12 Indian Americans in USA Today’s 40 AAPI authors bestseller list

Jhumpa Lahiri is among a dozen Indian American authors on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books list.

Kamala Harris to Jhumpa Lahiri among ‘the ever-expanding and evolving American literary canon.’ 

From Vice President Kamala Harris to Pulitzer Prize winning physician Siddhartha Mukherjee, a dozen Indian American authors have found a place among 40 Asian American Pacific Islander writers on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books list.

From memoirs and fiction to romances and humor, their works are as diverse and dynamic as the authors themselves, noted USA Today saying they “represent an important part of the ever-expanding and evolving American literary canon.”

Authors range from debut to stalwarts and write in a variety of genres, the publication noted hoping its list “leads readers to explore more of the wellspring of books and literature by Asian American and Pacific Islanders.”

Indian American writers on the list are: Kiran Desai, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Kamala Harris, Meena Harris, Mira Jacob, Mindy Kaling, Jhumpa Lahiri, Fatima Farheen Mirza, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Reshma Saujani and Thrity Umrigar.

Kiran Desai: The Indian-born author relocated to the US as a teen with her writer mother, Anita Desai. Her first novel, “Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard,” garnered good reviews but it was her second novel, The Booker Prize-winning “The Inheritance of Loss,” that made USA Today’s bestseller list.

Sanjay Gupta: The neurosurgeon, reporter and writer first hit the bestseller list in 2007 with his book “Chasing Life: New Discoveries in the Search for Immortality to Help You Age Less Today.” He returned in 2012 with novel “Monday Mornings” and in 2021 with “Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age.”

Kamala Harris: The vice president makes the bestselling list with two books. The first, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” explores her life as the daughter of immigrants. Her parents emigrated from India and Jamaica and raised Harris and her sister Maya in California. Her second bestseller, “Superheroes Are Everywhere,” is a children’s book that tells kids heroes can be found anywhere and they too can be one.

Read: Kamala Harris dials Modi to assure India of vaccine supplies (June 4, 2021)

Meena Harris: A lawyer, entrepreneur and author, Harris is also the niece of Kamala Harris. She made the list with two children’s books: “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea,” inspired by a true story of sisters Kamala and Maya Harris as children working with their community to effect change; and “Ambitious Girl,” about a young girl who sees the challenges faced by women when she sees a strong woman labeled as “too assertive” and “too ambitious.”

Mira Jacob: The author’s debut novel, “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing,” which follows the Eapen family’s journey from India in the 1970s to new lives in America in the 1990s, made the list back in 2016.

Jacob’s latest book is the memoir “Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations,” which was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and, according to the author’s website, is currently in development as a TV series.

Mindy Kaling: The actress, humorist and writer wrote two bestselling collections of essays: “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” and “Why Not Me?” Both books include her observations on life, romance, friendship and Hollywood.

Read: Mindy Kaling’s ‘Never Have I Ever’ wins People’s Choice Award (November 19, 2020)

Jhumpa Lahiri: The daughter of Indian immigrants who emigrated to the UK, Lahiri moved to the US with her family when she was 3 and was raised in Rhode Island.

Most of Lahiri’s notable works have been USA Today bestsellers, beginning with her Pulitzer Prize-winning debut collection of short stories, “Interpreter of Maladies.”

Other bestsellers include “The Namesake,” “Unaccustomed Earth,” “The Lowland” and this year’s “Whereabouts,” an English translation of a story she originally wrote and published in Italian.

Read: Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘In Other Words’ is a hauntingly tender, beautiful read (February 24, 2016)

Fatima Farheen Mirza: The author’s debut novel, “A Place for Us,”  hit the bestseller list in 2018. It follows the story of an Indian Muslim family in California on the eve of their eldest daughter’s wedding.

The novel was also the inaugural novel in Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint SJP for Hogarth. In an interview on the “Today” show, Mirza shared that “growing up I never saw a life like mine reflected in fiction and so to me to write this novel was a way to honor the place that I’d come from.”

Siddhartha Mukherjee: The Indian American physician, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia and a cancer researcher, won the Pulitzer Prize for his bestselling nonfiction work, 2010’s “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.”

Read: Indian Americans Paul Kalanithi, Siddhartha Mukherjee on Wellcome Book Prize shortlist (March 15, 2017)

It was later made into a documentary of the same name by Ken Burns. He followed “Emperor” with another USA Today bestseller, 2016’s “The Gene: An Intimate History.”

Read: From heroin to India’s first heroine: Indian American author Sini Panicker speaks about her debut novel (March 10, 2021)

Aimee Nezhukumatathil: The daughter of a Filipina mother and South Indian father, the prize-winning poet and Guggenheim fellow published her nonfiction debut “World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks and Other Astonishment” in 2020.

The collection of essays about the natural world was a Kirkus Prize finalist and named 2020’s Barnes & Noble’s book of the year.

Reshma Saujani: An attorney, activist and founder/CEO of Girls Who Code, Saujani published “Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder,” which landed on the bestsellers list in 2019.

An extension of her 2016 Ted Talk, Saujani’s “Brave, Not Perfect” message is also the subject of an online community and podcast.

Read: Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani to headline Pratham DC gala (July 25, 2018)

Thrity Umrigar: The author’s “The Space Between Us” was released in 2006 and hit our list in 2018.

In the novel, which was a finalist for a PEN/Beyond Margins Award, two women discover an emotional rapport as they struggle against the confines of a rigid caste system in modern-day India. Her next novel, “Honor,” is set for publication in 2022.

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