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The Literary Mentorship

South Asia Speaks is a free literary mentorship for emerging writers living in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives.

During a year-long South Asia Speaks program, fellows work with one of our acclaimed mentors on a major  project such as a novel,  a translation, a collection of poetry or a series of reported pieces. Mentors review writing, address concerns and help problem solve. There is no age restriction and the program is completely free. The mentors are volunteering their time to nurture and build the writing community in South Asia. 


South Asia Speaks graduates have achieved book deals, agency representation and award wins. They have gone on to The Iowa Writers' Workshop, Logan Nonfiction Program, International Women's Media Foundation and The American Literary Translators Association's Emerging Translator Mentorship Program.

The application is very competitive. In our first year we received more than 500 applications for twenty 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 relationship between mentors and fellows is built on a mutual commitment to the craft of writing. Our fellows come from diverse backgrounds and pursue professions that range from filmmaking to engineering, but they are all determined to make the most of this unique opportunity.


Applications for the 4th edition of South Asia Speaks open in September 2023









This is why we do what we do

"Thanks to South Asia Speaks, I had the honour of working with the novelist Karan Mahajan on a collection of stories set in Kashmir. Karan read my work closely, offered carefully considered feedback and helped elevate my writing to a new level. He constantly pushed me to be my best. He was generous with his praise — something I would draw confidence from whenever going got tough. 

Honestly, South Asia Speaks has been the best thing to have happened to my writing so far. I hope to pay forward what Sonia and Karan have done for me soon one day."

Waseem Rashid (Class of 2021, Fiction)
Winner of the 2022 Sonny Mehta Fellowship in Creative Writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop

Mentored by Karan Mahajan

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