#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss: Biculturalism in YA books – Middle Eastern Indian

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Hey! My name is Fariha, when I first heard about Fadwa hosting #DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss I quickly jumped to the opportunity. While I had initially thought of the topic revolving around how much there is a lack of biculturalism in literature. I quickly narrowed it down to what I know best: Identifying as a Middle Eastern Indian and my (our) representation in young adult books. While the term may be misleading, I’m ethnically Indian and I’m also the second generation to be born and raised in Saudi Arabia.  

I started reading from a very young-age, but almost all my books were centered around white-dominated characters and regions. Throughout growing up while reading fantasy books, there were several Indian- or Arabian- inspired books, but most of them fell short as soon as I noticed typical stereotypes from my both cultural identities. 

It wasn’t until much later when I started writing out of hobby that my characters were also predominantly of white-background, since that’s what I had read throughout childhood. I realized that’s not who I am. Where are books which represent me and not just something written based on stereotypes or third-hand experiences?

This gap in literature is much bigger. It’s not only limited to potential bicultural authors who think their ‘English’ isn’t good enough, or who would want to read my experience, but also the publishing industry who are not focused to unique books and often opt for white books by white authors since those ‘sell’ more. 

In my two years of book blogging, I’ve noticed the shift to having more inclusive books, such as WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsah Faizal and THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME by Nafiza Azad (which by the way I’m SO hyped for both these releases) hit the shelves. Another series that I absolutely adore is AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir. I’m also looking forward to reading FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE by Sandhya Menon and LOVE FROM A TO Z by S.K. Ali.

However, there is still a long way to go for bicultural inclusivity. The best thing me and others like me can do is to pursue writing and make publishers want to publish your books, so future kids don’t feel left-out and can find at-least one book out there which they can relate with. 

Thank you for reading and thanks a ton to Fadwa for providing me this opportunity to guest post on her blog! If you have bicultural book recs that you would like to share, do let me know!


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Book Blogger @ Fariha’s Studio

20-something business-geek, cat-lady, fantasy book blogger and a self-published author. Complains about not having enough time to blog or write, due to having a huge TBR-pile and many cats. She can be found on her blog, twitter and Instagram. Her poetry book can be found here.

Notable posts:

#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss is a way to boost diverse bloggers who are brilliant, have a lot to say and deserve to be heard loud and clear. What this is, is basically a guest post feature where every Sunday, one blogger from a minority will discuss things they are passionate about on my blog. 

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2 thoughts on “#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss: Biculturalism in YA books – Middle Eastern Indian

  1. Pingback: Favorite Posts 012 – Sometimes Leelynn Reads
  2. I am SO GLAD and SO SO SHRIEK-Y HAPPY that these books exist!!! I cannot imagine how nice it would have been to grow up seeing my name in all sorts of places, not relegated to the “exotic” stories. And to see my name in print as a character’s name without the accompanying eyeroll I get in real life when I tell people how to pronounce it correctly…well, that would be even better. I am so glad you are having this experience too! PS I am in the process of writing a book with characters who have names and stories like ours – do you have any good suggestions on resources/websites to use for cultural inspiration?

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