#DesiReads: Maya Shanbhag Lang reads from her memoir, What We Carry

Desi Books Ep 11 w/ Maya Shanbhag Lang & Reshma Ruia Desi Books

(available at Anchor.fm, Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Breaker, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Overcast)

Hello and welcome to Episode 11 of DesiBooks — news and views about desi literature from the world over. I’m your host, Jenny Bhatt. Thank you for tuning in.

In today’s episode, in addition to the usual roundup of new notable desi books, short stories, poems, essays, interviews, awards, and more, we have Dr. Reshma Ruia sharing a some thoughts and a reading from her poetry collection, A Dinner Party in the Home Counties, in #DesiBooksGiveaway. And we have Dr. Maya Shanbhag Lang reading from her new memoir, What We Carry, in #DesiReads.

So settle in for a listen.



You can find all the titles mentioned in this “New Books” segment at bookshop.org, which benefits local, independent booksellers directly. Go to bookshop.org/lists/desi-books-2020. This is a US-based site so my apologies to non-US listeners.

1) Tara Kaushal has a book out in India and it will be available in the US next month. It’s titled Why Men Rape: An Indian Undercover Investigation. It’s actually a multimedia journalism and activism project exploring the gamut of ethnological reasons—social, cultural, traditional, legal, economic, geographic, religious, psychological, etc—that cause sexual violence, especially in the subcontinent.

2) Valarie Kaur’s See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love is out now. It’s about her journey as a brown girl growing up in California farmland to find her place in the world; as a young adult galvanized by the murders of Sikhs after 9/11; as a law student fighting injustices in American prisons and on Guantánamo Bay; as an activist working with communities recovering from xenophobic attacks; and as a woman trying to heal from her own experiences with police violence and sexual assault. And it draws from the wisdom of sages, scientists, and activists,



Here are some new notable poems, stories, and essays from literary magazines and websites. I know I’m not getting them all so, if you know of new stories, poems, or essays published online by South Asian writers, please share them by tagging the @desibooks twitter account. Thank you.

1) Karthik Sethuraman has two poems up at The Rumpus about winter, family, language, heritage, and more.

2) Satya Dash has two poems in Waxwing Magazine’s summer issue. They’re titled ‘The Insomniac Starts Praying’ and ‘While Praying I Suddenly Think of a Swear Word’.

3) Jai Dulani has three poems also in Waxwing Magazine’s summer issue. They’re titled ‘A Generation from Partition’; ‘My Name’; and ‘chasm of a patriarch’.

4) I have a translated short story also in Waxwing Magazine’s summer issue. It’s a Gujarati folktale by Jhaverchand Meghani translated into English. (Click the right arrow to go to the story from the Translator’s Note page. Scroll down to read the English version.)

5) Rafia Zakaria has an essay up at The Guardian about how the movie Gone With the Wind continues to charm readers despite its racist bigotry.

6) Ash Bharadwaj writes at The Telegraph UK about how we miss out when we only get travel writing through a white lens.

7) Krithika Varagur, a journalist who covers Indonesia and other Southeast and South Asian regions, has a list of recommended books about Indonesia at Five Books.

8) Kavita Jindal has an excerpt from her Feb 2020 novel, Manual for a Decent Life, up at Berfrois Magazine.

9) Kamil Ahsan has an essay at Catapult Magazine titled ‘Montana Boys’ and it’s about dating queer and inter-racial power dynamics.

10) Uddipanna Goswami has an essay at Immigrant Report titled ‘Parallel Lives’ about meeting a new neighbor in Philadelphia who had also escaped an abusive marriage like her.

11) At The Polis Project, Kavitha Rajagopalan writes about her Black husband and raising their children in today’s world. The essay is titled ‘Love and Anti-Blackness’.

12) Also at The Polis Project, Sohini Chattopadhyay writes about how the Muslim woman has been depicted in Bollywood movies over the decades.

13) Tanushree Baidya writes about what pastries and backcountry Idaho mean to a first-generation immigrant from India at Pangyrus.

14) Alia Allana writes at The Atlantic about what the pandemic has meant for India’s comfort food, the humble Parle-G biscuit, and India’s migrant workers.

15) Speaking of food, Murali Ranganathan has a lovely essay at Scroll.in about how a Gujarati cookbook came to symbolize love and gratitude during the bubonic plague in Bombay. 

16) Navin Suri, the chief editor of India’s biggest Urdu newspaper called The Daily Milap, writes at Medium about how Urdu, as a language, could unite the sub-continent.

