Chicago Chapter

Kriti Festival

The Kriti Festival is a four-day literary event celebrating South Asian and diaspora literature, and was held in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2014. We hope to bring it back in 2017, if we find sufficient volunteers to organize it; if you live in Chicagoland and are interested in helping out, please e-mail Mary Anne Mohanraj, at

Chicago and Oak Park Book Clubs

Chicago hosts two monthly book clubs, designed to bring together those individuals who enjoy reading South Asian and diaspora literature and who would like to meet others with similar interests. All are welcome to join. One is held in the city, and the second is in Oak Park.

Oak Park Book Club

The book club organizers are Mary Anne Mohanraj and Surinder Nand. Please feel free to e-mail us with any questions. The book club maintains a separate low-volume mailing list so members can receive updates on meeting specifics — if interested, please join our book club mailing list. Meetings are held on the third Saturday of the month, from 3-5 p.m., rotated among members’ homes in or near Oak Park.

Below is a list of our upcoming books and meeting dates.

  • Saturday, February 16: Running in the Family, by Michael Ondaatje
  • Saturday, March 16: Maximum City, by Suketu Mehta
  • Saturday, April 20: The Story of My Assassins, by Tarun J. TejpalWe hope you can join us!
    Past Books
    • April 2012: Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
    • June 2012: Palace of Illusions, by Chitra Divakaruni
    • July 21: Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh
    • August 18: Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri
    • September 15: Leaving India, by Minal Hajratwala
    • October 13: Bodies in Motion, by Mary Anne Mohanraj
    • January 19: White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga

Chicago Book Club

The book club organizers are: Sital Shah, Linda Groetzinger, and Luaunna Hill. Please feel free to e-mail us with any questions. The book club maintains a separate low-volume mailing list so members can receive updates on meeting specifics — if interested, please join our book club mailing list. Also, we are looking for a couple good volunteers to help us organize the book club meetings. If you are interested in helping to organize the DesiLit book club, please email Sital at

If you would like to get on the DesiLit Book club list serve or know anyone who may be interested, please email Sital at to receive an invite to join the Yahoo list. As always, new folks are always welcome to join us for great discussion and good wine!

Below is a list of our upcoming books and meeting dates.

April 2016: The Leaving of Things by Jay Antani

We hope you can join us! All meetings are held at 7:30pm at Book Cellar located at
4736-38 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
Phone: 773-293-2665

