South Asian Heritage Month aims to amplify and celebrate British South Asian heritage and history across the United Kingdom through education, arts, culture and commemoration, helping people better understand the diversity of present day Britain and improve social cohesion across the country.
The month begins on 18 July, the date that the Indian Independence Act 1947 gained royal assent from King George VI, and ends on the 17 August, the date that the Radcliffe Line was published in 1947, which finally set out where the border between India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) would be.
South Asia is made up of eight countries: Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Bhutan; India; The Maldives; Nepal; Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
This year's theme is Journeys Of Empire which encompasses many different aspects of South Asian identity, not only in Britain, but other communities across the diaspora that were and continue to be influenced by the journeys of empire.
We're so excited to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month, and the eight countries that make up South Asia. Take a look at our booklist below and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we will be sharing more book, TV, film and resources throughout the month!
Stories for South Asian Super Girls by Raj Kaur Khaira
Through the fascinating stories of 50 women from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, South Asian girls will have a chance to dream about lives for themselves that radically differ from the limited narratives written for them by their culture, wider society and the media.
Would I Lie To You? by Aliya Ali-Afzal
At the school gates, Faiza fits in. It took a few years, but now the snobbish mothers who mistook her for the nanny treat her as one of their own. You'd never guess, at the glamorous kids' parties and the leisurely coffee mornings, that Faiza's childhood was spent following her parents round the Tooting Cash 'n' Carry. When her husband Tom loses his job in finance, he stays calm. Something will come along, and in the meantime, they can live off their savings. But Faiza starts to unravel. Raising the perfect family comes at a cost - and the money Tom put aside has gone. When Tom's redundancy package ends, Faiza will have to tell him she's spent it all. Unless she doesn't. It only takes a second to lie to Tom. Now Faiza has 6 weeks to find £75,000 before her lie spirals out of control. If anyone can do it, Faiza can: she's had to fight for what she has, and she'll fight to keep it.
The Khan by Saima Mir
Be twice as good as men and four times as good as white men. Jia Khan has always lived like this. A successful lawyer, her London life is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she knew as a child, where her father headed up the Pakistani community and ran the local organised crime syndicate. Often his Jirga rule - the old way - was violent and bloody, but it was always justice of a kind. But now her father, Akbar Khan, has been murdered and Jia must return to take his place. In the past, the police relied on him to maintain the fragile order of the streets. But a power struggle has broken out amongst the various communities and now, nobody is safe. Justice needs to be restored, and Jia is about to discover that justice always comes at a price.
Kololo Hill by Neema Shah
Uganda 1972. A devastating decree is issued: all Ugandan Asians must leave the country in 90 days. They must take only what they can carry, give up their money and never return. For Asha and Pran, married a matter of months, it means abandoning the family business that Pran has worked so hard to save. For his mother, Jaya, it means saying goodbye to the house that has been her home for decades. But violence is escalating in Kampala, and people are disappearing. Will they all make it to safety in Britain and will they be given refuge if they do? And all the while, a terrible secret about the expulsion hangs over them, threatening to tear the family apart.
The Blood Divide by A. A. Dhand
The last thing Jack Baxi expected when a detective rang his doorbell in the middle of the night was that he'd be tortured and left for dead, with a young woman he's never met before. Now, running for their lives, Jack and Aisha frantically try to discover why the detective was so convinced they both have information on a missing person. Jack is a Sikh corner shopkeeper with a criminal record. Aisha is a Muslim medical student from a wealthy family. What could possibly connect them? Their desperate hunt for answers will take them on a perilous journey, from the sprawling underground markets and dangerous red-light district of Delhi all the way to the most militarized zone in India. But little do they know, a dangerous organisation is watching their every move - and they'll do whatever it takes to stop Jack and Aisha learning the truth.
The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain
Amjad never imagined he'd be a single father. But, when tragedy strikes, he must step up for his two children - while his world falls apart. Saahil dreams of providing for his dad and little sister. But his life is about to take an unexpected turn. The baby of the family, Zahra, is shielded from the worst the world has to offer. But, as she grows up, she wonders if she can rely on anyone but herself. There's no such thing as an easy journey. But when life sends the family in different directions, will they take their own paths - or find their way back to each other?
The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
‘The Buddha of Suburbia', Hanif Kureishi's first novel, is a tour de force of comic invention, a bizarre, often hilarious, and totally original picture of the life of a young Pakistani growing up in 1970s Britain.
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
In this tale of two Muslim sisters Monica Ali explores how they live out their own personal tragedies. One lives in a tower block in London's East End whilst the other lives in a Bangladeshi village.
Partition Voices by Kavita Puri
Dotted across homes in Britain are people who were witnesses to one of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. Yet their memory of India's Partition has been shrouded in silence. Kavita Puri's father was twelve when he found himself one of the millions of Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims caught up in the devastating aftermath of a hastily drawn border. He remained silent - like so many - about the horrors he had seen for seventy years. When her father finally spoke out, opening up a forgotten part of Puri's family history, she was compelled to seek out the stories of South Asians who were once subjects of the British Raj, and are now British citizens. Determined to preserve these accounts - of the end of empire and the difficult birth of two nations - Puri records these first-hand testimonies, as well as those of their children and grandchildren whose lives are shaped by Partition's legacy.
