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*CCPL Staff picks are chosen by CCPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We’d love to hear your ideas too, so write to us and tell us what you’d recommend!*

What are Own Voices books?

Starting as a social media hashtag, Own Voices is a descriptor used to label books that feature protagonists from marginalized communities written by authors from those communities. This movement was created to remark on the distinction between having diverse representation in books and having those characters actually written by members of those communities. #OwnVoices was specifically created to address this issue among kid literature by Young Adult author Corrine Duyvis and has evolved into a marker across all demographics of readership.

For further explanation, here are two resources you can read through:

Own Voices: India

India is a country that occupies a significant portion of the South Asian region. According to Britannica, it is the second most populated country in the world and home to hundreds of languages among its thousands of ethnic groups. This month, we have put together a list of books by authors of Indian heritage. 

The City Inside by Samit Basu

The City Inside, a near-future epic by the internationally celebrated Samit Basu, pulls no punches as it comes for your anxieties about society, government, the environment, and our world at large-yet never loses sight of the hopeful potential of the future. 

“They’d known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.”

Joey is a Reality Controller in near future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia’s fastest rising online celebrities-who also happens to be her college ex. Joey’s job gives her considerable culture-power, but she’s too caught up in day-to-day crisis-handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life.

Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family who fled to an impoverished immigrant neighborhood where he loses himself in video games and his neighbors’ lives. When his father’s death pulls him back into his family’s orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted. 

But no good deed goes unpunished. As Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control, complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold around them, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a shadowy world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not–cannot–take the same shape for these two very different people. – From Cosmos

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra

When clever, headstrong Kaveri moves to Bangalore to marry handsome young doctor Ramu, she’s resigned herself to a quiet life. 

But that all changes the night of the party at the Century Club, where she escapes to the garden for some peace and quiet–and instead spots an uninvited guest in the shadows. 

Half an hour later, the party turns into a murder scene. When a vulnerable woman is connected to the crime, Kaveri becomes determined to save her and launches a private investigation to find the killer, tracing his steps from an illustrious brothel to an Englishman’s mansion. She soon finds that sleuthing in a sari isn’t as hard as it seems when you have a talent for mathematics, a head for logic, and a doctor for a husband…

And she’s going to need them all as the case leads her deeper into a hotbed of danger, sedition, and intrigue in Bangalore’s darkest alleyways. – From Cosmos

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Likened to the works of Faulkner and Dickens, this extraordinarily accomplished debut novel is a brilliantly plotted story of forbidden love and piercing political drama, centered on an affluent Indian family that is forever changed by a visit from their English relatives.

Set mainly in Kerala, India, in 1969, it is the story of Rahel and her twin brother Estha, who learn that their whole world can change in a single day, that love and life can be lost in a moment. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they seek to craft a childhood for themselves amid the wreckage that constitutes their family.

Sweet and heartbreaking, ribald and profound, The God of Small Things is written in a voice so powerful and original that it burns itself into the reader’s memory. – From Publisher

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist – and confidante – to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own… 

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow – a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does. – From Cosmos

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Set in a world inspired by historical India, The Jasmine Throne begins a sweeping new epic fantasy trilogy in which a captive princess and a servant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies–and eventually, much more than allies–on a dark journey to save their empire. 

Imprisoned by her tyrannical brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless water–but is now little more than a decaying ruin. 

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides. 

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to claim a throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire. – From Cosmos

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

“I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions–much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s tale. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on grand stories about the might and benevolence of the gods: how they churned vast oceans to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they offer the devoted and the wise magnificent boons, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land prospers. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, her own worth measured by how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear. 

Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the ancient texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. She uses it to transform herself from overlooked princess into warrior, diplomat, and most-favored queen, determined to forge a better world for herself than the one that gods and men have granted. 

But as the demons of stories Kaikeyi grew up hearing threaten the cosmic order, her will clashes with the path that the gods have chosen for her family–and especially that of her beloved son, Rama. And she must decide if her resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak… and what legacy she intends to leave behind. – From Cosmos

The Shaadi Set-Up by Lillie Vale

In this witty and heartfelt rom-com debut for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Emily Henry, and Tessa Bailey, an Indian American woman signs herself and her boyfriend up for a matchmaking site to prove they’re a perfect match, only to be paired with her ex instead.

High school sweethearts Rita Chitniss and Milan Rao were the golden couple, until the day he broke her heart. Now, six years later, Rita has turned her passion for furniture restoration into a career and has an almost-perfect boyfriend, Neil. The last thing she needs is for Milan to re-enter her life, but that’s exactly what happens when her mother, an unfailing believer in second chances, sets them up. Milan is just as charming, cocky, and confident as he was back in school. Only this time, he actually needs her business expertise, not her heart, to flip a hard-to-sell house for his realty agency. 

While Rita begrudgingly agrees to help, she’s not taking any risks. To prove she’s definitely over him, she signs herself and Neil up on MyShaadi.com, a Desi matchmaking site famous for its success stories and trustworthy enough to convince everyone that she and Neil are the new and improved couple. Instead, she’s shocked when MyShaadi’s perfect match for her isn’t Neil…it’s Milan. Ignoring the website and her mother is one thing, but ignoring Milan proves much more difficult, especially when she promises to help him renovate the beach house of her dreams. And as the two of them dive deeper into work—and their pasts—Rita begins to wonder if maybe her match wasn’t so wrong after all…. – From Publisher

Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker

In a world where demigods and demons walk among mortals, the Emperor of the vast Burnt Empire has died, leaving a turbulent realm without an emperor. Two young princes, Adri and Shvate, are in line to rule, but birthright does not guarantee inheritance: For any successor must sit upon the legendary Burning Throne and pass The Test of Fire. Imbued with dark sorceries, the throne is a crucible–one that incinerates the unworthy. 

Adri and Shvate pass The Test and are declared heirs to the empire… but there is another with a claim to power, another who also survives: a girl from an outlying kingdom. When this girl, whose father is the powerful demonlord Jarsun, is denied her claim by the interim leaders, Jarsun declares war, vowing to tear the Burnt Empire apart–leaving the young princes Adri and Shvate to rule a shattered realm embroiled in rebellion and chaos. – From Cosmos