Past Books
  • April 2016: The Leaving of Things by Jay Antani
  • March 2016: Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
  • February 2016: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
  • January 2016: A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor
  • December 2015: The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
  • November 2015: A Cut Like Wound by Anita Nair
  • October 2015: The Sleep Walker’s Guide to Dancing Mira Jacob
  • August 2015: The Invitation by Anne Cherian
  • July 2015: Noor by Sorayya Khan
  • June 2015: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
  • April 2015: The Romantics by Pankaj Mishra
  • March 2015: Family Life by Akhil Sharma
  • February 2015: Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel
  • January 2015: The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard Morais
  • December 2014: The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • November 2014: Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  • October 2014: Salaam, Love by Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi
  • September 2014: City of Devi by Manil Suri
  • August 2014: The Lost Pearl by Lara Zuberi
  • July 2014: Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga
  • June 2014: The Blind Man’s Garden by Nadeem Aslam
  • April 2014: The Mountain of Light by Indu Sundaresan
  • February 2014: Atlas of Unknowns by Tania James
  • December 2013: Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
  • November 2013: The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah
  • October 2013: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
  • September 2013: Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
  • August 2013: Everything Was Goodbye by Gurjinder Basran
  • July 2013: Narcropolis by Jeet Thayil
  • June 2013: A Deconstructed Heart by Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed
  • May 2013: The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri
  • April 2013: The Hindi Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan
  • February 2013: Love InshaAllah by Nura Maznavi
  • January 2013: The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar
  • September 2012: Quarantine by Rahul Mehta
  • Aug 2012: River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
  • July 2012: Miss Timmins’ School For Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy
  • June 2012: Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan
  • May 2012: An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy
  • April 2012: One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  • March 2012: 2 States: The Story of My Marriage by Chetan Bhagat
  • February 2012: Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
  • December 2011: Haunting Bombay by Shilpa Agarwal
  • November 2011: The Storyteller of Marrakesh by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
  • October 2011: The Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji
  • August 2011: A Convent of Little Flowers by Indu Sundaresan
  • July 2011: The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
  • June 2011: Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal
  • May 2011: Love Marriage by V. V. Ganeshananthan
  • February 2011: The Death Of Vishnu by Mail Suri
  • January 2011: Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
  • November 2010: Invisible Lives by Anjali Banerjee
  • October 2010: Animal’s People by Indra Sinha
  • September 2010: In Other Rooms Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
  • August 2010: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  • June 2010: Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa
  • May 2010: Paddy Indian by Cauvery Madhavan
  • April 2010: Transmission by Hari Kunzru
  • March 2010: Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam
  • February 2010: Mistress: A Novel by Anita Nair
  • January 2010: Londonstani by Gautam Malkani
  • December 2009: Family Planning by Karan Mahajan
  • November 2009: A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
  • October 2009: Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
  • August 2009: Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh
  • July 2009: The Konkans by Tony D’Souza
  • June 2009: Bittersweets by Roopa Farooki
  • May 2009: The Karma of Brown Folk by Vijay Prashad
  • April 2009: Q & A (aka Slumdog Millionaire) by Vikas Swarup
  • March 2009: White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  • February 2009: Midnight?s Children by Salman Rushdie
  • December 2008: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
  • November 2008: The Unaccustomed Earth by Jumpa Lahiri
  • October 2008: In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh
  • September 2008: Trespassing by Uzma Aslam Khan
  • August 2008: The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
  • July 2008: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  • June 2008: A Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami
  • May 2008: Story-Wallah: Short Fiction from South Asian Writers by Shyam Selvadurai (Editor)
  • April 2008: Girl Most Likely To by Poonam Sharma
  • March 2008: Shantaram by David Roberts
  • January 2008: Junglee Girl by Gina Kamani
  • December 2007: Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa
  • November 2007: One Night at the Call Center by Chetan Bhagat
  • September 2007: That Summer in Paris by Abha Dawesar
  • August 2007: English, August by Upanyu Chatterjee
  • July 2007: Madras on Rainy Days by Samina Ali
  • June 2007: Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh
  • May 2007: Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid
  • March 2007: The Zig Zag Way by Anita Desai
  • February 2007: Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra
  • December 2006: Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie
  • October 2006: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
  • August 2006: The In Between World of Vikram Lall by M.C. Vassanji
  • July 2006: Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair
  • June 2006: The Guru of Love by Samrat Upadhyay
  • May 2006: Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie
  • April 2006: Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
  • March 2006: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • February 2006: The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sunderesan
  • January 2006: Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
  • November/December 2005: What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin
  • September / October 2005: Bodies in Motion by Mary Anne Mohanraj
  • August 2005: The Moor?s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie
  • July 2005: Queen of Dreams by Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni
  • May ? June 2005: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  • April 2005: Life Isn?t All Ha Ha Hee Hee by Meera Syal
  • March 2005: The Kiterunner by Khalid Husseini
  • February 2005: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Chicago Writing Workshop

Our local writing workshop meets the first Sunday of the month in Lincoln Square or Wicker Park, Chicago, from 3-6 in the afternoon. The workshop is open to all genres of creative writing, and all levels of experience. The workshop is free.

If interested in participating, please contact one of our workshop coordinators for further details: Smita Das ( or Amina Chaudhri (

Past Events

Kiran Bavikatte Reading / Writing Workshop Series

In 2008, DesiLit was the recipient of a generous grant from the Kiran Bavikatte Memorial Foundation, to help establish a reading/writing workshop series in Chicago. Following are some of the events organized as a result of that grant.

Friday, April 18, 2008, 7-9 p.m. Reading
Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago (

Join us as we celebrate the launch of Sugi Ganeshananthan’s first novel, LOVE MARRIAGE, with a reading and Q&A by Sugi, accompanied by brief readings from authors Mary Anne Mohanraj, Ranjit Souri and visiting Laotian poet, Bryan Thao Worra. $5-$10 suggested donation at the door.


Saturday, April 19, 2008, 12 – 1:30 p.m. Reading
McCormick Place

Three S. Asian-American authors come together to offer you tales of love and marriage. Sugi Ganeshananthan will be reading from her first novel, LOVE MARRIAGE, Kali Plomin from her first novel, HOME BEFORE THE MONSOON, and Mary Anne Mohanraj from her collection of Sri Lankan-American stories, BODIES IN MOTION. This event is part of Asian American Studies Conference; registration is required. Lunch is included.


Saturday, April 19, 2008, 2:30 – 5:00 p.m. Writing Workshop
Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Avenue, Rm. 720

Sugi Ganeshananthan will lead a fiction writing workshop and discuss aspects of publishing your first novel. Pre-registration is recommended; space is limited to 15 participants. $5-10 suggested donation; free to Roosevelt students, faculty and staff. To register, please e-mail with the SUBJ line: WORKSHOP REGISTRATION. This event is kindly co-sponsored by the Roosevelt University MFA in Creative Writing.

Mini-Kriti: A Tiny South Asian Literary Treat
Saturday, June 21, 12 – 5
Wieboldt Hall, 339 E. Chicago, Room 413
$10-$20 donation requested, sliding scale. DesiLit is a non-profit organization; no one will be turned away for lack of funds.


