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2022 South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

August 2, 2022

The South Asia National Outreach Consortium (SANOC), of which the UW South Asia Center is a member center, announces the 2022 recipients of the South Asia Book Award:

2022 Award Winners

Dancing in Thatha’s Footsteps by Srividhya Venkat;  illustrated by Kavita Ramchandran (Yali Books, 2021). Thatha takes his granddaughter Varsha to weekly bharatanatyam classical dance lessons while her brother, Varun, tags along. Unexpectedly, the rhythm draws Varun in, but amid spirit crushing comments he’s uncertain that dance is for boys until Thatha shows his dance moves and reveals his past as a dancer in India. (Grades PK-2)

                                                     A hand illustrated book cover for "Dancing in Thatha's Footsteps". It shows a young child dancing with an older male figure.

Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2021). Kabir was born in jail, where his mother was unjustly serving time. When determined that he was too old to stay and is suddenly released, he loses the only family and home he knows. The rest of the story is about him, learning how to survive in the world, with the help of Rani, a street girl. (Grades 5-8)

An illustrated book cover of "Born Behind Bars". It shows two children standing in a river pointing towards a distant city.

The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim (Harper Collins, 2021). A mother and daughter story of resilience, strength, and love, as they rediscover themselves and each other while being lost in the myriad gallis of the City of Djinns, Delhi. Sheba Karim transports you with Ruby and Noreen to heart and soul of Delhi through her vivid descriptions of culture, architecture, ruins, and of course-the food. (Grades 9-12)

An illustrated book cover for "The Marvelous Mirza Girls". It shows a woman's head and shoulders framed by a nested set of curved window frames.


Where Three Oceans Meet by Rajani LaRocca; illustratred by Archana Sreenivasan (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2021). Sejal, Mommy and Pati travel to Kanyakumari, the coastal town where three oceans meet, on India’s southern tip. On this wonderful intergenerational journey, they visit friends, devour tasty foods, and explore the country which connects them. (PreK-Grade 3)

Burying the Moon by Andrée Poulin; illustrated by Sonali Zohra (Groundwood Books, 2021). Latika’s village lacks proper sanitation facilities for women, and they are forced to silently tread to the field every night to relieve themselves. Fearful of scorpions, snakes and harmful germs, and dreading leaving school once she menstruates, Latika gathers courage to approach a government agent to change this shameful problem. (Grades 4-7)

American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2021). In this gripping coming of age story, Indian-American teenager, Rani, must decide whether to be drawn into a dysfunctional relationship with her first love, Oliver, or stay true to who she is and where she comes from. (Grades 10-12)

2022 Highly Commended Books

Chaiwala! by Priti Birla Maheshwari; illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids Books, 2021). When their train makes a 10-minute stop at the Jaipur station, a young girl and her mother dash to get in line for chai. Waiting for her milky spiced tea, she experiences the delicious sights, smells and sounds of the Chaiwala’s cart. Mmmm! (PreK-K)

Samira Surfs by Rukhsanna Guidroz; illustrated by Fahmida Azim (Kokila, 2021). This novel in verse transports middle grade readers to the sandy beaches of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh where twelve-year-old Rohingya refugee, Samira, discovers a passion for surfing following her family’s perilous escape from war torn Myanmar.

Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame by Supriya Kelkar (Lee & Low Books, 2021). In 1857, twelve-year old Meera has become a widow before she even moves into her husband’s house. Desperate to escape her husband’s funeral pyre, Meera joins the household of a British commander as a maid and is drawn into a burgeoning soldiers’ rebellion against the British Raj.

Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab by Priya Huq (Abrams, 2021). In this beautiful graphic novel, Bangladeshi-American Nisrin, a traumatized victim of a hate crime, emerges from her home for her freshman year, having decided to wear the hijab at her new school. What follows leads to Nisrin’s discovery of her complex family history with both Islam and Bangladesh.

Untold: Defining Moments of the Uprooted edited by Gabrielle Deonath and Kamini Ramdeen (Mango & Marigold Press, 2021). Editors Gabrielle Deonath and Kamini Ramdeen have curated a brave and beautiful anthology filled with Brown Girls’ voices telling their personal stories of discovery, self-love, mental health, and more across the South Asian diaspora.


The South Asia National Outreach Consortium (SANOC) is the sponsor of the South Asia Book Award

SANOC’s mission is to enhance K-16 Outreach Programming by building a stronger network and collaboration among the South Asia National Resource Centers, and institutions with South Asia programming, across the United States. The SANOC initiative started in 2003 and was formally established in 2009 to address the NRC Invitational Priority 1 for the 2010-2013 grant cycles, which encourages collaborative programs among the Title VI centers. We also look to partner with other institutions of higher learning. The national network will work to share information and resources on South Asia, incorporating South Asia content into school curricula, and promoting the resources, workshops, conferences, and educational programs at the South Asia centers.

SANOC Member Centers

South Asia Institute, Columbia University
South Asia Program, Cornell University
South Asia Center, Syracuse University

Center for South Asia Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania
South Asia Institute, University of Texas at Austin
South Asia Center, University of Washington
Center for South Asia, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Asian Studies Center, Michigan State University