Hello everyone! As the year is quietly slipping away, I wanted to go ahead and let you know about the 2011 South Asian Challenge. For those of you who participated in 2010, I hope you will agree with the changes I’ve made and sign up again. For those of you who didn’t participate, I hope you will want to learn more about South Asia through this challenge! And for those of you who don’t have a blog and have no idea what a reading challenge even is? It’s simple: I challenge you to read books about South Asia and by South Asian authors during the calendar year of 2011. Read on for more information.
What books are eligible for the 2011 South Asian Challenge?
There are two ways for a book to qualify for the South Asian Challenge
(1) A book must be by a South Asian author. For these purposes, South Asia includes the following countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives. There are no limitations on what the book can be about. Some examples:
- Secret Daughter – Shilpi Somaya Gowda
- Watermark – Vanitha Sankaran
- Modern Spice – Monica Bhide
- In Other Rooms, Other Wonders – Daniyal Mueenuddin
- The Emperor of All Maladies – Siddhartha Mukherjee (review posting on 11/17)
(2) A book must be about South Asia. In this case, it can be set in a South Asian country or be about South Asians living abroad. It can also be a biography or memoir of a South Asian, or of a non-South Asian traveling or working in South Asia. In this case, the author does not need to be South Asian, as long as the subject matter focuses on the region, peoples, or cultures in some way. Some examples:
- The Blue Notebook – James Levine
- In the Land of No Right Angles – Daphne Beal
- Dreaming in Hindi – Katherine Russell Rich
- The Case of the Missing Servant – Tarquin Hall
- The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 – William Dalrymple
Any type book qualifies, as long as it meets one of the two guidelines above – a cookbook, short story or essay collection, travel guide – I’m not picky!
Do I need a blog to participate?
No! Everyone is encouraged to participate. There will be instructions on how to participate on each related post if you don’t have a blog.
Do we have to write reviews of what we read for the challenge?
No, though I’d love it if you did. The South Asian Review Database is my attempt to collect reviews of South Asian authors from across the web – I’d love new reviews for it!
I’m not sure whether this book qualifies or not. How can I tell?
If you can make a case for it, then it qualifies. There are some situations that are difficult though. For example, Michael Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka, but isn’t ethnically Sri Lankan and doesn’t write about the region. Does he qualify? I wouldn’t count him, but if you want to, that’s fine. This challenge isn’t meant to be strict or difficult; it’s meant to broaden your reading worldview!
Additionally, sometimes it is difficult to tell whether an author is from a South Asian country because that information isn’t publicly available. In this case, I go on instinct – if their name sounds pretty South Asian, I’d count it.
If only part of a book is about South Asia (for example, Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi), it still qualifies.
How do I participate?
On December 1, 2010, I will put up a post instructing people on how to sign up for the challenge. You will indicate your level goal when you sign up. I will also introduce the buttons for the challenge at that time.
EDIT: You can sign up here.
What dates does the challenge run?
January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2011
What are the levels?
South Asian Encounter – 1 book
South Asian Wanderer – 3 books
South Asian Explorer – 5 books
South Asian Adventurer – 7 books
South Asian Hero/Heroine – 10 books
South Asian Guru – Over 10 books (you can set your own goal)
Where can I find books by South Asian authors and about South Asia?
I thought you said movies were going to be part of the challenge. What happened?
I did want to expand the scope of the challenge, and movies seemed like a good way to do that. However, I realized that I really am passionate about people reading books rather than watching movies, so I decided to expand the challenge in another way, through the lifting of the restriction that books must be set in South Asia or be about South Asians.
If you have a question that isn’t covered, feel free to leave it in the comments!