South Asian woman in a green and yellow dress reading a book with legs crossed on a bench outside between two trees

Spotlight on South Asian Literature: Five Books by Indian Americans

In this blog, I wanted to highlight the voices of Indian Americans, a subgroup of Asian Americans that often gets overlooked. Although Indian Americans are often remembered as an afterthought when people think about the Asian American community, they are a sizable and growing part of the community. As of 2019, 4.6 million Indian Americans live in the United States, more than two times the population of 1.9 million in 2000. Indian Americans are an important part of the Asian American community and it’s past time that their literary contributions are recognized.

I have selected five works of fiction published by authors of Indian origin who grew up or are living in the US. I chose these titles with an eye towards covering a wide range of genres that were published relatively recently. These selections are not meant to be comprehensive and are shaped by my own subjective literary taste. I hope you will find something that piques your interest and give one of these titles a try!

1) The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara (2022)

Genre: Literary Fiction, Satire, Dystopian, Historical Fiction

Vara’s genre-bending debut is a sweeping epic told through three timelines in alternating chapters: the tale of a Dalit clan in early independent India, the success story of an immigrant in 1980s America, and a dystopian future with a corporatized government. The Immortal King Rao is an ambitious novel that explores many challenging questions that our technologically advanced society faces today while also weaving in themes of family lore and love. Vara resides in Colorado.

2) You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (2017)

Genre: Realistic Young Adult (YA)

This YA novel follows five women in the same Bengali family from the 1960s to the present day. The character-driven story is told in alternating teen voices across three generations and follows the struggles of these young women as they navigate the everyday struggles of race, identity, friendships, crushes, and relationships with each other. Perkins is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

3) Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel (2022)

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology

Kaikeyi is a retelling of the Ramayana , one of the great epic poems of India. Reviewers have compared Kaikeyi favorably to Madeline Miller’s Circe. Patel’s feminist retelling puts the traditionally reviled queen at the center and portrays her in a more compassionate light by articulating the pressures of manipulative gods and the patriarchal society she must have faced. Patel grew up in the Chicago area.

4) The Perfumist of Paris by Alka Joshi (2023)

Genre: Historical Fiction

While working for a master perfumer, Radha discovers that she has a rare talent of being able to detect each layer of scent in a perfume. However, Radha finds herself caught between her desire to work and her husband’s desire for her to stay at home with their daughters. When a dark secret comes to light, the life she has carefully built for herself threatens to fall apart. Joshi resides in Pacific Grove, California.

5) If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel (2018)

Genre: Literary Fiction, Short Stories

In this defiant collection of eleven short but meaty stories narrated by Indian Americans, Patel’s characters wrestle with relationships that fall apart from marriages to families to friendships. Patel’s compelling characters rebel against the familial expectations placed upon them, make the wrong decisions, and subvert readers’ expectations while resisting model minority stereotypes. Patel lives in Los Angeles.

Four Books By Latinx Authors You Need To Read

Here at Ooligan, we love to celebrate diverse authors and stories. As a Latinx reader, I enjoy reading novels that speak about my culture and celebrate the rich history of the island I grew up on. However, I also love reading stories from other Latinx cultures whose stories and experiences resonate with me. In this list, you will find a little bit of everything. We have put together a short list of books written by Latinx authors that you will surely enjoy!

The Storyteller’s Death by Ann Dávila Cardinal

First on our list is Ann Dávila Cardinal. Cardinal is known for celebrating her heritage through her writing in her novels. Her newest title, The Storyteller’s Death, follows the story of Isla as she discovers family secrets. Forced to spend her summers in Puerto Rico, Isla develops a strong bond with her great-grandmother. After her death, Isla discovers she has a magical gift passed down through her family. This incredible story incorporates beautiful storytelling with a hint of magic. The Storyteller’s Death is Cardinal’s first adult novel. If you are looking for a young adult novel, you can check out her other books like Breakup From Hell and Five Midnights.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Next up, we have Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. This story, told in the form of a poem, follows the lives of two sisters, Camino and Yahaira Rios, after the sudden death of their father. However, Camino and Yahaira were unaware of each other’s existence. They must work through their grief while coming to terms with their father’s double life. Acevedo’s writing is truly captivating. Other well-known books by Acevedo are The Poet X and With the Fire on High.

Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

This fantasy novel follows the story of Lana Torres who loves dragons and longs to play for the Puerto Rican team in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and humans come together to compete. This is such a fun, innovative, and action-packed read. I had never read a fantasy novel incorporating Puerto Rican characters and found this book to be a treat! I highly recommend it, and if you want to read more books by Ortiz, you can check out Dragonblood Ring and Last Sunrise in Eterna.

Our Shadows Have Claws: 15 Latin American Monster Stories

Last but not least, we have Our Shadows Have Claws: 15 Latin American Monster Stories, which is a collection of short stories written by many authors, two of whom, Amparo Ortiz and Ann Dávila Cardinal, have been featured on this list. This collection of Latinx horror stories is a great way to get insight into different cultures since many of these stories are inspired by specific lore. Some of my favorite stories include “The Boy From Hell” and “La Madrina.”

These are just a few fantastic Latinx authors I have recently enjoyed reading. I would have loved having more stories like Ortiz’s Blazewrath Games when I was growing up, but I am glad I have these stories now and that younger readers will have access to books like these.

Support diversity in publishing by reading Latinx authors. Feel free to let us know what authors you loved from this list and share other Latinx authors you love reading!

Cover of Lobizona

Where Are All My Latinxs At?

Image: Cover design of Lobizona by Kerri Resnick, featuring art by Daria Hlazatova

The fantasy genre, particularly young adult fantasy, is (slowly) becoming more diverse. Authors like Tomi Adeyemi, Sabaa Tahir, Tahereh Mafi, and Chole Gong have written well-received and very popular fantasy novels. Yet, there are almost no fantasy novels by Latinx authors or starring Latinx characters that have entered my radar or the radar of BookTok.

I don’t mean to discount the fantastic gains other marginalized authors have made in fantasy or literature as a whole, but Black, Asian, and other authors and characters of color still need more representation in the fantasy genre. But that got me thinking about the lack of Latinx representation in fantasy and why it has yet to gain that kind of momentum in recent literature.

So here are three reasons why Latinx characters are underrepresented in fantasy literature.

    Fantasy has a long history of racism.

Fantasy fiction as categorized in The Lord of the Rings routinely erases real-world people of color in favor of representing a variety of fantastical “races.” Good guys (elves, dwarves, hobbits) are described as white and the bad guys (orcs, goblins, dark elves) are described as dark-skinned, and unlike in the real world, it is based on biological differences. But this isn’t just in The Lord of the Rings. In A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, the good guys, Spring Court, were described as having pale skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes while the bad guys, Night Court, were described as dark-skinned. While people love to say fantasy doesn’t see racism, it does. The fantasy system created by the author represents the author’s outlook on life: who do they see as the top of the food chain, who are the bad guys, who gets to be the hero, and who gets to be the villain?

    What does it mean to be Latinx in a fantasy world?

Latin America is one of the most diverse places on the planet with its residents becoming united and divided by language, culture, and history, not by race. So if you want to include Latinx people in your fantasy novel, it would either need to be in your own world where you can set up your own races and the history behind them or in a world similar to our own where the knowledge is there for the reader. There lies the problem. It can become hard to create a world that represents Latin America since Latin America has a messy history and development, which makes the creation of a fantasy world a little more complicated. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, clearly. Fantasy authors have everlasting imagination, it’s in the job description, and it shouldn’t pose any roadblocks when it comes to creating Latinx characters.

    There just aren’t enough Latinx authors.

In 2022, Zippia stated that the most common ethnicity of authors is White (79.4 percent), followed by Latinx (7.2 percent), African American (5.8 percent), and Asian (4.0 percent). If Latinx authors, just like any author of color, don’t get a shot at telling stories about people like themselves and the history of their culture, then there aren’t going to be stories that represent Latinx people. With Latinx authors making up only 7.2 percent of the authors publishing in 2022 that means we, as diverse readers, have to make more of an effort to read books by authors of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ authors. If we want a change, we have to show the publishing industry that we do want to read and support these stories.

