13 Kickass South Asian Female Authors You Need to Read 

For Women’s History Month, we made it our mission to highlight voices from different backgrounds. Let’s dive into South Asian Female Authors!

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three photographs of authors Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy and Saba Imtiaz

Every day is a great day to read literature by female authors, and this Women’s History Month we’re highlighting some of our favorites! This list is by no means exhaustive; there are plenty of South Asian female authors who aren’t mentioned here but whose works are equally incredible. 

Jhumpa Lahiri 

black and white still of Jhumpa Lahiri
IMAGE VIA PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Notable works: Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Whereabouts

Starting this list off with the renowned Jhumpa Lahiri, whose award-winning stories shed light on the Indian-American experience in the most captivating way possible. The movie adaptation of her first novel, The Namesake, was well received on screen. She taught creative writing at Princeton University and returned to her alma mater, Barnard College, as the director of creative writing.  

Arundhati Roy 

Notable works: The God of Small Things, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, The Cost of Living

Author, political activist, human rights advocate, environmentalist? Is there anything the incredible Arundhati Roy doesn’t do? If you’re familiar with Arundhati Roy, you probably know how vociferous she is on human rights issues, how strongly she opposes the Indian government on many fronts and how she fights for the rights of minorities. Her writing is intersectional with what she’s most passionate for, and the plethora of awards bestowed on her speak to her level of intellect and unparalleled prose that makes her as distinguished as she is. 

Kamila Shamsie

Notable works: Kartography, Burnt Shadows, Home Fire, Best of Friends 

Internationally renowned, award-winning author Kamila Shamsie is a delight to read. In the City by the Sea made us fall in love with Karachi through the naive lens of an 11-year-old, while Home Fire is a gripping read on family bonds, love, and betrayal. 

Fatima Farheen Mirza 

Notable works: A Place for Us

A Place for Us is a powerful read that is surprisingly relatable in the way it sheds light on family dynamics familiar to many. This is her first and only novel so far, but anything else she writes will be nothing short of another masterpiece. 

Bapsi Sidhwa 

Notable works: Ice Candy Man, The Crow Eaters, An American Brat

portrait of author Bapsi Sidhwa
Image via Librarywala

Any avid reader of South Asian literature knows that Bapsi Sidhwa is unequivocally one of the best authors in the field. A veteran in writing about Pakistan and India, Sidhwa’s novels vividly capture the delicate and complex nuances of the sociopolitical landscape she grew up within.

Thrity Umrigar 

Notable works: The Space Between Us, Honor, Bombay Time

portrait of author Thrity Umrigar
Image via Thrity Umrigar

Another veteran author of South Asian literature, Thrity Umrigar is an incredibly talented author whose ability to transport the audience to her settings is remarkable. Her experience as an award-winning journalist is a testament to her captivating prose.  

SJ Sindu

Notable works: Marriage of a Thousand Lies, Blue-Skinned Gods

portrait of author SJ Sindu
Image via Virginia Commonwealth University

SJ Sindu is a fresh voice among South Asian authors writing on themes of identity, sexuality, and family. She holds a PhD in creative writing and also teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Sabba Khan 

Notable works: The Roles We Play, What is Home, Mum? 

Sabba Khan is a London-based South Asian graphic novelist, visual artist, and architect. Her debut graphic novel, The Roles We Play, is already the recipient of several awards. It explores identity, belonging, and her experience as a second-generation Azad-Kashmiri migrant in East London. 

Saba Imtiaz 

Notable works: Karachi, You’re Killing Me!

portrait of author Saba Imtiaz
Image via International Women’s Media Foundation

Saba Imtiaz is an author, journalist and researcher currently based in the Middle East. Her outstanding book Karachi, You’re Killing Me! Was adapted into a Bollywood movie, Noor. Saba has written for The Guardian, The New York Times, The Atlantic and BBC, among several other publications. 

Fatima Bhutto 

Notable works: Songs of Blood and Sword, The Runaways, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon

portrait of author Fatima Bhutto
Image via The Shipman Agency

A prolific writer and columnist with a tumultuous political family background, Fatima Bhutto is a longtime critic of her aunt, Benazir Bhutto, and uncle Asif Zardari. Her commentary and activism for social and economic issues within Pakistan makes her one of the most respected voices in the country.

Fatimah Asghar

Notable works: When We Were Sisters, If They Come For Us

portrait of author Fatima Asghar
Image via Poetry Foundation

An author, poet, filmmaker and all-round storyteller, Fatimah Asghar knows how to flow between a myriad of themes and genres in the work they produce. Their storytelling surrounds themes of identity, religion and relationships, particularly as a Muslim. 

Dur-e-Aziz Amna 

Notable works: American Fever

Image via Dur e Aziz Amna

Dur e Aziz Amna is the debut novelist of American Fever, a coming-of-age, coming-to-America novel lauded for its witty, feel-good perspective that is highly relatable to many. She has written extensively on food and culture, travel as well as personal essays, and is the recipient of many awards and accolades. In 2022 she was named in Forbes’ 30 under 30

Tehmina Durrani 

Notable works: My Feudal Lord, A Mirror to the Blind

Tehmina Durrani potrait -- south asian authors
Image via Tehmina Durrani

Author, activist, and wife of current Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Tehmina Durrani is best known for her first book My Feudal Lord, where she revealed the truth about her politically famous but abusive husband Mustafa Khar. Her extensive time with late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi led her to write A Mirror to the Blind.  


And with that, we’ve reached the end of our list of incredible South Asian female authors. Check out more awesome female authors of color here!

FEATURED IMAGE VIA ANUSHE ENGINEER / BOOKSTR