The Boy with the Topknot by Sathnam Sanghera
This is a hilarious and heart-rending reinvention of the modern British memoir. For Sathnam Sanghera, growing up in Wolverhampton in the eighties was a confusing business. On the one hand, these were the heady days of George Michael mix-tapes, Dallas on TV and, if he was lucky, the occasional Bounty Bar. On the other, there was his wardrobe of tartan smocks, his 30p-an-hour job at the local sewing factory and the ongoing challenge of how to tie the perfect top-knot. And then there was his family, whose strange and often difficult behaviour he took for granted until, at the age of twenty-four, Sathnam made a discovery that changed everything he ever thought he knew about them. Equipped with breathtaking courage and a glorious sense of humour, he embarks on a journey into their extraordinary past trying to make sense of a life lived among secrets.
Asha & The Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan
Asha lives in the foothills of the Himalayas. Money is tight and she misses her papa who works in the city. When he suddenly stops sending his wages, a ruthless moneylender ransacks their home and her mother talks of leaving.
From her den in the mango tree, Asha makes a pact with her best friend, Jeevan, to find her father and make things right. But the journey is dangerous: they must cross the world's highest mountains and face hunger, tiredness - even snow leopards.
And yet, Asha has the unshakeable sense that the spirit bird of her grandmother - her nanijee - will be watching over her.
The Lost Homestead by Marina Wheeler
On 3 June 1947, as British India descended into chaos, its division into two states was announced. For months the violence and civil unrest escalated. With millions of others, Marina Wheeler's mother Dip Singh and her Sikh family were forced to flee their home in the Punjab, never to return. Through her mother's memories, accounts from her Indian family and her own research in both India and Pakistan, she explores how the peoples of these new nations struggled to recover and rebuild their lives. As an Anglo-Indian with roots in what is now Pakistan, Marina attempts to untangle some of these threads to make sense of her own mother's experience, while weaving her family's story into the broader, still highly contested, history of the region.
Shameful Flight by Stanley Wolpert
Focusing on the last half decade of the British in India, this book argues that the hasty departure of the British from the subcontinent laid the groundwork for the continuing violence between India and Pakistan. It tells about events that have been turning points in the history of India, Pakistan, and Britain.
That Asian Kid by Savita Kalhan
Despite his hard work and brains, Jeevan, is doing badly in his GCSE English literature class. His teacher, Mrs Greaves, dislikes him intensely and Jeevan is convinced that he is the victim of racial prejudice. Can he stand up for what's right? When he comes upon her in the woods outisde school in a compromising situation with another teacher, Jeevan can't help but film the scene on his phone. With this secret new ammunition at his fingertips - dare he upload it to social media?
Borrow That Asian Kid by Savita Kalhan
Looking After Planet Earth by Sona Sharma
Sona Sharma combats climate change. When Sona learns about the climate crisis at school and is very worried that no one is doing enough to combat it, she takes up the challenge herself. But Appa isn't amused when Sona throws out her baby sister's nappies and Thatha isn't happy when she tells him to get rid of his colour-coded plastic files. When Sona learns that many of the kolams - the traditional art that people draw in front of their homes to celebrate the winter months and the festival season - are not organic, she sets out to make some big changes by getting everyone involved.
Radha and Jai's Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma
Radha has lost her love of kathak dancing and is searching for a new passion. Jai is trying to figure out how to help his family and come to terms with sacrificing his dreams. Can the two create the perfect recipe for a happily ever after together?
Asian People Who Changed History by Adam Sutherland
This title looks at Asian people who have made a difference within their own country or in the wider world, whether they are rulers and leaders in their field or ordinary people whose actions and example changed the lives of others. Biographies of each individual detail their struggles and achievements, and look at the legacy each created.
The History of The Asian Community in Britain by Rozina Visram
Discover the fascinating history of the Asian community in Britain, from the first settlers to the 21st century. This new edition explores why people came to Britain, the problems they faced and the contributions these communities have made to British society. Brought to life with case studies and rarely published photographs, this is an opportunity to get up close to the experiences and vital impact Asian people have had in Britain. Meet pioneers such as Sake Dean Mahomed and Jayaben Desai and find out why the Asian community has been fundamental to Britain's success on the world stage.
Brown Girl Like Me by Jaspreet Kaur
Brown Girl Like Me is an inspiring memoir and empowering manifesto that equips women with the confidence and tools they need to navigate the difficulties that come with an intersectional identity. Jaspreet Kaur unpacks key issues such as the media, the workplace, the home, education, mental health, culture, confidence and the body, to help South Asian women understand and tackle the issues that affect them, and help them be in the driving seat of their own lives.
Jaspreet pulls no punches, tackling difficult topics from mental health and menstruation stigma to education and beauty standards, from feminism to cultural appropriation and microaggressions. She also addresses complex issues, such as how to manage being a brown feminist without rejecting your own culture, and why Asian girls – the second highest performing group of students in the country – aren't seen in larger numbers in universities and head offices.
Interviews with brilliant South Asian Women of all walks of life as well as academic insight show what life is really like for brown women in the diaspora. Part toolkit, part call-to-arms, Brown Girl Like Me is essential reading for South Asian women as well as people with an interest in feminism and cultural issues, and will educate, inspire and spark urgent conversations for change.
Take It Back by Kia Abdullah
Whose side would you take? Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister's wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe. Jodie’s own best friend doesn’t even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her. Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?
We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hatsa Zayyan
1960s UGANDA. Hasan struggles to keep his family business afloat following the sudden death of his wife. As he begins to put his shattered life back together piece by piece, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.
Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a heritage he never knew.
Moving between two continents over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is an immensely resonant novel that explores racial tensions, generational divides and what it means to belong.
It is the first work of fiction by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers' Prize, and one of the most exciting young novelists of today.