#DesiCraftChat: Tara Isabel Zambrano on the art and craft of the short and flash story; #DesiBoost: Madi Sinha on her favorite desi works

Desi Books Ep 16 w/ Tara Isabel Zambrano & Madi Sinha 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 16 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, we have Tara Isabel Zambrano in #DesiCraftChat talking about flash fiction. Her new collection, Death, Desire, and Other Destinations, came out on September 15. We also have Madi Sinha giving us her favorite desi reads in #DesiBoost. Her new novel, The White Coat Diaries, also came out on September 15.

At the end of the episode, I’m going to share a bit of news about a monthly book club called #DesiBooksinTranslation. Stay tuned for that as well.

And now sit back and enjoy.



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. But you can still see the list of all the books that have come out in 2020 and been mentioned on the podcast.

September has been a busier month for books this year because of many getting deferred from spring and summer. I covered quite a lot in the last episode. So we’ve got two more for September. That said, if I’m missing any new books by writers of South Asian origin, feel free to tag the Desi Books account on Twitter or Instagram to let me know. The social media links in the transcript or on the website.

1) Seven by Farzana Doctor is a novel based on the real-life practice of female genital mutilation or cutting. It’s also an inter-generational novel set across the East and the West.

2) Purple Lotus is Veena Rao’s debut novel. It’s about an Indian-American woman finding her agency and a new path in life. Until, of course, the past returns.



Tara Isabel Zambrano moved to the US from India a couple of decades ago. Her full-time job is as a semiconductor chip designer. But she also writes these amazing works of flash fiction for which she’s been nominated for and won several awards. She lives in the Dallas area in Texas with her family.

Her first collection, Death, Desire, and Other Destinations, is out now. It’s about love, loss, longing, and a whole lot more. The narratives move smoothly across the real and surreal, lyrical and magical, sci-fi and speculative.

Tara and I talked about the craft of flash fiction and her own journey to publishing.




Madi Sinha is a writer and practicing physician who loves the nervous system, bookshops, tea with milk, and snarky conversation (but not necessarily in that order.) Her debut novel, White Coat Diaries, is about a young doctor’s struggle to survive residency, love, and life. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. 

The White Coat Diaries has been described as Grey’s Anatomy meets Scrubs. It’s more a coming of age novel than a romance novel. For a first book, it’s pretty impressive for how it really gets into the life of a medical resident dealing with disgruntled patients, sleep deprivation, and trying to be the perfect Indian daughter. There’s a big moral dilemma at the heart of this novel. A fatal medical mistake happens and the secrets and cover-ups begin. 

Here’s Madi Sinha sharing her three desi works in #DesiBoost.



  1. Night Theater by Vikram Paralkar
  2. Well-behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave
  3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi



I wanted to take a few minutes today to float an idea, a proposal, that’s been in the works for a while. This is about a book club that would be focused on books translated from South Asian languages. Ideally, we want books that are widely available in different geographic regions and where the translator might be available to discuss the books with us. At the end of the month, we’ll finalize a book selection by social media poll after we’ve collected a few choices. There’s a link that I will include in this transcript of the episode. You should be able to find it on the desibooks.co website as well. This is where you’ll be able to go and add your choice of a desi book in translation for the club. And we’ll then put it up for a poll so that everybody can vote.

So please spread the word and let’s see if we can get enough interest to get this club going. The goal is simply to, you know, widen or increase the awareness for desi books in translation. There’s so much rich literature happening in our regional languages. And there’s a lot of concerted effort going on by publishers and translators to bring some of these across into the English language for people to enjoy and appreciate. There’s a lot of good reads we’re missing because mainstream media doesn’t tend to cover books and translation as well. And that’s not just books from South Asia. Generally speaking, books in translation don’t get as much airtime. And yet, there’s a lot of rich, nuanced storytelling and different literary traditions that exist in these regional languages. So let’s try and bring some of that color and flavor and texture into our reading. Do join us. And please, if you have any suggestions or thoughts, feel free to reach out on social media and let me know. Thank you.


You’ve been listening to episode 16 of DesiBooks — news and views about desi literature from the world over.

Episode 17 will be up in a couple of weeks. 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 or so 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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