Arslan Athar is a fiction writer and the founder of The Desi Collective, a quarterly magazine of writing. He is working with mentor Fatima Bhutto on a novel, 40 Days of Mourning. He lives in Lahore, Pakistan.
"South Asia Speaks has been a massively transformative experience for me as a writer. My mentor, Fatima Bhutto, gave me so much of her valuable time and truly spent her energy on my story and my journey as a writer. The skills I have picked up on this past year are fantastic and I am pumped to continue writing with these new tools under my belt. When I joined this program, I thought solely in the mode of short story writing, but now I am able to think of the novel, and write with that guiding light too! Moreover, I have also gotten to connect with other creatives and writers like myself, and I truly truly cherish these connections. It makes my writing team feel less alone."
Sarbajaya Bhattacharya is a Ph.D fellow at the Department of English, Jadavpur University. She works as a freelance translator for the People's Archive of Rural India and recently completed a certificate course on Translation as a Skill from Jadavpur University. She is working with mentor Arunava Sinha on a translation of Jaladhar Sen's Bengali travelogue Himalaya.
Class of 2022
Class of 2022
Meet the Class of 2021
Amruta Byatnal is an Associate Editor at Devex based in New Delhi, India. She reports on global health, gender and human rights. Previously, she worked for News Deeply and The Hindu. She is a graduate of Cornell University where she studied international development.
Amna Chaudhry is a writer, activist, and freelance journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is working with mentor Nikita Lalwani on a novel, Parlour Girls
"The South Asia Speaks fellowship allowed me to revise my novel, "Parlour Girls", under the mentorship of writer Nikita Lalwani. Over the course of the year, my mentor gave me invaluable feedback on my work and we discussed and went over my project in depth. Thanks to the fellowship, I am now completing a second draft of the novel and hope to start sending my work out to agents in the coming year."
Chandrima Das quit her career in strategy and social impact consulting to write fiction. Her first collection of short stories, Young Blood, will be published by Harper Collins India later this year. Chandrima is working with mentor Aruni Kashyap on a horror story set in Assam. She lives in Mumbai.
Nikhil Eapen is a journalist and a researcher at Equidem, a labour rights organisation. He is working with mentor Sanam Maher on how we garden wild spaces in the Indian subcontinent.
"South Asia Speaks has been an incredible platform to share my writing, and get feedback on how to improve. It's taught me practical things such as to trust the process, to not give up, to be unafraid of groping in the dark, to be patient and gritty. It's taught me technical things about telling a story, setting a scene, and building characters. The highlight for me though has been the opportunity to interact with Sanam Maher. She's inspiring, kind, and very insightful, and her guidance is helping me make tangible progress on my book. I am so excited for the 2022 class of South Asia Speaks."
Sonia do Rosario Gomes
Sonia do Rosario Gomes is a Portuguese and Spanish translator. Her hyperlocal blog is set in her village in Goa and written in English, Portuguese and Konkani.
Sonia is working with mentor Arunava Sinha on a translation of an article by Dr. Leopoldo da Rocha: Uma página inédita do Real Mosteiro de Santa Mónica de Goa (1730-1734) e achegas para a história do padre nativo/An unpublished episode from the Royal Monastery of Santa Mónica of Goa (1730-1734) and contributions towards the history of the native priest.
Photo: Sumit Roy
Nusrat F. Jafri
Nusrat F. Jafri is a cinematographer. Her latest film, Pilibhit, has been screened at the Indian Film Festival Stuttgart, The New York Indian Film Festival and the Sedona International Film Festival. She is working with mentor Aanchal Malhotra on a memoir.
Zeyad Masroor Khan
Zeyad Masroor Khan is a journalist based in New Delhi. He has worked with Reuters, Vice, and Brut and writes primarily on minority affairs, crime, politics and culture. Born in the old town of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, he aims to represent the aspirations of the young men and women of India's heartland. In his eight-year long career, Khan has written about satanist cults in Aligarh, alleged witches in Assam, gun smugglers in Bihar, the dating lives of Delhi’s urban poor, Istanbul’s Taksim Square protests and India’s presidential elections. He is working with mentor Isaac Chotiner on a memoir about growing up in riot-hit Aligarh.
