South Asia Speaks mentorship gives budding writers opportunity to learn from established authors for free

Published 30 Aug, 2021 05:20pm

Images Staff

Applications can be submitted until September 30 for the one-year mentorship beginning January 2022.

South Asia Speaks, a completely free literary mentorship for early career writers in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives, is calling for applications for its next session in January 2022. The application period is from September 1 to September 30.

As part of the programme, mentors help polish a major project, such as a book, a translated work, or a series of reported pieces for their mentees. They review writing, listen to concerns, and help problem solve.

The programme has no age restrictions and only asks that the writers applying not have previously published a book.

This year there are 24 mentors from all over Asia, including Pakistani writers. They are Prayaag Akbar, Deepa Anappara, Fatima Bhutto, Diksha Basu, Rahul Bhatia, Isaac Chotiner, Avni Doshi, McKenzie Funk, Sonia Faleiro, Samar Halarnkar, Marc Herman, Tania James, Taran N Khan, Aruni Kashyap, Mira Kamdar, Karan Mahajan, Mujib Mashal, Aanchal Malhotra, Sanam Maher, Arunava Sinha, Samanth Subramanian, Mahesh Rao, Madhuri Vijay and Mirza Waheed.

According to South Asia Speaks, they received 500 applications in the first year. "Our ideal fellow is talented and driven with a track record of finishing a project. Since we are assembling a class of fellows, we are looking for applicants who will contribute to a collegial atmosphere and support one another," the programme's website reads.

The mentorship is open to citizens of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives living in their home countries for the duration of the programme. Afghan writers are exempt from the residence clause.

To apply, you must be working on one of the following long-term projects:

  • A book of fiction

  • A book of non-fiction

  • A work in translation

  • A series of linked reported pieces

The projects may include short stories, memoirs, travel narratives and more as long as they fit into these genres and are in English.

This year, they have special categories as well.

  • Fatima Bhutto will mentor a writer working on climate in South Asia as well as an Afghan writer working on either a fiction or non-fiction project.

  • Aanchal Malhotra is interested in projects on the Partition of India.

  • Aruni Kashyap would like to mentor a writer from North-East India.

  • Arunava Sinha will mentor early career translators working in any language. ​

The programme also asks people who have attended a creative writing class, writing residency or writing fellowship outside South Asia not to apply.

To apply, read more on their website.