An Introduction To Diaspora Literature And Authors!

“Sometimes we feel we straddle two cultures; at other times, that we fall between two stalls.”
– Salman Rushdie

It was a 9 A.M. lecture by Mrs. Chandra Chatterjee (one of the seniormost professors at my college back in 2016) and we were to discuss V.S Naipaul’s essay, ‘East Indian’ when ma’am used the term ‘Diaspora’ and I asked her to shed some light on it and she said: “Diaspora in simpler terms means anyone living away from their native country, just like Naipaul himself is.” And, there it was! I researched the term to know more and understand it as a whole. I was quite fascinated with it and I still am! So, I will tell you what Diaspora means from my understanding and why I am interested in the literature of Diaspora.

What Is Diaspora?

The word ‘Diaspora’ comes from a Greek term which means ‘dispersion’. In the sixth century B.C, it was used to refer to the status of Jews in Babylonian captivity. Post that it was used to refer to the involuntary mass dispersion of a population from its indigenous or native land, in special reference to Jews. However, more recently it has been used to refer to any person who is settled in a place different from their original homeland. So, Diaspora Authors are those who live away from their native country but their works are associated with their land and culture. And, Diaspora Literature is a very vast concept and in fact, an umbrella term to refer to the works by these authors.

Some Diaspora Literature Recommendations

As I have already said that I have been fascinated with Diaspora Literature, I have read quite a bit and am hosting a readathon on my Instagram account millennial_reader where we plan on reading Diaspora Authors for two months. We have a few prompts planned and I will suggest you books as per the same. You can check them out!

I. An Award-Winning Book By A Diaspora Author

Award Winning D Books
  1. The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri
  2. Half Of A Yellow Sun By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  3. The Shadow Lines By Amitav Ghosh
  4. A House For Mr. Biswas By V.S. Naipaul

II. A Memoir Or Autobiography By A Diaspora Author

  1. Good Talk By Mira Jacob
  2. Boyhood By J.M. Coetzee
  3. No Land’s Man By Aasif Mandvi
  4. Unbecoming By Anuradha Bhagwati

III. Books Written By Or Based On Someone From LGBTQ+ Community By A Diaspora Author

Books On/By LGBTQ D Authors
  1. Funny Boy By Shyam Selvadurai
  2. Babyji By Abha Dawesar
  3. The Paths Of Marriage By Mala Kumar
  4. The Carpet Weaver By Nemat Sadat

IV. A Book With ‘East’ Or ‘West’ In The Title By A Diaspora Author

  1. Exit West By Mohsin Hamid
  2. All Quiet On The Western Front By Erich Maria Remarque
  3. East, West By Salman Rushdie
  4. One Half From The East By Nadia Hashimi

V. A Book By A South Asian Diaspora Author

Books By SA D Authors
  1. The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini
  2. The Palace Of Illusions By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  3. The Reluctant Fundamentalist By Mohsin Hamid
  4. The Lowland By Jhumpa Lahiri

VI. An Anthology Of Short Stories By A Diaspora Author

  1. Interpreter Of Maladies By Jhumpa Lahiri
  2. East, West By Salman Rushdie
  3. Arranged Marriage By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  4. In The Country By Mia Alvar

VII. An Anthology Of Poetry By A Diaspora Author

Poetry By D Author
  1. The Country Without A Post Office By Agha Shahid Ali
  2. Oceanic By Aimee Nezhukumatathil
  3. Registers of Illuminated Villages By Tarifa Faizullah
  4. Firesmoke By Sheniz Janmohamed

VIII. A Non Fiction By A Diaspora Author

  1. The Clothing Of Books By Jhumpa Lahiri
  2. Offence: The Muslim Caste By Kamila Shamsie
  3. The Return By Hisham Matar
  4. The Jaguar Smile By Salman Rushdie

IX. A YA/Mythological Fiction Historical Fiction/Romance Written By A Diaspora Author

  1. The Forest Of Enchantments By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  2. And The Mountains Echoed By Khaled Hosseini
  3. The Stationery Shop Of Tehran By Marjan Kamali
  4. Kartography By Kamila Shamsie

X. A Woman Centric Book By A Diaspora Author

  1. Desirable Daughters By Bharati Mukherjee
  2. The Palace Of Illusions By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  3. Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows By Balli Jaswal
  4. A Daughter’s Courage By Renita D’Silva

XI. A Book Written By A Middle Eastern Diaspora Author

Midlle Eastern D Author
  1. The Map Of Salt And Stars By Zeyn Joukhadar
  2. The Loved Ones By Alia Mamdouh
  3. Persepolis By Marjane Satrapi
  4. Fractured Destinies By Rabai Al-Mahdoun

XII. A Book Written By An East Asian Diaspora Author

  1. Pachinko By Min Jin Lee
  2. How We Disappeared By Jing Jing Lee
  3. Crazy Rich Asians By Kevin Kwan
  4. Night Sky With Exit Wounds By Ocean Woung

XIII. A Translated Novel Or Anthology By A Diaspora Author

Translated Novel By D Author
  1. Chronicle Of A Death Foretold By Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  2. The Swallows Of Kabul By Yasmina Khadra
  3. The Baghdad Clock By Shahad Al Rawi
  4. Tokyo Ueno Station By Yu Miri

XIV. A Book Written By An African Diaspora Author

  1. Americanah By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. Homegoing By Yaa Gyasi
  3. Open City By Teju Cole
  4. An Orchestra Of Minorities By Chigozie Obioma

On this note, I would like to end an introduction to Diaspora Literature and Authors. I hope I answered all your questions and clarified the doubts you had in your mind regarding literature and authors of Diaspora. If you want to know more and read some great Diaspora literature you can join us for the readathon which will go on from 1st July 2020 to 1st September 2020. Hope to see you there!

4 thoughts on “An Introduction To Diaspora Literature And Authors!

  1. This was really interesting to read! I only recently had a seminar on representations of migration across media where we read Exit West and discussed it in context of diaspora literature. Though I haven’t read any other of the books on your list, I’ve heard of most authors or read other books by them. I think a lot of these authors deserve more attention πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you so much! I am glad you liked it! 🌻 And I read Exit West a long time back. It is a good book when talked about in terms of migration. I’ll be looking forward to know what you think of the other books on the list. πŸ’›


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