11:30: Registration opens

12:00 – 12:45: Introduction to Taxes for New and Experienced Writers, taught by imi rashid, cpa. Learn from an expert what you can deduct (books, travel, grad school, and more), and when you can start (right now!)

1 – 1:45: Panel Discussion: Writing the Novel — Panelists talk about the process of writing and publishing their novels — Narayan, Desai, Mohanraj, Primlani

2 – 2:15: Meet and Greet: A break to mingle, chat, meet the panelists.

2:15 – 2:45: Reading: Kirin Narayan, Boman Desai, Angeli Primlani

3 – 3:45: Panel Discussion: Getting the Writing Done — Panelists and audience discuss strategies for getting their writing done, around full-time jobs, children, procrastination and the rest of our busy lives. — Narayan, Desai, Mohanraj, Souri

4 – 4:30: Reading: Ranjit Souri, Mary Anne Mohanraj

5:00 – Group dinner — Panelists and audience are all invited to go out for dinner together and continue the discussion.

This DesiLit event was also co-sponsored by Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies.

Rasaka Theatre / DesiLit Creativity Workshops
Saturday, February 10-11, 2007
Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Avenue, Room TBD

DesiLit and Rasaka Theatre cordially invite you to participate in our creativity workshops!

February 10, 2007, 9:30 – 5:00 p.m.
An introduction to writing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. This workshop is geared for beginners — no experience needed! We’ll do exercises that introduce you to all four genres, and by the end of the workshop, you’ll leave with a complete piece of writing. Over lunch at a local cafe, we’ll discuss the business of writing — how to market and sell your work.
Instructors: Bobby Zaman and Mary Anne Mohanraj.

February 11, 2007, 9:30 – 5:00 p.m.
An introduction to acting. This workshop is geared for beginners — no experience needed! We’ll do group and individual exercises designed to unlock your inner actor. Over lunch at a local cafe we’ll discuss the business of acting — how to begin auditioning and performing as a stage actor in Chicago.
Instructors: Anjali Thawani and Bobby Zaman.

Cost: $40/day ($25 for students/seniors); $70/entire weekend ($40 for students/seniors).
Space will be limited to fifteen participants/session.

May 2007: The Second Kriti Festival


Sunday, April 30, 2006, 2:00 p.m.
Exploring Your Inner Writer (A DesiLit event)

An informal discussion among writers and those interested in creative writing (fiction, poetry, drama, creative nonfiction). This will be relatively unstructured, but some topics covered may include: stimulating creativity, writing exercises, good books to help you get started, local writing workshops, discipline, your inner editor, how you start publishing, etc. and so on. E-mail to rsvp and for address (in Bucktown, Chicago). Free.

Sunday, March 12, 2006, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Private Brunch with Indu Sundaresan


Enjoy the opportunity to chat in a casual and relaxed setting with author Indu Sundaresan, over delicious brunch delicacies.Location: Mary Anne Mohanraj’s home in Bucktown, Chicago; inquire for address
$15, pre-registration required, limited to 30 participants
Register by e-mail or phone:, 312-399-2896

Saturday, March 11, 2006, 7-9 p.m.
Reading and Q&A with Indu Sundaresan

Indu Sundaresan is the author of The Twentieth Wife andFeast of Roses, which tell the tale of Mehrunnisa, who marries Emperor Jahangir in the 15th century and becomes his twentieth wife, the Empress Nur Jahan. Mehrunnisa becomes Emperor in all but name of the vast Mughal lands that encompass modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and a massive chunk of northern and central India. Based on a true story.Roosevelt University
425 S. Wabash Ave., Rm 244
Free and open to the public, co-sponsored by the Chicago Foundation for Women Asian American Leadership Council

Friday, March 3, 2006, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
DesiLit Chicago Rapid Fire Reading

Clips from our show! (17.6 MB, 9.47 min)
Featuring Anita Chandwaney, Aroon Chaddha, S.G. Murthy, Purvi Patel, Nikhil Trivedi, Devi Bhaduri, Malini Goel, Mary Anne Mohanraj. Not pictured: Vennila Kain, Lakshmni Rengarajan, Ranjit Souri, Sachin Waikar.

Local desi writers showcasing short fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and playwriting.Location: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln
Recommended donation: $10 non-members, $5 members, students, and seniors.
Co-sponsored by SAPAC (The South Asian Progressive Action Collective).

2005: The First Kriti Festival

If you’re interested in actively helping to plan our 2009 activities (reading series, writing workshops) or 2009 festival, please join our planning list. If you just want to be sure you’re notified about local Chicago chapter activities, please join our general announcements list.

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