Here are some of my recommendations if you want to read some Latinx fantasy literature:

    Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
    Lobizona by Romina Garber
    Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez
    Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
A book with two pages curved up to form the shape of a heart

5 LGBTQ+ Romances by Oregon Authors to Read This Winter

There’s no better way to beat the dreary Oregon winter than to turn on the heat. A great way to do that is to add a little spice to your reading pile with a deeply engrossing romance. Here are a few LGBTQ+ romances to warm you from inside out, written by local Oregon authors who haven’t seen the sun this winter just as much as you, so they know how it feels.

Wolfsong by TJ Klune

Wolfsong is about Oxnard Matheson, a young man who lives in small-town Green Creek. One day he meets the Bennets, a strange and highly loving family that moves in next door. What he doesn’t know is that meeting them will take him on the journey of a lifetime––full of heartbreak, found family, werewolves, mates, and magic. This book brought me through all the stages of grief and my full range of emotions several times over. A mix of feisty romance, propulsive action, edge-of-your-seat thriller, and world-bending fantasy, this is a great starting point to begin your winter of heat. It’s a four book series, so it’ll keep you burning for a while.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Following the young brujo Yadriel, this story brings you on a journey into the spirit world where he finds, well, a ghost––but not the one he wanted. Cemetery Boys is a paranormal romance, a newer niche to the romance genre! As Yadriel tries to prove himself as a real brujo, he accidentally summons the ghost of the school bad boy, Julian. As Yadriel tries to help Julian back to the spirit world, he learns that maybe he doesn’t want Julian to leave at all. This story is vibrant, heartwarming, and heady-weightlessness inducing. It’ll calm you down from the raging fire the Green Creek series will set, but keep you toasty warm like a marshmallow in hot chocolate.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Another fantastic read by TJ Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea follows Linus Baker, a quiet man who investigates magical orphans. On a peculiar assignment, he finds himself at the Marsyas Island Orphanage, where he meets Arthur Parnassus. And it all goes downhill from there (in a good way). This book is positively delightful and wholesome in so many ways. Part quirky identity-finding story, part romance, it will warm you from the deepest parts of your heart that this winter season has frozen solid––all the way down to your toes.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

In this pandemic and this political climate, this book puts the icing on the cake. We Set the Dark on Fire follows Daniela Vargas as she goes through school as a wife-in-training––what every woman is made to train for. Top of her class, she is expected to be the best, but is that what she wants? The story follows her as she rebels against the patriarchy (yes!) and tries to derail the system, falling in love with one of her female classmates along the way. It’s rebellious, clever, thrilling, and feminine forward. This book is a fiery sensation that’ll keep you blazing until spring and summer bring the sun back.

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

This one is a bit on the fluffier side, rather quirky and hilarious and a little . . . rom-com-y. Not that we don’t stan a good rom-com here, but that hasn’t necessarily been the theme for this list. Satisfaction Guaranteed follows Cade and Selena as they run, and attempt to save, a failing sex-toy shop called, you guessed it, Satisfaction Guaranteed. It’s a bit of a scandalous spin on the rom-com––a bit lighthearted, a bit what-we-didn’t-know-we-needed-until-we-read-it. It’s got just the right amount of slow-burn, hilarity, and serendipity that will bring you down a notch so you’re not burning bright when the sun finally comes out. After this, you’ll be just the right temperature to head into spring and summer without getting burnt (this is not a substitute for sunscreen, however).

Check out these books if you want to add a little heat to your winter and maybe even save some money on your electricity bill (wink wink). Not only that, you can support the LGBTQ+ community and local authors at the same time, and spice up your life while you’re at it!

