Section 377 Is Out! Here's Your Desi Queer Reading List

Wondering what to read post the Supreme Court of India's judgement to decriminalise same-sex relationships? Looking for desi authors and books set in the Indian subcontinent?

We've got your back! Here's your desi queer reading list. 

(Note: This list is a work-in-progress, we'll add more titles as we read and discover them.)


A Mirrored Life: The Rumi Novel by Rabisankar Bal (Translated by Arunava Sinha)

Stories of the poet Rumi — his life and times, poetry, and relationships — as told by Ibn Battuta, himself a character in this novel, who finds himself in possession of a manuscript on the legendary dervish. For those looking to read about Rumi and Shams, this is a book for you, as is Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love.

Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar (Translated by Jerry Pinto)

A paying guest arrives at the Joshi residence, overturning the lives of the Joshi siblings, Tanay and Anuja. Cobalt Blue is about love and pain, and how the two go hand-in-hand.

Jamali-Kamali: A Tale of Passion in Mughal India by Karen Chase

A short tale of the 16th century Sufi court poet, Jamali and his mysterious lover, Kamali, both of whom are buried near the Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road in Delhi. The tale has been constructed out of oral traditions and legends about the lovers.

The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth

A novel written in sonnets, Vikram Seth's debut work is set in San Francisco and involves a host of characters in search of the meaning of life and love.


The Doubleness of Sexuality: Idioms of Same-Sex Desire in Modern India by Akhil Katyal

Akhil Katyal is best known for his poetry but his thesis-turned-non-fiction title The Doubleness of Sexuality is a great pick if you enjoy your academic reading. In this book, Katyal provides a historical exploration of the term ‘homosexual’ as it was/is used in colonial and post-colonial India. The central argument is that sexual identities in theory and practice do not always coincide.

Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India by Madhavi Menon

A recently released titled, Menon's work navigates centuries, geographies, personal and public histories, schools of philosophy, literary and cinematic works, as she examines the many—and often surprising—faces of desire in the Indian subcontinent. 


Close, Too Close : The Tranquebar Book of Queer Erotica (Edited by Meenu and Shruti)

Published in 2012, this South-Asian anthology offers more than sex. In fourteen queer erotic tales, written by the likes of Devdutt Pattanaik and Abeer Hoque, it presents the different realities where queer and straight worlds meet. Read our review of the book here.

Yaraana: Gay Writing From South Asia (Edited by Hoshang Merchant)

From Ashok Row Kavi's autobiographical piece on growing up in Bombay to Vikram Seth's account of a controversial relationship in The Golden Gate, the stories, poems, plays, and prose extracts in this collection cover a range of literary styles and themes.

Facing the Mirror: Lesbian Writing from India (Edited by Ashwini Sukthankar)

This collection brings together the richness and diversity of lesbian experience in India, through fiction and poetry, essays and personal history. It was published back in 1999.

Out! Stories from the New Queer India (Edited by Minal Hajratwala)

This collection offers a glimpse beyond the closet—and into the lives and dreams of India’s most misunderstood 'minority'.

Think we have missed some amazing desi queer reads? Tell us in the comments.

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