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The Literary Mentorship

South Asia Speaks is a non-profit foundation that offers literary mentorship to outstanding emerging writers living in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives.

Our goal is to cultivate excellence, dismantle the biases that exist in the publishing industry, and build a critical mass of literary voices that represent South Asia.


We are grateful to the Hawthornden Foundation for supporting our work

We match South Asia-based writers who have applied for support to produce a major work with published authors from around the world. We support fiction, nonfiction, reportage, translation and poetry. In 2023, we introduced "Beyond Ability" for writers who identify as a person with a disability.


Since 2020, South Asia Speaks fellows have published six books with major publishing houses. They have gone on to The Iowa Writers' Workshop and Logan Nonfiction Program, and won awards from The New India FoundationInternational Women's Media Foundation, Elizabeth George Foundation, English PEN, and The American Literary Translators Association's Emerging Translator Mentorship Program.

The application is very competitive. Every year we receive hundreds of applications for less than fellowships. Our ideal fellow is talented and driven with a track record of finishing a project. Since we are assembling a class, we are looking for fellows who will contribute to a collegial atmosphere and support one another. 

The diversity of our fellows is reflected in the books they are working on, many of which are only published because of the support and visibility of our program. Topics include Muslim life in India, the Ahmadi community in Pakistan, a Dalit protest, and the Tibetan Diaspora. 

New India Foundation logo

Beyond Ability is a mentorship for disabled writers. The disability can be locomotor, visual, hearing, psychosocial or neurological in nature. Writers with learning disabilities are welcome as are writers with chronic illnesses and rare diseases that might not fall under the purview of 'disability' in their respective countries. Disabled writers who come from the intersections of marginalized caste, class. and gender identities are encouraged to apply. The mentorship will be conducted online and applicants are requested to mention any specific accommodations that they might require.

Applications for the 5th edition of South Asia Speaks open in September 2024









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