult isn’t it – a lot of asian women do have a story to tell and usually that involves some sort of hardship which is of course a better story to tell.

    I enjoy reading fiction from the sub-continent but it’s just a little tiresome that I haven’t yet read a book that was a fantastic read AND badly-treated women was not the point of the tale AND the author happens to be a woman.

    But then again, male authors don’t have that similar story to tell because they enjoy their lives on a pedestal.

  5. I agree that Asian men perhaps have it easier but if you have decided to write fiction isn’t the point to be creative and imaginative in addition to drawing from your own experience?

  6. Well the best literature is often as a result of the author drawing from personal experience (which is why I think Monica Ali is receiving terrible reviews for her current book set in America about Princess Di). I suppose therefore that female authors’ experiences of S Asia will include some sort of horrific event against a woman as they will feel strongly that their readers should know how women are treated. So they are more likely to produce this sort of literature.

    Male authors from S Asia however produce masterpieces because even if they also include a badly-treated female character that is not the sole reason they have written the book. Take A Fine Balance that one of your interviewees recently said she was reading. This is an excellent piece of literature and one of the characters is a badly treated woman but the book is so much more. The author drew me into loving the central characters even though you may not like them at first, then he filled me with hope and left me in utter despair.

    Brick Lane did not do that for me – it just told me that it’s a bit sh1t being an uneducated beautiful Bangladeshi woman living in a tower block in East London and being married to someone ugly, old loser. Well, I could’ve guessed that by looking out of the window on the District Line.

    White Tiger (written by a man) is a story that uses its narrator to trick you into believing it is one type of story but actually something completely unexpected happens. It is also very contemporary and fast-moving. I’m not saying that is clever, it is just different.

    I digress – I am sure that some of the books recommended by Bunty do not fall into the stereotype that I am describing. However I recently read Provoked which is a fascinating true story but again, it was written in a plinky plonky lazy then-this-happened-then-that-happened-then-I-said-this-then-I-said-that.

  7. I think apart from Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpretor of Maladies, all of the above books have plighted female characters. But that does not mean they are not great reads or brilliant pieces of writing.

    For me, some of the best authors are one’s who draw from their own experiences or experiences of people around them. That doesn’t mean they are not creative as they use this as a basis for their stories and build around it.

    A friend of mine wrote a story recently published by Penguin books called Mr Chartwell. The story is an amazing piece of fiction but it draws on experiences with depression and anxiety.

    Maybe what we are saying here as there is a need for a new breed of Asian female authors who can put the plight behind them and introduce a different type of heroine.

  8. Thanks for the recommendations Bunty – I hope I didn’t come across a little moany!

    I love reading Indian fiction – and don’t mind reading about the plight of women – just would like it presented to me slightly differently !

  9. Hey Vakeel Bibi,
    You didn’t come across as moany at all. The Chatterji household is about the freedom of thoughts whatever they are and you are very welcome to moan, criticise, object to and love whatever is said.
    I hear your comments and on the whole really do agree with what you are saying. I have enjoyed the above books for what they are.

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