10 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read

DESIblitz lists 10 contemporary Desi authors you must check out via their sterling books. Read on to find out more.

7 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - F

"Captivated me from the first chapter to the final page."

Through the magic of storytelling, contemporary Desi authors never fail to inspire and entertain.

Their natural flair for drama and compelling narratives always leave readers hungry for more.

These authors write in a variety of genres and present memorable characters.

It is no wonder that readers make it a point to seek out their work, ready to devour their books one after another.

Dive into the fascinating treasure trove of literature, as DESIblitz showcases 10 contemporary Desi authors you must read.

Amita Trasi

7 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Amita TrasiWhen one talks about writing debuts, few hit it out of the park with an impact like Amita Trasi.

The author of The Colour of Our Sky (2015), Amita weaves a compelling story.

In 1980s India, a girl of a lower cast named Mukta makes friends with an elite girl called Tara.

Gradually, through ice cream and reading, their bond blossoms into one of sisterhood.

However, one overcast night in 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s house.

A new life awaits Tara in Los Angeles but the mysterious disappearance of her friend shapes her days.

Was she responsible for Mukta’s kidnap?

Reminiscent of The Kite Runner (2003) by Khaled Hosseini, Amita carves together a tale of woe and friendship.

Author Shilpi Somaya Gowda praises The Colour of Our Sky and says:

“This is an important story, sensitive and unflinching, of two childhood friends and their indelible bond.”

With such an emotional debut, readers eagerly anticipate the next works of Amita Trasi.

Sara Desai

10 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Sara DesaiIn the exciting world of dating and heists, Sara Desai excels as a writer.

Her ‘Marriage Game’ series includes breathtaking and witty novels such as The Marriage Game (2022) and The Dating Plan (2022).

In 2023, Sara also released To Have and To Heist (2023). It tells the gripping tale of the unlucky Simi Chopra.

Up to her eyeballs in debt, she embarks on heist with the charming but enigmatic Jack.

This is to retrieve a missing necklace.

Common themes in Sara’s writing are sex and consent. She discusses her thoughts on these themes:

“When I mentor new authors, I always remind them that sex scenes are not about sex but about emotion.

“These tender moments are opportunities for the characters to open up and expose their vulnerabilities, to trust and be trusted, to share secrets, hopes and dreams.

“Establishing consent at the beginning of each scene is very important.”

Sara Desai is an essential voice whose books deserve to be read and enjoyed.

Alisha Rai

10 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Alisha RaiReaders are always looking for new, fresh avenues in romance.

Alisha Rai explores passion and romance with a startling originality.

Her ‘Forbidden Hearts’ series explores affairs and sexuality with an unmatched fervour.

The second book in the series is Wrong to Need You (2017), in which Jackson Kane and his brother’s widow Sadia Ahmed can’t resist their desire for each other.

Stepping away from ‘Forbidden Hearts’, Alisha builds a captivating world in Partners in Crime (2022).

In this racy romance, Mira Patel and Naveen Desai – once ex-lovers – find themselves drawn back to each other.

Suddenly, they find themselves kidnapped in the bustling city of Las Vegas.

Lindsey Kelk says: “Smart and sexy with banter to die for, Partners in Crime is the sizzling second chance romance you need in your life.”

Booklist praises the book, highlighting three aspects:

“Witty banter, red-hot sexual chemistry, and endlessly engaging characters.”

Sharp, funny, and romantic, Partners in Crime is a must-read for fans of Desi authors.

Sabaa Tahir

10 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Sabaa TahirSabaa Tahir shimmers with a spark that burns bright in her books.

One of her offerings is All My Rage (2022).

The story takes place in two places. In Lahore, Pakistan, we meet Misbah who is a storyteller.

She has married Toufiq, but when tragedy strikes, they move to America.

Meanwhile, in Juniper, California, Salahudin and Noor are close friends but their bond is later destroyed.

Misbah’s health fails, while Noor and Salahudin must determine whether their friendship is worth fighting for.

