Romancing South Asia

In conversation with some of the movers  and shakers of South Asian publishing world, including Dipankar Mukerjee, an up and coming indie-publisher based in India. Sara Naveed is a writer from Pakistan, Suleikha Snyder is an American-Indian writer based in America and Farha Hasan, is a Bengali-American writer. Thank you all for sharing your valuable insights with me. It was truly rewarding to have this discussion with you all.

1. As a reader, I was taught to be acutely aware of the difference in the ‘value’ of ‘popular’ literature and ‘elite’ literature. The former had none. Now as a writer I find this belief problematic. I am aware that as a romance writer, what I’m sharing is not ‘serious’ but I do know that it can still be and is thought provokingat some levels. I love writing and reading romances but I loathe female stereotyping. How do you feel about all this?

Suleikha: The idea that romance — and genre fiction in general — is somehow lesser in value than literary fiction is one that’s been around for a long time and, yes, the roots of the elitism and the sneering do come from the fact that it is a genre written by and for women. The literary establishment can’t fathom that pulp for the ladies is both a money-maker and a cherished part of bookshelves. And that goes double for ethnic, diasporic writing. That we are not following in the footsteps of the Jhumpa Lahiris and Arundhati Roys  and writing about our post-colonial angst…gasp. Why would we choose to write commonplace, lowbrow, sexual novels? Well, because we have that choice, and because “happily-ever-after” is a valid ending for a story.


Farha:  I feel  that there is room for multiple types of  literature. Literary fiction will always have a place and always earn awards. However, fiction can not only educate but entertain. Story telling and now popular fiction has in itself been around for generations. I would argue that popular fiction is just a valid or even better form of escapism or entertainment than gaming, TV,  or browsing the web, as it opens the door to a love of reading. Once you have established this one can easily progress to appreciating other forms of writing.


Dipankar: Authors need to make a choice, a difficult one indeed. They need to decide the gallery they want to play for. Books can be written for the classes as well as the masses. Too literary a touch may alienate the casual readers and too simple a view may not please the discerning reader. Increasingly, authors are taking a middle path, where they write for the masses but give a touch for the classes. This helps them in being commercially popular as well as critically acclaimed.

Sara: In general, I hate stereotyping irrespective of what gender it is.


  1. Some feminists have a problem with romance writing and those who read and write it. To a certain degree, I agree. Especially since romance is based on the alpha hero. I love alpha heroes. Why alpha-ism is mutually exclusive with kindness is beyond me but I read and write romances to create kind, strong alphas. What do you think of this whole debate?

Suleikha: I think the alpha hero debate is rather silly, because the great thing about romance writing is that there are alternatives. For every rake and cad, there is a beta hero who is willing to let the heroine drive. It’s just that the alpha heroes get all the press. Are they inherently antifeminist? I don’t really think so. Because at the end of the day, writing characters like this serves the female reader. It’s about what women want. And you’ll notice that in most of these alpha-driven stories, the women either redeem or tame them. It’s not about being taken over so much as finding equal footing…and there’s a power in bringing an alpha hero to his knees, in making him a fool for love.


Farha:  I feel if you go back to romance novels that were written ten or twenty years ago you will see an evolution in the role of women and the nature of the alpha male. In modern day romance novels, the hero is more likely to appreciate qualities such as independence, out outspokenness and intelligence. They may get on his nerves but this only adds to the sexual tension. The heroine is also less likely to need saving. In the end the hero wants an equal.


Dipankar: The Alphas are just one aspect of the debate. There is a lot more to it. What a lot of authors do is they create larger than life heroes for a woman to dream and desire, which builds their expectations from their partners. More often than not, reality stands miles away from such characterisations and hence the end result is mismatch of expectations, reality shocks and emotional turmoil. There should be a note saying, such characters are strictly for the fictional world J

Jokes apart, modern literature definitely appreciates a lot more of realistic characters, yet the world of heroes is not shunned. People need heroes to look up to and they should be created to ensure that we think of the ideal, at least in our dreams.

Sara:  I love alpha heroes too. They bring power and excitement to a story. They are highly overprotective, in control and like to stay in charge. Of course, there is no fun reading about alpha hero alone. The story gets exciting when alpha hero meets his perfect match.


  1. Feminism at one point meant denying femaleness. It isn’t the case anymore. To me being a woman is a privilege. It doesn’t make me stupid, weak or any less capable. In fact, there are things I can do only because I am a woman. Romance writing is not and should not be considered a woman’s genre. It’s a genre of writing not a genre of writing for women. Anyone can read and write it.