A child in a spacesuit attached to a book

How the Big Five Publish Genre Fiction

Booksellers are often tasked with ensuring the shelf a new book is placed on aligns with the marketing the publisher is going for. Is The Handmaid’s Tale science fiction or dystopian fiction or “speculative fiction” as Margaret Atwood herself would have it? Ursula Le Guin famously countered Atwood’s definition, calling this categorizing “arbitrary” and “restrictive.”

Regardless of what you call them, fiction books as a whole sell more copies than nonfiction books—and thrillers, mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy are the most read. And while pop culture critics lament the downfall of our supposed literary culture, what are writers and publishers alike to do in creating, acquiring, and publishing books to cater to the growth in genre fiction readers? Since the Big Five have the most publishing power, the best way to investigate the popular fiction they make is to dive into their genre fiction-focused imprints.

Penguin Random House

Starting out with original adaptations of Star Trek, Bantam Books (and science fiction subdivision Bantam Spectra) has put out works by modern genre heavyweights like Danielle Steel and George R. R. Martin. Though they no longer publish manga, the Del Rey imprint specializes in science fiction and fantasy books, publishing novelizations of video games along with classics like Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern series and the “weird fiction” of China Miéville. Not to mention numerous digital imprints such as Alibi (mystery), Loveswept & Flirt (romance), and Hydra (horror and scifi)—or the semi-independent DAW Books distributed by Penguin Random House.

Ballantine Books’s move away from early pulp fiction acquisitions conflicted with rival Ace Books, as they squabbled to get rights to The Lord of the Rings. They now both sit under the same Penguin Random House umbrella, and Ace Books boasts a backlist of Dune, The Once and Future King, and Neuromancer and shares that same editorial team with fantasy imprint Roc Books that published the Discworld series and The Dresden Files series.


Tor Books is the jewel of Tor Publishing Group, formerly Tom Doherty Associates, publishing almost three thousand works since just 1980 and known as the imprint that published Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive series. The Tor/Forge blog and website are renowned for their insight into the speculative fiction publishing world too.

Housed under Macmillan’s St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books is one of the only imprints focused on mystery, thriller, and suspense novels. The Cassie Dewell novels of C. J. Box (which would become the TV show Big Sky), the gothic whodunnit The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller, and works by Louise Penny (who recently published State of Terror, co-written with Hillary Clinton) were all Minotaur books.


The entire Harlequin branch of HarperCollins nearly monopolized the romance market for decades, including everything from erotica to paranormal and historical love stories. After acquiring Avon Publications, many early “cheesecake” paperbacks were folded into HarperCollins, and newer releases include tie-ins to the TV show Bridgerton. Early works by Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle now fall under Harlequin. However, ebooks and self-published works have started to outpace the popularity of formally published romances.

Harper Voyager was originally Eos Books, but now publishes science fiction, epic fantasy, and especially urban fantasy. Voyager boasts work of tabletop role-playing game legend Gerald Brom, military sci-fi writer William H. Keith (as Ian Douglas), and speculative fiction writer and poet Beth Cato.


Forever and Forever Yours are Hachette’s romance imprints, but the big dive into genre fiction is through science fiction and fantasy imprint Orbit. Popular reads from Orbit include The Witcher series and The Broken Earth Trilogy. Acquisition of Gollancz also means Hachette oversees the out-of-print ebook collection website, SF Gateway.

Simon & Schuster

Still a separate entity, at least for now with the merger court case pending, the only real genre fiction imprint left at Simon & Schuster is the speculative fiction Saga Press. Mostly featuring up-and-comers like Catherynne M. Valente, Rebecca Roanhorse, Ken Liu, and T. Kingfisher, it’s no surprise they still market the works of Le Guin.

Publishing works of popular genre fiction is no small task—Ooligan Press’s first fantasy title in its twenty-year history, Court of Venom, was released April 5, 2022. However, it’s easy to see that walking up to the dystopian fiction shelf in your local bookstore may not just be the work of an attentive bookseller, but the work of an entire imprint intent on bringing a love of genre fiction all the way from the top of the editorial team to the hands of those ready to be swept away to another world.