Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)
One of my biggest hopes is that Asian Heritage Month – or, whenever we talk about Asian identity and Asian books – will shift to be more inclusive, welcoming, and thoughtful of Asian identities, such as South-East Asia, South Asia, West Asia, and Central Asia. I want Asian Heritage Month to be a time where all Asians feel a sense of community and solidarity, a time where they can celebrate each others’ Asian identities and carve a space where all Asians are included and celebrated.
It’s times like Asian Heritage Month, or any event that celebrates culture and identity, where I reflect on the things that I can do to achieve this ‘vision’. Sure, I could write a book recommendation post or review books by a variety of Asian writers – but I think something that is even better is taking a step back and amplify the voices that are already speaking and are already doing amazing work.
A book blogger that I really appreciate is Krisha, and I am so honoured to have her visiting us at the Pond today! Krisha is an Indian book blogger and the work and advocacy she does to support South Asian literature is nothing short of amazing. I am incredibly honoured and grateful that she’s visiting the Pond today – as a blue panda, dancing with ghungroos at her ankles and holding a book – to recommend some of her favourite South Asian books! But before I share with you Krisha’s book recommendations, let me introduce to you her wonderful blog!
Krisha’s Book Blog: Bookathon!
I’ve had the joy of following Krisha on Twitter for awhile now, and I just love that everything that she does. Not only is her book blog, Bookathon, utterly gorgeous and includes regular features of book bloggers around the community, Krisha has done incredible, incredible work in promoting and reviewing diverse books!
A post that I particularly love was her ‘mini-reviews’ of three diverse middle grade books! As you will probably have heard me say time and time again, I love diverse middle grade books, so seeing Krisha read and recommend them makes me incredibly happy.
If, however, after reading her book recommendations today, you feel like you would love to add more South Asian books to your reading lists, Krisha already has you covered! She’s done an amazing job at putting together a huge post recommending 46(!) South Asian books!
Krisha Recommends Her Favourite South Asian Books!
Hello everyone! I want to start by saying a big thank you to The Quiet Pond for having me. This Asian Heritage Month means differently to a lot of people out there and for me it becomes a month to truly reflect on my South Asian identity and the books which played an important role in my life.
Being Indian, I haven’t always seen myself in books. I have been a reader since a young age and even though I grew up with good books, I did not really have many relatable books. My favourite genre is fantasy and I never really read about a brown girl who was the main character or a brown girl on the cover. So, when I read such a book for the first time, the feeling was absolutely amazing. Today I am going to talk about 3 fantasy books which made me feel seen and which are also my all-time favourite books!
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
I am always speaking about A Spark of White Fire but somehow, it’s never going to be enough because this series deserves so much more. This Mahabharata inspired space opera is a criminally underrated series which needs to be shouted about from the rooftops. Reading a book inspired by an Indian epic was truly epic, to say the least.
This book follows the story of Esmae who has been inspired by the character Karna. I love Esmae and she is definitely in my top 5 characters of all time. I think what really inspires me about this character is her rage. As POC, we are often expected to bury or subdue our rage about anything. We are expected to just let go or just let it be. Esmae is wronged by a lot of people in her life and instead of being quiet about it, she has channeled that anger into revenge and doing what she knows is right even if it’s difficult.
The depiction of family, sacrifices, ambition, anger, politics and the meddling of gods and goddesses is just perfection. I had read the first and the second part of this trilogy in two days straight and I could not stop until I was done. Very few series have that effect and this one definitely has that power. This inspires me and the series as a whole makes me feel seen like very few have.
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Empire of Sand is one of the most evocative and well-written books I have ever read. This book just captures you with its vivid eye for details and rich world building. Amun and Mehr, the two main characters were well-fleshed out characters who you can’t help but root for. This book’s magic system was heavily based on dance. It is inspired by Mughal India and talk about the Amrithis who have the power of dance and are treated with apprehension by the people of the Ambhan empire.
Indian classical dances are many and each of them are beautiful. The dance mentioned in this book takes inspiration from that. I am a dancer since a young age and an amateur classical dancer (of the dance form Kathak). The descriptions of this book are phenomenal but the dance scenes where Mehr is doing the dance ritual are just incredibly powerful. While reading those scenes, I felt a feeling of pride and a feeling of awe. I could just imagine it in my head and that was exhilarating. Apart from this, the book also focuses on the importance of faith, the power systems which exist and how freedom, choice and identity play a part in Amun and Mehr’s lives. This is a book I will always recommend.
Also recommend: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi and the character Laila who is also a dancer and one of my favourites.
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala
The special thing about The Tiger at Midnight is just how desi it is. When I first read the synopsis for this book and saw that the charaters’ names were Esha and Kunal, I would be lying if I said I did not let out a squeal of excitement. There are so many books growing up which had names I could not pronounce or which I could never relate to because I had never heard of them!
Esha and Kunal are two names which not only could I pronounce without worry of doing it wrong but also these are names of people around me and that gave me the biggest of satisfaction. The descriptions in the book and Esha’s love for mangoes was so relatable. I love mangoes so much and to read about a character loving them too was really great. The names of other characters were also ones I had heard of and I know this probably sounds like too little a thing to get this excited over but for me it was one of the best things to be able to read names I know about. There’s mentions of uttariya and saris which again are items of clothing I know of and hence could imagine easily. These little things give me the absolute happiness and this is why this book is so special to me.
There are little tidbits about Indian culture and the customs and traditions which I have heard of while growing up and to actually read about them in a fantasy book is just super good. I can never recommend this book enough.
About the Book Blogger
Krisha (she/her) is an Indian blogger and lover of flowers and dance. She is a reader since a young age and doesn’t know life without books. She is passionate about diverse books, especially South Asian books, and loves to hype up and fangirl about fictional worlds and characters.
I absolutely love reading book recommendation posts and seeing the love and pride flow through the words. I’m definitely going to be picking up Empire of Sand and Tiger at Midnight myself, and I can attest that A Spark of White Fire is fantastic!
Though Krisha is the first book blogger that we have featured during Asian Heritage Month so far, she won’t be the last! Be sure to join us next week for more posts by Asian authors, including Asian bloggers and content creators!