"I found Isaac at one of the worst phases of my life. Apart from being the best writing mentor there could be, he quickly became a friend and a reluctant therapist who made me believe in myself. I think the best thing a mentor can do is to restore faith in you and your abilities, and that's what Isaac did with in-between his very busy schedule working at The New Yorker. Surprisingly for a man of his achievements, he had no airs, only empathy. In an age where giving offence is seen as a virtue, he was unusually sensitive. Isaac was the best mentor a struggling writer in Aligarh could have ever hoped for. I thank South Asia Speaks and Sonia for pairing me with this gem of a person."
Mohit Manohar is a PhD student in art history at Yale University. His short story Summertime received a PEN/Robert J. Dau Prize Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers and was republished in Best Debut Short Stories 2020. Another short story, This Has Not Been Enough, received the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. Mohit is working with mentor Mahesh Rao on his novel The Problem with English.
He lives in Patna.
Samia Mehraj was born in Sopore, a town in Kashmir's northern Baramulla district. She writes about Kashmiri and Muslim identity and likes to experiment with various forms, such as ethnographic prose-poetry, descriptive essays, and literary short-fiction. She is working with mentor Mirza Waheed on a book of short stories.
Monika Mondal is an independent journalist who writes about agriculture, sustainability and the environment. She is working with mentor Fatima Bhutto on a book about India's sugarcane farmers.
Disha Mullick is the CEO of Chambal media. The company's flagship project is Khabar Lahariya, India's only all-women rural news channel. Disha also trains disadvantaged women from remote villages to be professional journalists and produce local news in their languages. She has a master's degree in gender studies from the University of Warwick.
Disha is working with mentor Fatima Bhutto on a memoir.
Rabia Mushtaq is an independent journalist, researcher and development professional based in Pakistan. Her work has appeared in The Juggernaut, JFA: Justice For All, Dawn, The News on Sunday, and MAG The Weekly. She previously worked for the Coalition For Women In Journalism, the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, and the Jang Group of Companies. She is working with mentor Rahul Bhatia on a series of reported pieces about the impact of gang violence on the mental health of children in Karachi's Lyari neighbourhood.
Pallavi Narayan is a writer, editor, visual artist and PhD in Literature. In 2018, she was named the first Frankfurt Fellow from Singapore to the Frankfurter Buchmesse Fellowship Programme. In 2019, she was the sole scholar from an Asian university at the CHCI-Mellon Global Humanities Institute on Challenges of Translation at Universidad de Chile, and in 2020-21 she was a fellow of the CHCI-Global Global Humanities Institute at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. She is the co-editor of Singapore at Home: Life Across Lines (Kitaab, 2021). Her monograph Pamuk's Istanbul: The Self and the City is forthcoming from Routledge.
Pallavi is working with mentor Mira Kamdar on a book about private museums in India.
Rahee Punyashloka is a Dalit writer, visual artist, experimental filmmaker, and scholar from Bhubaneswar, Odisha. His work has been exhibited at the International Film Festival, Rotterdam, and the Tribeca Film Festival, New York.
His project is a novel, A Manual For Shapeshifting, and his mentor is Madhuri Vijay.
Ajay Patri is a writer and lawyer in Bangalore, India. His story, A Need for Shelter, is short-listed for the Bristol Short Story Prize. He is working with mentor Madhuri Vijay on a novel, A Golden Man.
Nazuk Iftikhar Rao
Nazuk Iftikhar Rao is a political development economist in Lahore, Pakistan. She is working with mentor Fatima Bhutto on a novel.
Tenzin Sangmo is a Tibetan reporter in Dharmashala, India, from where she comtributes to Voice of America. She is working with mentor McKenzie Funk on six feature stories in English for Phayul.com, a Tibetan news site in English.
C.G Salamander is a comic journalist and children's writer whose picture books have been published by Scholastic and Duckbill. He is working with mentor Altaf Tyrewala on a book of speculative/literary fiction called Goodbye Blue Monday. He lives in Bangalore.
Sonakshi Srivastava graduated from the University of Delhi. Her latest work is a translation of Harishankar Parsai's short story, The Pact, for the inaugural issue of Rhodora Magazine. She is working with mentor Arunava Sinha on a translation of Jaishankar Prasad’s Hindi novel Titlee.
Subi Taba is an Agriculture Officer in Arunachal Pradesh, India. She is working with mentor Aruni Kashyap on Tales from the Hinterlands, a collection of short stories set in her home state.
Waseem Rashid has a BS from studies in chemistry, zoology, and botany at Kashmir's Amar Singh College. He’s a teacher of math, and speaks English and Urdu, as well as Kashmiri. He is working on a novel set in Kashmir with his mentor Karan Mahajan.