All My Rage proved to be an unforgettable reading experience, with Sabaa winning the National Book Award in 2022.

Author Samira Ahmed writes: “Sabaa Tahir shows us the healing, redemptive power of forgiveness, of hope, of connection in her stunning contemporary debut.”

Also famous for her stunning ‘Ember’ series, Sabaa is a force to be reckoned with in literature.

Alka Joshi

7 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Alka JoshiBest known for her ‘Jaipur’ trilogy, Alka Joshi knows how to put readers through a sensitive emotional wringer.

The trilogy consists of The Henna Artist (2020), The Secret Keeper of Jaipur (2022), and The Perfumist of Paris (2023).

The first two novels focus on Lakshmi who escapes from an abusive marriage in 1950s Jaipur.

Speaking glowingly of The Henna Artist, the popular actor Reese Witherspoon says:

“Captivated me from the first chapter to the final page.”

The Perfumist of Paris shifts the focus to Radha – who misses the baby boy she gave up.

She indulges in the treasure trove of scents and aromas.

Alka delves into what she feels is essential for the creation of a great story:

“For me, a great story is one where I can empathise with the characters—their strengths as well as their flaws.

“I cheer them on and I feel their pain.

“A great story is also one that immerses me in place; I lose myself in the setting, whether it’s in another century, another country or another culture.”

All these aspects are clearly evident in Alka’s writing, making her one of the best contemporary Desi authors.

Yasser Usman

7 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Yasser UsmanWithin the Indian aspect of literature, Bollywood biographies are a popular form of writing.

Yasser Usman is arguably the best-known writer in this space.

He is famous for writing biographies about Rajesh Khanna, Rekha, Sanjay Dutt, and Guru Dutt.

In Rajesh Khanna (2014), Yaseer underlines the loneliness and superstardom of the Aradhana actor.

Meanwhile, Guru Dutt: An Unfinished Story (2020) narrates the enthralling saga of the legendary filmmaker and his wife Geeta Dutt.

It skillfully tells the story of a couple bound by love, yet broken by art.

The ace director Imtiaz Ali labels Guru Dutt: An Unfinished Story as “insightful and intriguing”.

Ritesh Batra adds: “The book is a page-turner for sure!

“It was on point and I appreciated that it had so much to say and in such a simple way. Very well-written.”

The veteran screenwriter Salim Khan talks positively about Rajesh Khanna:

“Nobody really knew Rajesh Khanna. This book comes the closest to understanding him.”

If readers wish to gain a detailed insight into the eventful lives of Bollywood stars, Yasser Usman is a great choice.

Saadia Faruqi

7 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Saadia FaruqiTargeting younger readers with her jovial writing, Saadia Faruqi is a masterful storyteller.

With masterpieces such as A Thousand Questions (2022) and The Partition Project (2024) under her belt, Saadia is one of the best writers on the scene.

Divulging her representation, Saadia explains:

“I grew up in Pakistan, so I had a lot of representation because everybody was like me.

“When I read books, I [wasn’t lacking for] stories that were about kids like me, but I felt like my kids [were] missing that piece.

“So I decided to write a story about kids — kids like my kids — and see whether it went anywhere. And it did.

“I was working on another novel when this opportunity came about to write for kids.

“When that started growing as a career path [for me], I decided to stick with it.”

“It’s been interesting going from writing for grown-ups to writing for kids, and even within the kids’ books, I have different age groups that I write for.

“But when you get over 10 years old, that’s where I put in [heavier issues].

“You know, all my novels for that age and older do have serious topics in them.”

Saadia Faruqi is well-versed in children’s literature and the results are there for all to see.

Sajni Patel

7 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Sajni PatelOne of the most diverse contemporary Desi authors, Sajni Patel has dabbled in several genres of writing.

These include romance, fantasy, and sports material.

Her talent glows in books including The Knockout (2021), My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding (2022), and A Drop of Venom (2024).