Suleikha: I…don’t really see a question here? Though I do think “anyone can read it and write it” is a sweeping generalization that deserves closer scrutiny. When we have the mainstream literary elite dismissing Nicholas Sparks as romance, while the author himself pooh-poohs romance and claims to be something better…I think we do have to set boundaries. Romance as a genre has certain tenets, certain rules that need to be followed in order for it to qualify. And I think there’s nothing wrong in claiming romance as women’s space, because we have so little of it. Sure, we can share, but why can’t it be ours?

Farha:  I agree that anyone can read or write romance but to me romance is a woman’s genre (just as porn is overwhelmingly a male interest). Women understand the value of romance better than men. They also understand women’s fantasies better than men. Just as men do not feel apologetic about enjoying sports, women should not feel trivial or frivolous about reading romance. They have just as much merit as any other genre (mystery, thriller, fantasy) or leisure activity.

 Dipankar: True that! Genres can’t be gender biased. It is all about creativity, emotions and ability to express which doesn’t depend on the author’s gender.

Sara: I absolutely agree! Writing romance is not only restricted to women and should not be considered a woman’s genre only. Any person who can feel romance can write about it.


  1. The ‘event’ of reading romance and writing romance as opposed to the consequence of that act which lies in the meaning of the text.Why do women largely read and write romance? Are we denying something? Are we denied something in real life? Are we trying to reclaim something?

Sleikha: I think, again, you can’t generalize. What each woman gets out of reading or writing romance is hers. Some find intimacy, some find escape, some genuinely love writing these types of stories. I have always read romance. I didn’t turn to it out of some desire to reclaim anything. I just liked it better than what I viewed as boring litfic. Give me passion! Give me adventure! Give me the knowledge that happiness exists! We don’t wonder why men write westerns or spy novels, do we?

 Farha: We don’t live in a culture of romance. Historically, arranged marriages have been the norm, which in modern times have evolved conceptually into “strategic marriages.” Today when you look at youth culture (especially on campus) we see the other extreme.  There is less dating and more casual sex, “friends with benefits” or “hooking-up.” In this regard, I do think that romance and sentimentality is missing from many people’s lives.

Dipankar: Motivation to read romance can vary, as a young adult romance helps you dream, desire and build a world of the surreal real. As a mature individual, romance helps you connect with yourself, provided you are a romantic person. Denial is subjective and can be at best one of the reasons a person reads, and this is not limited to romance.

Sara: Being a woman, I can proudly say what I feel about writing romance. Yes, I love writing and reading romance but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am denying or trying to reclaim something. Since childhood, I was drawn towards watching romance movies and listening to romantic soft numbers. I feel romance is embedded in my soul. We read romance so we can take a break from our real life for some time and drown into the lives of the fictional characters. I read to find peace.


  1. Another question which arises for me is, that is South Asia leaning towards popular literature now because the way gender issues and gender politics is changing? Is it relayed to the publishing boom in India? Is it related to the Book prizes that South Adian writers have been getting? How much do the fiscal changes of the region factor in it?etc?

Suleikha: Since I’m American, I can’t really speak to the literary climate in South Asia. I can, however, say that it’s still a struggle here to make diverse voices heard amidst the largely white, Christian, field that is romance fiction. And I’ve found that I don’t fit the mold for Indian readers either. They don’t seem interested in my stories and seem to prefer the fantasy and escape that comes from reading Mills & Boon books about white characters.

Dipankar: There are two ways to look at it.

One, the market has opened up, the readers have increased. There is a lot more simplified literature that is available to read, which in turn is generating more interest and hence demanding more content. This cycle continues to drive the market.

Second, the authors, the suppliers of content have also increased, which in turn has increased the spectrum of views, thoughts and subjects that are being written about. This pluralism in literature has brought in a lot of acceptability of issue based writing, including gender.

Sara: There is no doubt about the fact that South Asia literature has risen tremendously over the past couple of years. People are coming out of their nest and mustering the strength to write about something. Publishing industry has also shown a boom in India because people are actually interested in literature. Gender issues and politics are discussed openly in the books and that’s what makes them more relatable among the readers.


SuleikhaAuthorphoto2014Suleikha Snyder is an editor, writer, American desi and lifelong geek Suleikha Snyder published her first short story in 2011. Subsequent releases have included Bollywood romances Spice and Secrets, and Bollywood and the Beast, and contemporary short stories and novellas for a variety of publishers. These days, she’s hard at work on more South Asian-themed romance and erotic romance.

