"Sonali Thatte, dreamed of being a novelist since she was a little girl, but after moving to the United States she saw no evidence in bookstores and libraries that the stories she wanted to tell were stories anyone wanted to hear. What made her decide to try anyway was the fact that her children grew up without seeing a single protagonist who looked like them in books, movies, or any media they consumed. As adults, she didn’t want the slim pickings they had for stories set in their culture to be filled with stereotypes and exoticism. The journey to being a published author (Sonali Dev) without compromising on writing stories that are both authentic and universally human was long and filled with rejection. One of her earliest responses from a publisher was a request to change the race of one of her protagonists to white to make marketing her book easier. Instead of changing her story, she decided to advocate for diversity in publishing, especially commercial fiction. Sonali regularly speaks at libraries, bookstores, and writing conferences about inclusiveness, teaches workshops, and mentors aspiring authors. She believes there’s still a long way to go but is excited about how much the industry has changed and the limitless potential of the stories she is getting to read and tell."
Nominated by Anita Navkal