The best books highlighting the range of Indian voices in America

Who am I?

I’ve spent my life as an avid reader, but I hadn’t seen my culture represented in many books, so I began writing the stories that I wished had existed on the shelves when I was younger. It took until my forties for my books to be published, and for me to start finding stories by other Indian authors like me, but better late than never! As someone who has lived in multiple countries and traveled to more than 70 others, I’m no stranger to writing about and searching for places that feel like home, and each of these books helped bring a piece of home to me.


I wrote...

The Direction of the Wind

By Mansi Shah,

Book cover of The Direction of the Wind

What is my book about?

Sophie Shah was six when she learned her mother, Nita, had died. For twenty-two years, she shouldered the burden of that loss. But when her father passes away, Sophie discovers a cache of hidden letters revealing a shattering truth: her mother didn’t die. She left.

Nita Shah had everything most women dreamed of in her hometown of Ahmedabad, India―a loving husband, a doting daughter, financial security―but in her heart, she felt like she was living a lie. Fueled by her creative ambitions, Nita moved to Paris, the artists’ capital of the world―even though it meant leaving her family behind. But once in Paris, Nita’s decision and its consequences would haunt her in ways she never expected. Now that Sophie knows the truth, she’s determined to find the mother who abandoned her. 

The books I picked & why

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Tell Me How to Be

By Neel Patel,

Book cover of Tell Me How to Be

Why this book?

Neel Patel and I grew up in similar parts of the Midwest, are around the same age, and are both Gujarati, so when I read this novel, I felt so seen. He deftly covers a young man’s journey of coming out to his traditional family, while also sharing the perspective of the mother discovering who her son really is, but this book has many more layers beyond those. The little details that Patel seamlessly weaves throughout the novel including how the family interacts with one another and how the main character’s childhood is described reminded me of my own family and upbringing. Patel is pushing the boundaries on what Indian American authors are writing, and this story was so satisfying to read. 

Tell Me How to Be

By Neel Patel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tell Me How to Be as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* INAUGURAL LILLY'S LIBRARY BOOK CLUB PICK FROM LILLY SINGH *

“A beautiful book about a mother and son…I really loved this book.”—Rumaan Alam on The TODAY Show

“My first great read of 2022…[Will] make you cringe with recognition and melt with longing.” —Jennifer Weiner

“This debut novel about an Indian-American family has all the right ingredients: family secrets, love, sexuality, loss, identity questions and remorse.” —Good Morning America

Renu Amin always seemed perfect. But as the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death approaches, she is binge-watching soap operas and simmering with old resentments. She can’t stop wondering if, thirty-five…


The Candid Life of Meena Dave

By Namrata Patel,

Book cover of The Candid Life of Meena Dave

Why this book?

This novel was a breath of fresh air, as it was the first novel I’d read centering Gujarati American characters without focusing mostly on their identity as immigrants. Namrata Patel tells a nuanced and entertaining story that fed my wanderlust because the main character is a photojournalist who trots the globe on her quest for the perfect shot…and where she can call home. As someone who has moved often in life and is passionate about visiting and learning about other countries and cultures, I’ve wrestled with the idea of where home is, and I really resonated with that sentiment in this book. There is also a loving, gossipy gaggle of Aunties that everyone can laugh with, shake their head at, and root for.

The Candid Life of Meena Dave

By Namrata Patel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Candid Life of Meena Dave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A woman embarks on an unexpected journey into her past in an engrossing novel about identity, family secrets, and rediscovering the need to belong.

Meena Dave is a photojournalist and a nomad. She has no family, no permanent address, and no long-term attachments, preferring to observe the world at a distance through the lens of her camera. But Meena's solitary life is turned upside down when she unexpectedly inherits an apartment in a Victorian brownstone in historic Back Bay, Boston.

Though Meena's impulse is to sell it and keep moving, she decides to use her journalistic instinct to follow the…


Well-Behaved Indian Women

By Saumya Dave,

Book cover of Well-Behaved Indian Women

Why this book?

I was in my forties, the first time I ever read a novel about a Gujarati American family, and this was the one. I was on a beach in Mexico, experiencing for the first time what it felt like to see my comfort foods, my family’s mannerisms, and my culture’s ideologies represented in a book. The story is told from the perspective of three generations of women in a family and it made me think about my own relationships with my mother and grandmother, and what secrets each of them may be carrying because nothing is ever as simple as it seems. 

Well-Behaved Indian Women

By Saumya Dave,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Well-Behaved Indian Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A sparkling debut.”—Emily Giffin, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author 

From a compelling new voice in women's fiction comes a mother-daughter story about three generations of women who struggle to define themselves as they pursue their dreams.

Simran Mehta has always felt harshly judged by her mother, Nandini, especially when it comes to her little "writing hobby." But when a charismatic and highly respected journalist careens into Simran's life, she begins to question not only her future as a psychologist, but her engagement to her high school sweetheart.

Nandini Mehta has strived to create an easy life for her children…


Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me

By Sopan Deb,

Book cover of Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me

Why this book?

There is so much wit and humor in this memoir that touches upon the immigrant experience from the perspective of the first-generation adult child. Deb goes on a journey to learn who his parents are as individuals and gains a perspective that is often difficult to achieve in the Indian community because parents don’t often share with their children who they are on the inside. The vulnerability with which Deb shares his childhood desire to blend into the white community in which he was raised was so relatable because I’d had a similar upbringing in another part of the country. This book made me laugh hard, think more deeply, and want to know my parents better.

Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me

By Sopan Deb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Missed Translations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bittersweet and humorous memoir of family—of the silence and ignorance that separate us, and the blood and stories that connect us—from an award-winning New York Times writer and comedian.

Approaching his 30th birthday, Sopan Deb had found comfort in his day job as a writer for the New York Times and a practicing comedian. But his stage material highlighting his South Asian culture only served to mask the insecurities borne from his family history. Sure, Deb knew the facts: his parents, both Indian, separately immigrated to North America in the 1960s and 1970s. They were brought together in a…


No Ordinary Thursday

By Anoop Judge,

Book cover of No Ordinary Thursday

Why this book?

Like me, the author is a former lawyer, so I knew I had to read her book, and it did not disappoint. Judge pushes the boundaries of what we have traditionally seen from Indian American authors and tells a complex story of how a single day can forever change one’s path. Told from multiple perspectives, her characters break stereotypes and make some questionable decisions, but beneath it all are still rooted in love and loyalty to their family. Judge gracefully tackles topics like addiction, filial piety, and divorce, subjects that are not often discussed openly in the Indian community. This one was both heart-wrenching and hopeful.

No Ordinary Thursday

By Anoop Judge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Ordinary Thursday as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A family, broken by the shattering turns of a single day, will do anything to find their way back to one another.

Lena Sharma is a successful San Francisco restaurateur. An immigrant, she's cultivated an image of conservatism and tradition in her close-knit Indian community. But when Lena's carefully constructed world begins to crumble, her ties to her daughter, Maya, and son, Sameer-both raised in thoroughly modern California-slip further away.

Maya, divorced once, becomes engaged to a man twelve years her junior: Veer Kapoor, the son of Lena's longtime friend. Immediately Maya feels her mother's disgrace and the judgment of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in India, Indian Americans, and journalists?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about India, Indian Americans, and journalists.

India Explore 333 books about India
Indian Americans Explore 21 books about Indian Americans
Journalists Explore 129 books about journalists

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Interpreter of Maladies, Red, White, and Whole, and The Knockout if you like this list.