Suleikha lives in New York City, finding inspiration in Bollywood films, daytime and primetime soaps, and anything that involves chocolate or bacon.

Visit and follow Suleikha on Twitter, @suleikhasnyder.

Farha_headshot3Farha Hasan is a writer based out of Boston of South Asian descent. She was born and bred in the South Asian community in Toronto and has a degree in business and a passion for books. Her creativity and her passion for the written word first took her into advertising and then research. A slave to fiction Farha has been reading and writing short stories since she first learned to hold a pencil. The Mother-in-Law Cure is her first Novel.


Sara Naveed is a romance writer.

Dipankar Mukerjee founded Readomania as a platform for new writers. He is a management graduate from IIT Madras, and has worked for the consulting industry for almost eight years, with organizations like IBM and Ernst & Young, before taking the road less travelled, to pursue his passion for reading and writing. He has started a new literary social network,, a platform for encouraging more and more new authors from the region. This region has traditionally been the land of storytellers and a lot of us have an inherent skill of creating good plots, good stories and good narrations. With a little encouragement and support, many more authors will be widely read and attain a place in the sun. This is the essence of Readomania-an initiative that nurtures emerging stars of the literary world.

The site also has a lot in store for the reader. Since the content is edited and curated, readers get quality reads on a platter. The variety on Readomania is impressively vast; we have romance, emotions, thrills, travel, humour and drama. Accessing Readomania makes for a perfect break of fifteen minutes from your daily grind. Read a story and unwind. It is appropriate to say,   Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are. Readomania epitomises this thoughtby transporting you to new worlds of on the wings of your imagination. Visit us at and enjoy a whole new world of literature.

Readomania’s first book, Chronicles of Urban Nomads has been critically acclaimed in India. Our next book, Crossed & Knotted, will be India’s First Composite Novel, is up for a release in India in January of 2015.


Interviewed by Jaideep Khanduja

images (24)Jaideep very kindly interviewed me on his blog Pebble in Still Waters. I enjoyed it very much. Here’s the last bit of the interview and the link to the rest is below it.
Jaideep: Your favorite time of the day?
Me: Mornings. The day is still full of promise. It’s like a monochrome picture to do what you will with it and fill in the colours of your choice. Daunting and exciting at the same time.
Jaideep: Your zodiac/ sunsign?
Me: Leo.
Jaideep: Your favorite color and why?
Me: Red and cobalt blue. Polar opposites I know, but that’s just me. I guess they’re both happy vivacious colours.
Jaideep: Your favorite book and why?
Me: It’s impossible to name one, when so many have left their mark on me. The few that spring to mind immediately are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, The Solitaire Mystery, by Jostein Gaarder, Faulkner’s The Unvanquished and The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt. These are the most important landmarks in my intellectual map.
Jaideep: Your favorite celebrity and why?
Me: Audrey Hepburn. That woman personified class.
Jaideep: Your favorite food?
I love our desi food. Sarson ka saag is my absolute favourite.
Jaideep: Some quickies:
Sun or Moon?           Sun.
Laughter or Smile?        Laughter.
Morning or Evening?     Morning.
Coffee or Tea?           Coffee.
Mountain or Sea?       Neither.
Long Drive or Short Drive?    Long Drive.
Silence or Conversation?     Silence.
Water or Fire?       Fire.
Air or Earth?           Air.
Mars or Jupiter?   Jupiter.
Tulip or Rose?      Tulip.
Red or Blue?          Both
Left or Right?           Right.
Glance or Stare?     Glance.
Jaideep: State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote.
Me: Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. (Confucius)

Read the rest of the interview here

Bloggers, Authors, Artists and Teachers review Haveli and The Contract

old haveli


“The characters are well developed and the plot is interesting. There is drama, emotions, humour and suspense all rolled into one story. The book is humourous and the names that C gives to people are actually very funny.  I finished it off in one sitting as the book is short, crisp and unputdownable.

Highly recommended.”