The national best-selling author Jesse Q Sutanto heaps praises on My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding:

“A vibrant and luscious celebration of the Indian culture.

“I couldn’t have enough of everything—the extravagant wedding, the gorgeous outfits, the food, and of course, Patel’s trademark strong female mains.”

Sajni reflects on how she got into writing.

She says: “My mind was always wandering off, imagining, creating whenever I wasn’t stuck in a book or graphic novel.

“I was encouraged by teachers and friends to write more.”

“I let my creativity run rampant with extraordinary amounts of plot holes and inconsistencies.”

Explaining her inspiration, Sajni continues:

“I took inspiration from personal experiences and things I’ve always wanted to say and situations where I wanted a redo and focused on the things that made me me.

“The intersectionality of so many areas of being an Indian immigrant woman growing up in the heart of Texas.”

If you’re looking for a dynamic author who spins gratifying tales, Sajni Patel should be high on your list.

Sunjeev Sahota

7 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Sunjeev SahotaAt the heart of Sunjeev Sahota’s career is family, pain, and moral dilemmas.

He is able to meld several elements together to create vivid stories that stay with readers.

Sunjeev began writing in 2011, with the release of his debut novel Ours Are The Streets.

He continues to entertain readers with gems including The Year of the Runaways (2015) and China Room (2021).

In The Spoiled Heart (2024), Sunjeev chronicles the tale of Nayan Olak, who “hasn’t risked love since his young son died”.

He works at a union, but Megha Sharma and Helen Fletcher threaten his chances of creating the world he wants for his son.

Financial Times underscores the topical nature of the book:

Restless, inquiring, utterly topical. 

The Spoiled Heart may be [Sunjeev]’s finest yet, with a tumultuous but perfectly sustained ending that proves both moving and revelatory.”

In an interview, Sunjeev reveals his thoughts on race – an aspect consistently explored in his writing:

“There was a lot of anger and a deep sense of betrayal that still hangs in the air in Chesterfield.

“I think that kind of despair and anger affected all races in the working class and I remember thinking that, as much as race, class is going to be a big factor for me.”

It takes courage to depict your thoughts for the world to read. For that, Sunjeev Sahota should be applauded.

Vaishnavi Patel

7 Contemporary Desi Authors to Read - Vaishnavi Patel Vaishnavi Patel has created a unique place for herself in the realm of authorship.

Her first book is Kaikeyi (2022), a story told by a character from the Indian epic Ramayan. 

Kaikeyi quickly became a TikTok sensation and readers all around the world loved it.

With her second novel, Goddess of the River, Vaishnavi returns to Indian mythology, narrating a haunting story about Ganga and her son Bhishma from Mahabharat.

In an exclusive interview with DESIblitz, Vaishnavi sheds light on what fascinates her about Indian mythology:

“I grew up in an Indian household and grew up hearing these stories.

“I read the Amar Chitra Katha and I watched the animated versions.

“These were always the backbone of my cultural upbringing – stories – and so, they just formed a large part of who I am as a person.

“I think one thing that is really fascinating about writing about these epics is that today, unlike a lot of other epic mythologies, which are equally beautiful, these epics are part of a living religion.”

This fascination is what transports readers to a different world. With so much adulation, readers can look forward to Vaishnavi’s upcoming book The 10 Incarnations of Rebellion, due for release in 2025.

These authors have the knack of engulfing readers in various places.

Readers are introduced to unforgettable tales and characters.

These writers are some of the best of our time.

So, snuggle up with a hot drink, and prepare to be captivated by these incredible contemporary Desi authors.

Manav is a creative writing graduate and a die-hard optimist. His passions include reading, writing and helping others. His motto is: “Never hang on to your sorrows. Always be positive."

Images courtesy of Amazon UK, The New York Times, Audible UK, Sara Desai and Writer's Digest.

  • What's New



  • Polls

    What are you going to miss most about Zayn Malik?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Share to...