17) Speaking of Urdu, Rauf Parekh has a list at Dawn.com of the ten funniest Urdu works you could read, if you could read Urdu. The rest of us will have to wait for some heroic translator to take them on.

18) Sejal Shah has a craft essay at Poets & Writers about hybrid forms of writing and how she came to them after poetry, short fiction, and personal essays. Her new essay collection is This Is One Way to Dance.

19) Aatif Rashid has a new column The Kenyon Review Online about reading Brideshead Revisited and how it helped him come to terms with his own thoughts about Islam and religion in general.

20) Aimee Nezhukumatathil has an essay titled Ribbon Eel at Waxwing Magazine. I believe it’s from her upcoming book of illustrated nature essays titled World of Wonders.



1) Dr. Abraham Varghese talked with novelist and SVWC Literary Director John Burnham Schwartz about the medical challenges during this global pandemic and how literature nourishes us. This was at the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference.

2) Aria Aber was interviewed at The Rumpus about her debut poetry collection, Hard Damage.

3) Gigi Pandian’s novel, The Alchemist’s Illusion, has been nominated for the 2020 Anthony Awards awarded for the mystery genre.

4) The 2020 Harrogate Theakston Crime Award is open for voting and has Abir Mukherjee’s Smoke and Ashes on their shortlist. So head on over there if you’d like to vote for him.



1) This isn’t specific to desi writing but it’s asking for BIPOC science journalists so I’m including it. Yasmin Tayag, a senior editor at Medium, is looking for stories about science that are shaping the future. A link will be included in the transcript.



Dr. Maya Shanbhag Lang is the author of What We Carry: A Memoir, and The Sixteenth of June, a novel. Lang’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Observer, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and In Style, among others. What We Carry was named a New York Times Editors’ Pick. The Sixteenth of June was long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Recipient of the 2017 Neil Shepard Prize in Fiction, Lang has had her short work nominated for a Pushcart Prize. After graduating magna cum laude from Swarthmore College, she earned a Master’s from New York University and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from SUNY Stony Brook. A passionate teacher, she loves working with aspiring writers. Lang is the daughter of Indian immigrants and lives outside of New York City.

In this memoir, Maya writes about caring for her aging mother and her own young daughter, confronting the legacy of family myths, how the stories shared between parents and children reverberate through generations, and more. It is a moving story about immigrants and their native-born children, the complicated love between mothers and daughters, and the discovery of strength. It’s both a book about self-discovery and family history, about love and memory, and about revelation and healing.

So sit back and enjoy.





Dr. Reshma Ruia is an award-winning writer and poet based in Manchester, England. She was born in India and brought up in Rome and did her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the London School of Economics. She worked as an economist with the United Nations in Rome and with the OECD in Paris.  Following her move to Manchester, she did a further Masters Degree and a PhD in Creative Writing and Critical Thought at Manchester University. She is a fiction editor at the Jaggery Literary Magazine and a book reviewer at Words of Colour. She is also the co-founder of The Whole Kahani, a writers’ collective of British South Asian writers. Her first novel, Something Black in the Lentil Soup, was described in the Sunday Times as “a gem of straight-faced comedy.” Her second novel manuscript, A Mouthful of Silence, was shortlisted for the SI Leeds literary award. Her writing has appeared in The Mechanics’ Institute Review, The Nottingham Review, Asia Literary Review, Confluence, Funny Pearls, Fictive Dream, The Good Journal, and various anthologies. They have also been commissioned by and broadcast on BBC Radio. Her debut collection of poetry, A Dinner Party in the Home Counties, is a winner of the 2019 Word Masala Award and out now.

You’ll hear more about the book from the writer next. All you have to do to participate is enter your name and email address at the link below. No catch and your information will not be used for any other purpose. An optional request, not a requirement: please share the tweet or post with a friend using the hashtag #desibooksgiveaway. This won’t affect your chance of winning the book but it will certainly help the book get more visibility as it deserves.

Enter the giveaway at this link. It will run for seven days.




You’ve been listening to episode 11 of DesiBooks — news and views about desi literature from the world over.

Tune in next week for Episode 12. Follow on Twitter @desibooks or Instagram @desi.books and tag the account if you have requests or suggestions. Email at hellodesibooks@gmail.com.

The transcript will be up in the next 24 hours on the website http://desibooks.co.

Stay healthy, keep reading, and write well.


DISCLOSURE NOTE: The books linked above are from Bookshop.org. There is a tiny affiliate commission payable to Desi Books if you buy a book using the link here. This helps pay toward the cost of running the podcast. Thank you.

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