By Metroreader blogger

“Haveli is a breezy romance with endearing characters, a fast paced storyline and well crafted dialogues. I will revisit it whenever I want to read a modern, Asian version of Jane Austen books.” Rekha Sheshadri (blogger)

“I was hooked to this story right from the first paragraph! Zeenat Mahal has a wicked sense of humor which is portrayed through her writing.  All women can relate so easily to Chandni. Taimur as the Alpha Male is the dream hero all girls wish for. Hilarious and heartrending at the same time! I loved all the slapstick sarcasm. It left me wanting more. A beautifully written story and I look forward to reading more from this delightfully engaging author.” Saman Roshail (teacher at Scarsdale Lahore)

“Zeenat Mahal is the name to watch out for, that is a given. The attitude in the narration is just… juicy! It breaks a lot of stereotypes, about the people, about the era and about writing itself. I loved the way literary characters moved in and out of Zeenat’s world. And the sheer command over the language that Zeenat exhibits is in itself a treat. I commend Zeenat for having created a masterpiece.” Yamini Vijendran author of Full Circle

In Haveli, Zeenat has effortlessly combined east and west….the conversational tone of the characters is so subcontinental, the witty sarcasm on the other hand so western. Musharaf Ali Farooqi and Jane Austen come to mind. Zeenat is excellent at characterization. You adore the tongue in cheek Chandni(or-oops-pardon me, C), bossy Broad and the Alpha Male(just loved that!) Taimur. I read the story in one breathless sitting and was sorry when the story ended as I had to tread out of beautiful Cholistan.

I’d like to see more of C….and much much more of Zeenat Mahal. Kudos!” Neelima Vood author of Unsettled

“Haveli has all the elements of a great book; complete with well-rounded characters, a beautiful setting, humor, drama and some action. All in all a fun read that ends much too soon.” Khadija Zulqarnain (artist based in South Africa)



old lahore8

The Contract

“Read through ‘The contract’ late through the night. Fell in love with both the lead characters. Beautiful romance!”  Sumeetha Manikandan author of The Perfect Groom

“Romance at its sweetest! When school marm Shahira agrees to a contractual marriage with business tycoon Hussain, you know what to expect, but Zeenat Mahal’s unfolding of Shahira and Hussain’s love story is marvellously tender and beguiling. I enjoyed it very much.”  M. M. George author of A Scandalous Proposition

“A striking description of the business of marriage, and how, marriage can never be a business.” Yamini Vijendran (author)




Review of Done with Men by Suchi Singh Kalra


Done With Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra

Kalra’s brilliance in the execution of this novella is three-pronged:
a)she captures the chick-lit genre to perfection with the lovable but slightly neurotic heroine Kay, and the mature, grounded doctor who knows and loves her for who she is, as any sensible man would, duh!
b)her voice is humorous, intelligent and absolutely likeable. She carries the reader through ups and downs, hurdles and jumps, with a laugh here, a smile there and at times, stitches in your stomach with all the laughing. I for one cannot resist self-deprecating, intelligent heroines with a weakness for unfortunate tattoos and underwear.
c)she conveys the Indian setting, the culture clashes and represents the younger Indian generation with all its foibles and its determination to step into the brave new world and claim it as their own.
Rather a lot to achieve in a short novella, and to do it as effortlessly and as skillfully as Kalra does shows true artistic flourish. I’d read anything by her without a second thought, she’s THAT good. Move over Bridgette Jones, Kay’s the new girl we love!

Interviewed by Dilshan Boange of the Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka

It was such a pleasure chatting with Dilshan because not only is he very well- versed in my favourite topic–literature, he is also a very interesting person with insightful, thought provoking queries about the motives that drive a writer. Thoroughly enjoyed this interview.

Snippets from the Interview 

An imprisonment, an entrapment, or an enchantment, that doesn’t bare its face at first, but kindles the heart to glimpse anew, the person within the persona outwardly seen at the outset? How can the concept of traditional arranged marriages be viewed and approached in today’s context? The olden Asian concept and practice of ‘arranged marriages’ are stringently reassessed in today’s digitally modern world for their worth and congruity, and generally perceived as a hindrance to love and romance, being of course what is more ‘idealised’ in the face of alluring and pervasive westernisation through Asian cultures. Or could at times traditional approaches to marriage reveal opportunities that open depths of love in ways that were not thought likely to?

Faiqa Mansab is a Pakistani born writer in Britain who brings these conflicting views of how and what marriage ought to be and in fact allowed to happen through her work as a writer of romance fiction. Writing under the penname –Zeenat Mahal she has authored two novels –Haveli and The Contact that bring into discussion within the stream of love and romance, questions of what relationships mean to the people involved in them from both societal and personal vistas. She is currently reading for her degree of Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at the Kingston University in the UK. The following is my interview of Zeenat on her work and the influences that shaped her as writer and what she sees ahead in her path.

