This week we feature the current favorites and obsessions of Sona Charaipotra, a journalist and author who’s written for everyone from the New York Times to Teen Vogue. The co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book packaging company with a decidedly diverse bent, she’s also the co-author of the dance drama Tiny Pretty Things and its sequel Shiny Broken Pieces. She’s proud to serve as VP of content for #WeNeedDiverseBooks. She blogs about books, food, travel and parenting at IshqInABackpack.com. Find her on the web at SonaCharaipotra.com, or on Twitter @sona_c. Check out her picks below!
The nation’s most diverse city, JC is still decidedly underrated — and most residents would prefer to keep it that way. Situated just across the Hudson from Manhattan, we’re the subject of countless New York Times articles declaring us the next big thing, and with good reason: great eats (including our own Little India), beautiful brownstones, stunning city views, great parks and activities, cool shops like our awesome branch of WORD Bookstore, all in a culturally rich, family-friendly city that sometimes feels like a small town.
Many of us know about Pixar animator Patel’s latest project, the short film Sanjay’s Super Team — which is just amazing. It’s the first real representation of our youth many American Desis have seen on screen, and earned an Oscar nod for best animated short for his signature storytelling and bold, poppy art. But Patel’s also a children’s book author, and he has several must-own tomes out right now. Top of my list the picture book Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth, a whirling dervish of a tale about the antics the Hindu god gets up to in order to get his hands on his favorite treat, ladoo (of course), and how he ends up writing the Mahabharata.
I’m a master procrastinator, and this is my vice of choice. I have secret inspiration pages for works-in-progress, but public pages for bookcases I covet, Indian food, and gorgeous doors worldwide.
I’m on the exec team for this non-profit, but let’s be honest, that just makes it even more kickass. Founded in 2014, the organization’s mission (which aligns closely with that of my company, CAKE Literary) is critical — to get more books on shelves that represent the breadth and depth of the American cultural experience in all its diversity. We’re doing that through publisher, bookseller, librarian and reader outreach, as well as funding grants for writers and publishing interns, awarding stellar works, and creating anthologies that all more voices to reach today’s increasingly diverse and dynamic population of young people. And five words: WNDB Scholastic Book Club Partnership. It’s every brown book nerd’s dream come true!
Get your fix of Bollywood and funny right here. They haven’t made a new one in about ten months, but the backlog should keep you busy. Start with this one:
VONA (Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation)
If you’re a writer of color and are looking a different kind of workshop experience, this is the place to be. Although I’ve never had the opportunity to attend myself (and am so covetous!), my husband Navdeep has taken two life-changing workshops with co-founder Junot Diaz. Other instructors have included Marjorie Liu, Chitra Divakaruni, Colson Whitehead, Terry McMillan, and Daniel Jose Older. Apply. You know you want to.