17 South Asian Queer Books to Read for Pride (and all-year round)

Hello everyone! Happy Pride Month. Today I am so happy to be highlighting some amazing South Asian books! This list is just a drop in the ocean and I hope you’ll pick up a book (or two) to read from this list. Also make sure to try and read these books all year round and not just for this month. Support all the amazing books all year round and hype them and love them. These books either have and/or are written by queer people.

I haven’t read all of these books yet but I do hope that this list inspires you to pick up South Asian queer books too and not just resort to books by white authors. These books deserve the same hype and love.

I also wanted to add that Pride month is celebrated in June because of the Stonewall riots and was built on the work, sweat and blood of trans women of colour and Black trans women. So don’t forget to speak up and make your voice heard for the people in need now and ahead!

The Henna Wars-Adiba Jaigirdar

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses. This was a super amazing book with important themes like cultural appropriation discussed.

The Henna Wars

The Fabulous Feminist- Suniti Namjoshi

This new collection brings together in one volume a huge range of Namjoshi’s writings, starting with her classic collection, ‘Feminist Fables’, and coming right up to her latest work bout power, about inequality, about oppression, effectively using the power of language and the literary tradition to expose what she finds absurd and unacceptable.

The Fabulous Feminist

Cobalt Blue- Sachin Kundalkar

Cobalt Blue, the story of a brother and sister who fall in love with the same man, and how a traditional Marathi family is shattered by the ensuing events – a work that both shocked and spoke to Marathi readers.

Cobalt Blue

Marriage of a Thousand Lies- SJ Sindu

Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a vivid exploration of a life lived at a complex intersection of race, sexuality, and nationality. The result is a profoundly American debut novel shot through with humor and loss, a story of love, family, and the truths that define us all.

Marriage of a Thousand Lies

The Devourers- Indra Das

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

The Devourers

Nights Like This- Divya Sood

While the characters in NIGHTS LIKE THIS are rooted in the South Asian LGBT community, their lives and stories, their dramas and heartbreaks are universal. For anyone who has ever loved or been loved, NIGHTS LIKE THIS is a story worth reading.

Nights Like This

She of the Mountains- Vivek Shraya

She of the Mountains is a beautifully rendered illustrated novel by Vivek Shraya, the author of the Lambda Literary Award finalist God Loves Hair. Shraya weaves a passionate, contemporary love story between a man and his body, with a re-imagining of Hindu mythology. Both narratives explore the complexities of embodiment and the damaging effects that policing gender and sexuality can have on the human heart.

She of the Mountains

Love Bi the Way- Bhaavna Arora

Rihana is a painter who is trying to find inspiration in love. Zara is a businesswoman trying to make a niche for her company in a male-dominated world. Rihana is fire, Zara is ice; Rihana is openly sensual, while Zara is more cautious with her heart—they are opposites that attract. They are different people bound together by their house—‘Cupid’—and their pet golden retriever, Tiger.

Love Bi the Way

Moving Truth(s): Queer and Transgender desi writings on family

As a community-building project, this anthology was created from a heart-centered place involving not only collective editing and story-development, but also providing contributors room to expand, heal and connect with one another across boundaries of experience.  To bring conversations about gender and sexuality home to family and community. To serve ourselves and our families and communities in better understanding the lives of queer and transgender individuals by sharing our stories – our truths – and together move toward a place of inquiry and respect, such that “truth” itself is moved to a new place.

Moving Truth(s): Queer and Transgender Desi Writings on Family

We are totally normal- Rahul Kanakia

From Rahul Kanakia comes a raw and deeply felt story about rejecting labels, seeking connection, and finding yourself.

We Are Totally Normal

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali- Sabina Khan

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali

If they come for us- Fatimah Asghar

Poet and co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series “Brown Girls” captures the experience of being a Pakistani Muslim woman in contemporary America, while exploring identity, violence, and healing.

If They Come for Us

The Path of Marriage- Mala Kumar

Three generations of Indian and Indian-American women navigate the harsh slums of Chennai to the bustle of New York City, struggling through a cathartic generational collision to try to come together as a family.

The Paths of Marriage

Scavenge the Stars- Tara Sim

Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo.

Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, #1)

Cinnamon Gardens- Shyam Selvadurai

Set among the upper classes in the gracious, repressive and complex world of 1920s Ceylon (Sri Lanka), this evocative novel tells the story of two people who must determine if it is possible to pursue personal happiness without compromising the happiness of others. With sensuous atmosphere and vivid prose, this masterfully plotted novel re-creates a world where a beautiful veneer of fragrant gardens and manners hides social, personal, and political issues still relevant today.

Cinnamon Gardens

The Man who was a Woman and other Queer Tales from Hindu Lore- Devdutt Pattanaik

The Man Who Was a Woman and Other Queer Tales from Hindu Lore is a compilation of traditional Hindu stories with a common thread: sexual transformation and gender metamorphosis. In addition to the thought-provoking stories in The Man Who Was a Woman and Other Queer Tales from Hindu Lore, you’ll also find: an examination of the universality of queer narratives with examples from Greek lore and Irish folklore. With the telling of each of these tales, you will also learn how the author came upon each of them and how they relate to the context of dominant Hindu attitudes toward sex, gender, pleasure, fertility, and celibacy.

The Man Who Was a Woman and Other Queer Tales of Hindu Lore (Haworth Gay & Lesbian Studies) (Haworth Gay & Lesbian Studies)

Funny Boy- Shyam Selvadurai

In FUNNY BOY we follow the life of the family through Arjie’s eyes, as he comes to terms both with his own homosexuality and with the racism of the society in which he lives. Written in clear, simple prose, Syam Selvadurai’s first novel is masterly in its mingling of the personal and political.

Funny Boy

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Have you read any of these books?

Which are your favourite queer books? Especially South Asian queer books? Tell me about it!

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16 thoughts on “17 South Asian Queer Books to Read for Pride (and all-year round)

  1. I just added Love Bi the Way to Goodreads because of you! I’m shamefully not well-versed with queer South Asian books, so this post is incredibly helpful to me. Awesome list, Krisha!

    Liked by 1 person

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