Question: Before discussing your work as a novelist I’d like to ask about your roots in Lahore. It’s a city reputed for its richness of Mughal culture and affluence. My own very first ‘glimpse’ at Lahore, I recall, came from Rudyard Kipling’s Kim when I was an early teen. How has Lahore impacted your pulse as a writer? What were the main ‘Lahori’ influences and factors for you to develop your artistic outlooks?

Answer: Kim’s Lahore is still very much alive. Right opposite Kim’s gun is the Lahore Museum, curated by Rudyard Kipling’s father. It’s a rich landscape and it informs my writing and my thinking. From the shrines of Sufi saints, to the food-streets, the red-light district in old city, the universities, bazaars, there’s so much to tell.

One of the most intriguing elements of Lahore is the architecture. Driving down the straight stretch of the Mall Road one can see structural designs ranging from Mughal, to Colonial, to Contemporary, on one road. It’s just amazing. I so enjoy writing about Lahore. There’s a story waiting to be told at every step.

You can read the rest of the interview here

Random Thoughts Review

Nabanita says about HAVELI on her blog Random Thoughts:

When I was approached for book reviews by Indireads, they provided me a list of novellas to chose from. And there I read the blurb about Haveli. It read A romance novella set inCholistan in the 1970s. The mere mention of a tale set soemwhere in the 1970s was enough for me to take it up before any other novella. What can I say I have a weak spot for stories set in times of yore!

…I began reading Haveli in office on a day when I had absolutely no work. And I finished it in a matter of 4 hours, it was such a pacey read. If you start with it there’s no way you can stop without reaching the last page…The setting of the tale in the 1970s seemed real with the author being able to take you back in time. And any book that helps me time-travel occupies a special place in my heart. Also, the flow is smooth for I moved from one page to the other unaware of the surroundings near me.Zeenat Mahal has the knack of keeping the reader engaged till the very end.

All the characters in the book are well developed which is a really great asset for a yarn. Trust me it isn’t easy to do so which makes Haveli gain a few more points in my view.

Read the rest of the review here


Lindsey from The Lemon Review says about HAVELI:

“I’m always on the lookout for new fiction that pushes the boundaries of what I typically read. Recently, I had the opportunity to do just that with Haveli, by Zeenat Mahal. Haveli is a novella set in 1970’s Pakistan. This intrigued me because a) though I love learning about different cultures, I literally know next to nothing about Pakistan and b) most romance novels I come across have current, futuristic, or regency era time periods.

Haveli is about Chandni, an heiress, who has a modern way of thinking for her time and culture. She’s feisty, intelligent, and determined to get what she wants – even if what she wants is a man who’s about two-decades her senior. In her pursuit, however, she comes across Taimur, the son of a much loved friend of the family. Immediately, Chandni pegs him as an “Alpha Male” and frequently refers to him as such throughout the novella.”

Read the rest of the Review here

On Writing South Asian Romance

When I started writing romance, many of my Western friends and colleagues asked me, so how is South Asian romance different? My initial responses involved the usual themes: big families, their everyday involvement in all things, arranged marriages, class and ethnic differences. However, after having published two novellas and having had them reviewed, I’ve begun to understand that there are many more  dissimilarities that I hadn’t considered before.

The world is interested in South Asian culture and our stories. Yay, for that. However, social taboos and how they’re handled in our part of the world differs immensely from the West. Sometimes there can be huge gaps in understanding. What is perceived as virtue may not be regarded as such in the West, rather as a handicap or as primitive. Modesty, for example, is considered a virtue in both men and women in Islam. In many parts of South Asia, in fact. I don’t just mean not showing skin, but also for instance wearing loose maternity clothes that hide the ‘bump’, rather than showing it off as the ‘essential accessory’. It doesn’t mean that we’re ashamed, it just means we’re unalike.

Honor is tied with behaviour. The opinion of the community matters because we’re still bound as communities in Chawls, and mohallas, ethnic groups, and sub-cultures. Like the ancient Greeks, we have strict laws of hospitality, breaking them would be unthinkable. Beggars, eunuchs, street children are so much part of our consciousness, it may appear that we write about them unconsciously, perhaps even jadedly. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re indifferent to their plight. It demonstrates how disparate our worlds are actually. Ours is a developing world, still struggling with post-colonialism and partitions. It’s a world where little girls get shot in the head because they want proper schooling. It’s a world where criminals often go scot-free because they know a general or two. It’s a world where half the women don’t even report sexual assault. Rape is a four letter word that somehow brings shame not to the perpetrator, but the victim. Even though we condemn the rapist and sympathise with the victim, it’s still something we’re learning to address in a healthy way.

