When I was growing up, there weren’t many shows, movies, or books that featured characters of South Asian descent. I was able to find these characters in Bollywood movies, but it was rare to see South Asians in Western media. I can still remember walking along the stacks at my local library, picking up books as I searched for my next read. One day, I found Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier. I was so excited to finally see a cover that featured someone who looked like me. Born Confused is a coming-of-age story about a young girl named Dimple who grows up in America and tries to find herself while also trying to find a balance between upholding her parents’ traditions and culture and fitting in with her classmates, who grew up living like the Joneses. When Born Confused was published in America in 2003, it was one of the only books at the time to feature South Asian characters. What was even more exciting was that Dimple wasn’t just a side character, she was the protagonist! It took me several more years before I found another book that featured characters who represented my heritage.
Today, I’m excited that multiple books by South Asian authors featuring characters that represent this diverse community are available. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites, all of which have been published in the past few years. I hope that soon we’ll see even more representation of our stories in books.