#DesiBookStack: About

#DesiBookStack is our year-end reading list. It’s a searchable guide to our featured books. Below, you’ll find some FAQ responses. If you have more questions, please send them in here.

And here’s the latest: #DesiBookStack-2021.

Thank you to the many readers and writers who’ve read, shared, and commented on these features. Together, let’s keep raising the tide of South Asian literature.

Why are you adding to the gazillion uneven, hit-or-miss, bias-ridden book lists already out there?

Look, several pre-publication gatekeeping and post-publication filtering mechanisms come into play before a book even emerges into the world. Then, many personal biases and preferences further shape all the “most anticipated” and “best of” book lists out there. The result is that we get to see only a tiny fraction of the books that have been written for us and by us as a community of desi readers and writers. We know this, right?

That said, on any given day, thousands of new titles are published around the world. It is humanly impossible for anyone, especially the average reader, to keep track of them, much less find the books we really want to read.

This annual list is in keeping with our overall goals at Desi Books to:
1/ to help desi writers find their readers because traditional, mainstream media chases a few at the expense of many;
2/ to celebrate the plenitude and diversity of South Asian literature through conversation and community.

Why aren’t you calling it the “Best Books of . . .” list then?

“Best” is such a vague, subjective qualifier, don’t you think? How can we define it? Who gets to define it?

How are the books in #DesiBookStack selected?

For 2021, our first-ever annual reading list includes all sixty-eight books featured in our four main channels: #DesiCraftChat, #DesiBooks10QA, #DesiReads, and #FiveDesiFaves. At least 50% of our features involved publicists or writers reaching out directly to bring their books to our attention and we reached out proactively to them for the rest. This does not mean our choices are bias-free. But it does mean we’re not entirely driven by publicity hype and marketing spin.

NOTE: Due to resource constraints, we have not included the 200+ books noted in the three book recommendation channels: #DesiBooksReco, #FiveDesiFaves, and #DesiBooksReview. This will be addressed 2022-onward.

Sure, there are gaps. There are certainly many desi books out there that deserve more attention. And there are books we had hoped to include but couldn’t get a necessary response from the author or their publicist. Also, several notable books were reviewed elsewhere by our Editor-in-chief and we did not get a chance to also feature them here. But we’ve covered a lot more books and genres in 2021 than we did in 2020. And we plan to keep improving.

From 2022 on, we’ll make this a more interactive selection process by engaging the larger Desi Books community of readers and writers in a lively, fun, and informative conversation.

Why should I pay any attention to this list over the famous ones from major media venues that have been curated by star book critics, prominent editors, and celebrated writers?

Another fair question. For years, we also religiously read and followed these famous annual book lists to find our next reads. About a decade ago, we became painfully aware that, other than the same four or five desi writers each year, these lists weren’t diverse or inclusive enough. Things have gotten somewhat better in the past five years or so but there are still so many glaring omissions. [And we still keep wondering: is it that the listmakers aren’t reading our books or is it that they think our works aren’t good enough?]

Here are some things that make our list worthy of some attention:
—It includes South Asian literature from around the world and across many genres.
—It includes books from smaller presses, who do not have the budgets to send out hundreds of review copies or hire full-time publicists to spend entire days cultivating media networks.
—We see books grouped together in ways we haven’t necessarily seen elsewhere so we can appreciate how they might be in conversation with each other even if the authors might not have written them as such. All literature is, in the end, an ongoing conversation between writers and readers through the ages.
—For the average western reader of South Asian origin, this list shows more than the usual tiny fraction of books that are being written for and about us.

Does Desi Books benefit if I click one of the book links here and buy a book?

Some, not all, book links do bring us a small affiliate marketing fee. Please see our site-wide disclaimer. That said, we can assure you that the annual affiliate marketing amount barely pays for the cost of running this website, never mind all the other costs of managing Desi Books. You are not obligated to click and buy with our links but we certainly appreciate it.

I have more questions about your book curation, listmaking, and how to get my book(s) included. How do I reach you?

Sure thing. Please send them in here. We do respond to all messages though it might take a few days. Thank you.

Back to #DesiBookStack2021.

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