The pride month is here! A time where us queer folks gather in solidarity as big corporates indulge in ‘rainbow capitalism’. Here are 8 Asian authors you need to read this pride month.


Hoshang Merchant

Born in 1947 to a Zoroastrian family in Mumbai, Merchant studied in Los Angeles and Purdue. He is known as the first openly gay poet in Modern India. He edited India’s first gay anthology Yaraana: Gay Writing from India. Merchant is the author of 20 books of poetry and 4 critical studies. He even taught poetry and surrealism at the University of Hyderabad for more than two decades.


Akhil Katyal

Katyal is a New Delhi based poet, teacher and translator. His openly queer poetry revolves around cities and the remnants of the past. Katyal was an Asst. Professor at the Department of English of SGTB Khalsa College, Ramjas College and St. Stephens’ College, he even taught at the Shiv Nadar University. He currently teaches at Ambedkar University, Delhi.  Katyal is best known for his collection of poems, How Many Countries does the Indus Cross? And his collection Night Charge Extra.  He also translated Ravish Kumar’s collection of poems, Ishq Mein Shahar Hona (A city happens in love).


Sara Farizan

Iranian-American Sara Farizan is the author of the 2013 novel If You Could Be Mine, a novel set in Tehran, Iran revolving around two girls who fall in love. The book went on to win the Lamba Literary Award. Farizan wrote the novel after realising her own sexuality and the taboo around it, especially in the Persian Community. She is also the author of Here To Stay and Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel.


Aditi Angiras

Aditi Angiras is the founder of Bring Back The Poets, a spoken word poetry collective. She founded the collective in 2014, after her tryst with music, cinema and rap. Angiras is also a queer activist, intersectional feminist and a TED speaker. One of her notable poems is My Mad Girl’s Love Song based on Sylvia Plath’s poem  Mad Girl’s Love Song. Angiras is also the co-editor along with Akhil Katyal of a digital anthology of South Asian queer poetry.


Vikram Seth

Author of A Suitable Boy and  Mappings, a poetry collection, Seth is possibly one of the most well-known Indian writers of the English language. He is the author of 3 novels, 8 poetry collections and 1 childrens’ fiction book. In 2007, Seth became one of the voices against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. His mother, Leila Seth also refers to his sexuality in her memoir. In 2017, Seth was awarded the Makwan Prize for his queer activism.


Suniti Namjoshi

Born in 1941, Namjoshi is a poet and fabulist. She is best known for her book  Feminist Fables. Her main influences are Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich and Kate Millett. She was also an activist for queer rights. Her work explores her lesbian identity and its definitions in a heteronormative world.


Saleem Kidwai

Kidwai is a medieval historian, queer rights activist and a translator. He taught history at Ramjas College, University of Delhi till 1993. He was one of India’s first academics to come out as queer. His work focuses on Urdu literature, the history of desire and courtesan culture. He is the co-editor of the book Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History along with scholar Ruth Vanita.


Shyam Selvadurai

His name might ring familiar to the English hons students, Selvadurai is the critically-acclaimed author of Funny Boy, a story set in Sri Lanka, building up to the 1983 rights. Selvadurai also released an essay in 1997 titled Coming Out which spoke about the bias and discomfort him and his partner faced in Sri Lanka. He released his fourth novel in 2013, he also has a spider named after him.


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Jaishree Kumar

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As we celebrate the 126th birth anniversary of this author of masterpieces like The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, we try to locate what makes his books work their magic on the audience, never once being out of print even after decades of their publication, and making W. H. Auden call them the best children’s books of the century.

3rd January was the birthday of “The Professor”. Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien was born in Orange Free State in South Africa. He lived in the United Kingdom for the better part of his life and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1972, a year before his death in 1973.

In the 19th century, when the world of that time understood and consumed high fantasy only on the scales of the light-hearted, childish, and hence nonsensical Alice in Wonderland books, J.R.R. Tolkien defined on his own terms the pre-understood scope, characterisation, and treatment of the genre, once again posing the question like Homer did with The Iliad that how could the very first book be the greatest ever written since.

The Hobbit came in the fall of 1937. Here, Tolkien defined both time and space on his own terms setting the plot in the times between “The Dawn of the Farie and the dominion of Men”. The novel follows the exploits of Bilbo Baggins and his thirteen dwarf companions as they set themselves on the herculean pursuit of the Lonely Mountain. The sheer volume of the text is terrifying to anyone who tries to see the novel through the lens of a children’s novel. The gravity of the conception of an entire world of multifarious characters and their complex politics is staggering. The tale is thrilling, power-packed with suspense, and glorious accounts of the glorious events. The audience begins like Bilbo Baggins — naïve, innocent, and loving the comfort of a warm home — and finds itself maturing in the buildup of the war, confronting the detrimental questions of right and wrong and finally achieving heroic glory. The follow-up trilogy, The Lord of the Rings and the posthumous novel, The Silmarillion, only further enhanced the unique magic of The Hobbit. The author’s ability to make the audience believe in a world of his own creation, which have their every last detail immaculately curated and the creatures unprecedented yet human — their adventures are of the same elements that dreams are made of.

J.R.R. Tolkien was one of the many authors who was influenced by the events of the war and wrote about it. But as others found solace in crude realism, Tolkien took to romantic high fantasy to create a modern mythology. Moreover, he went on to furnish realism to the fantasy. It is almost as if he toured with Bilbo and later with Frodo and wrote for us what he saw and conversed. And yes, he made us believe that all those who wander are not lost.
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Nikhil Kumar
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