South Asia Speaks was created in 2021 by author Sonia Faleiro to give back to and to strengthen the writing community in South Asia. The program is completely free and entirely non-profit. Fellows are selected on the basis of talent, commitment to their work, and the acceleration they may achieve through access to the support of our mentors.
In its first year the program had twenty mentors, all well established figures in their field, and after receiving over five hundred applications offered mentorships to thirty-two people. Successful fellows developed their project with their mentor over the course of the year. The first year of South Asia Speaks has already resulted in several book contracts, numerous articles, and literary agency representation for our fellows, and has drawn fierce interest from the publishing community.
In its sophomore year, South Asia Speaks is expanding to twenty four mentors and in addition to our standard mentorships also commencing dedicated mentorships for special topics. The program is responding to the crisis in Afghanistan with a mentorship opportunity for an Afghan writer with acclaimed novelist Fatima Bhutto. Bhutto will also offer a mentorship focussed on a project dealing with climate change. Historian Aanchal Malhotra will offer a mentorship for a fellow working on a project related to the Partition of India, novelist Aruni Kashyap will work with a fellow from North-East India, and translator Arunava Sinha will mentor an early career translator working in any language.