top of page

Aru Shah: Giving a voice to Hindu Indian Americans

By Cindy Zhao Oct. 14, 2020


During her free time, Priya Garcia, English and Visual Performing Arts Department, likes to read the books her students are reading. She recently came to love the Aru Shah book series, written by Hindu Indian American author Roshani Chokshi.


“When my sisters were around the age of my students, they were fascinated with the Percy Jackson book series by Rick Riordan. At that time, the series was groundbreaking because it featured a main character who struggles with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia, but who is also part of a magical universe where his mental illness was a result of his superpowers. The series gave a voice to children who were part of that community and gave them the chance to see themselves in the heroic characters,” Garcia said.


“[The Percy Jackson series] gave a voice to children who were part of that community and gave them the chance to see themselves in the heroic characters.”

Over the course of his career, Riordan realized that as a straight white male author in America, he was in a position of privilege and wanted to use that advantage for good. Thus, he set out to find other religious pantheons and offered to sponsor and mentor authors of color within those communities. Aru Shah is very similar to Percy Jackson since she is an adolescent hero. But whereas the characters in Percy Jackson are descendants of gods, the characters in Aru Shah, including Aru herself, are avatars, or reincarcerations, of ancient Hindu heroes.


“The recipes are similar. You have these young heroes going on quests that have magical and divine implications, but they are for a particular community,” Garcia said.


As a Hindu Indian American, Garcia appreciates the cultural tales Chokshi embeds into her series. Meanwhile, people who are not Hindu can still enjoy the stories through the book’s glossary with explanations of the folklore, terminology and pronunciations referenced in the book.


“Aru Shah may be a young adult series, but to see a character who looks and sounds like you...or has similar interests as you is very valuable.”

The characters face many conflicts they must work through, including complicated quests and personal problems. Relatable teenage issues are dispersed throughout the books, along with various themes of friendship, family and community.

In particular, Garcia recognizes the need to diversify the literature students are exposed to. The literary canon we invest in—even today—fails to include and represent everyone.


“Aru Shah may be a young adult series, but to see a character who looks and sounds like you, goes through similar experiences as you or has similar interests as you is very valuable. I did not feel like I had that when I was in school and I want to change that for my students,” Garcia said.

 

About the Contributor

Cindy Zhao

Lifestyle Editor


Cindy Zhao is a junior and the Lifestyle editor. She likes to take pictures of anything that catches her eye and occasionally publishes bad writing on her blog. Junior year is terrifying for her; all she wants to do is read all day. She is also severely sleep deprived. Beware.

21 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


Screen Shot 2024-02-24 at 7.54.40 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-02-24 at 7.55.49 PM.png

Facebook

Have any questions? Want to make any suggestions? Contact us at 

We'll reply as soon as we can!

  • Facebook
  • Instagram

Notice any mistakes?

Contact us here!

Recent Articles

Screen Shot 2024-02-24 at 7.55.11 PM.png
bottom of page