In the West, people are very aware of their rights. In South Asia, rights are relative. It’s something others ‘give’ us. This is a delicate issue with as many heads as a Hydra. There’s the gender politics, of course but there’s also the rich/poor and literate/illiterate divide. The former in both categories are more aware of their rights and their civil duties. The latter fighting for survival, think human rights is just a fancy phrase NGOs use.

One of my novellas has marital rape as part of the plot-line. I wanted to highlight marital abuse and show that women could still have a healthy relationship. I focused on the heroine’s response to the abuse and how she copes with it. I felt that it wasn’t the hero’s battle but hers, so how he responded to the revelation wasn’t important. It was how he responded to her that mattered. His only reaction to her had to be of love and desire, because I was trying to prove the point that other men can still find a rape victim, a divorced woman, the mother of another man’s child, attractive and desirable. Acceptance of rape victims in society by men is not as hard in the West, as it is in our society.

Western readers may not understand certain cultural constraints. In fact they might even be misunderstood for something else entirely. South Asian men  differ from their Western counterparts. For one, I think they’re far more sensitive than the average Western male, thanks to the close matriarchal relationship they benefit from.  Also, South Asian men will not address sexual assault on their wives and sisters without the burden of shame because they share the pain and horror of it with them. Their honor is tied to their women, and again that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when those same men will kill those women because they choose to fall in love. There are other considerations. I write romances for heterosexual women in mind . For a lesbian reader, my heroes would probably be harsh and cruel because I portray them according to the demands of the genre, so they’re very confident alphas. Janice Radway, details the demands of the genre rather well in her book, Reading the Romance.

Today, writers are aware of many demands like safe sex. There are no longer  sex-scenes without the mention of condoms. In fact, Susan Elizabeth Phillips usually has a line or two thrown in about safe sex for good measure just before the hero is about to seduce the heroine. It’s the hero who usually takes responsibility for that and is her mouthpiece.

As a South Asian romance writer, religion, social mores, tradition and culture are a huge part of my stories and I try to integrate these with the modern world that has ended up having a very Westernised sensibility. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. However, I’m a writer trying to make a niche for my unique perspective. I have no desire to lose my pluralistic, hybrid point of view, to a Westernised cookie-cut vision, and that means that sometimes there’ll be things I write that the Western reader will not understand. Pre-marital sex is still an issue in South Asia, perhaps not in metropolitan cities, but largely it is taboo. Will I handle it the same way a Western romance writer does? Of course not. Difference is good. Different is interesting.

As Chinua Achebe has so wisely and eloquently said, “Let every people bring their gifts to the great festival of the world’s cultural harvest and mankind will be the richer for the variety and distinctiveness of the offerings.”

Sunadri Venkatraman’s Double Jeapordy

Indireads, the e-publishing that caters to South Indian sensibilities and tatses boasts contemporary and paranormal romances, historical romances, chick-lit, and fantasy all with a flavour of our very own desi-ness in varying degrees and forms. Most writers at Indireads have done superbly with the rendition of culture, story and context but some of them have pushed boundaries that have hitherto been barely seen in South Asian writing, or if at all in heavy literary epistles. To incorporate such challenging themes as gay couples, love as senior citizens, lustful female ghosts, pre-marital sex and the ‘consequences’ of these choices in romance and chick-lit and fantasy romance is indeed a commendable feat because it brings taboo subjects into the every-day realm. These are our issues and we deal with them even as we laugh, fall in love, dance at weddings that last a week.

One of the novellas that pleasantly surprised me with its bold themes was Double Jeapordy by Sundari Venkatraman. I expected a completely fun and frolic kind of romance but it is much, much more than just that. Extremely well written, Double Jeopardy explores sensitive social issues, fraternal bonds, a young girl’s journey of self-discovery and of course love.

Sundari’s rendition of an Indian household is interesting and gives a non-Indian a wonderful insight into it. One can’t help but fall in love with all the characters, because Sundari’s etched them all with such sensitivity and depth. I really, really enjoyed reading the novella and look forward to reading more from Sundari.

She was recently interviewed by Rubina Ramesh and you can read it here:

You can read more from Sundari on her  blog.

On facebook page of Running out of Ink

Running out of Ink is an online fiction magazine that features an eclectic array of fiction from all over the world. The editor is Amy Kinmond. This is what Running out of Ink posted today:

One of our editors, Zeenat Mahal, is featured on the homepage of Indireads today. She has two ebooks on the site, as well as an audio clip telling us about herself. She is a brilliant writer and we recommend you take a look.