#DesiBooksNews: Happy New Year, a poetry reading by Dipika Mukherjee, and some 2023 plans

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Dear Reader,

A very happy new year to all of you. I hope 2023 brings us all that we strive for and hope for. And what better way to start the year at Desi Books than with a poetry reading? At the end of this newsletter, I mention some of what you might expect in 2023 so please scroll on through.

Dipika Mukherjee’s collection, Dialect of Distant Harbors, was out in late 2022. The collection summons a shared humanity to examine issues of illness and family in the home, as well as redefine belonging and migration.

Have a listen to Dipika or and read the transcript of some of the excerpts here.

Here’s a serendipitous connection that Dipika and I have with a place called McLeod Ganj in northern India though we have never met or even discussed our journeys. Unlike Dipika, I did not set out to meet the Dalai Lama and never did. But I believe that, although I’m not a religious person, I experienced some of the same magic as she did. She wrote about finally meeting the Dalai Lama on September 4th, 2015 (see the link in the episode.) Interestingly, I was in that town at that same time. We may even have passed each other without knowing. Such is this life.

If you enjoyed Dipika’s poems, you might also like these previous poetry features:

Did you miss our Partition issue of #DesiBooksReview just before the holidays? It features the writer and oral historian, Aanchal Malhotra, on the cover. Literary Hub was kind enough to mention it in their daily roundup earlier this week. See our previous (almost) quarterly issues here.

2023 is shaping up to be another great year for writers of South Asian origin. We’ll have our January #DesiBooksReco roundup and the US Bookshop list available shortly.

I started Desi Books at the start of the global pandemic in early 2020 because I didn’t see our books getting their due attention, at least not outside of South Asia. This past year, however, the tide has risen nicely both in terms of the diversity and range of books published and in awards/accolades given. While Desi Books will continue to showcase South Asian literature and help writers find their readers but we’re going to make some small changes. Here are three you’ll be seeing right away:

1) Decades of our now-backlisted works did not get their due attention when they came out because the news cycle typically moves on in a couple of months. This is certainly why our quarterly #DesiBooksReview doesn’t focus only on new works. So we’ll be following the same ethos with all the other channels in 2023: a healthy mix of both the not-new and the new.

2) While there will be fewer interviews than in the past, there will be more thoughtful, contextual material around them with book lists, readings, link sets, etc.

3) Our huge archives (to date: 178 featured authors; 24 contributing authors) will become more user-friendly through improved search-and-sort functionality so we can boost those writers and their works on an ongoing basis.

As always, if you have suggestions or questions, you can email me back. I’m personally not so much on social media these days because I feel it has turned into performance media. But, of course, we’ll continue to share Desi Books features there for visibility and distribution.

Stay healthy, keep reading, and write well.

Jenny Bhatt

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