Desi Girl by Sarah Malik

A new book about a desi girl’s deeply personal Aussie journey, writes Aparna Jacob

Reading Time: 2 minutes


Sarah Malik’s first book Desi Girl, released last year, is a collection of personal essays written in her characteristic understated and subtle style but delivering a sharp, journalistic examination of these very issues. It calls out, articulates and gives shape to the nuanced experiences of living and trying to belong in contemporary Australia, as a person of colour, a first or second generation immigrant with all the small and large struggles, inequities, indignities and inequalities that it entails.

I first encountered Sarah Malik’s writing in 2019 through her article How the long commute from Sydney’s western suburbs shaped me, where she wrote about the West to East commute that many Sydneysiders undertake every day to access their places of work or study from places they can afford to live in. For many, this actual journey also symbolises the greater metaphorical journey of traversing divisions of class, race, financial mobility and being part of what counts as mainstream Australia every single day.

Desi Girl (UQP Books) is a courageous book in the way it reveals so much of Sarah’s own deeply personal journey of navigating gender, faith, race, class, modelling for anyone else on a similar path, ways of being and becoming and belonging. It accurately captures the outrage felt by a whole generation who have been brought up on the premise that Australia is their home but may not feel that they are truly seen or that they truly belong. The book inspires in the way it captures the courage, fight and determination in the constant navigation of these issues to assert oneself, find your authentic self and claim your rightful place under the Australian sun.

Sarah Malik’s Desi Girl is highly recommended for reading and rereading.

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