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KPBS Midday Edition

San Diego Author Anisha Bhatia On Writing About Culture, Empowering Women

San Diego author Anisha Bhatia in an undated photo.
Anisha Bhatia
San Diego author Anisha Bhatia in an undated photo.
Bhatia's debut novel, “The Rules Of Arrangement,” uses the lens of an arranged marriage to voice a social commentary on beauty standards, colorism, body image and expectations for South Asian women.

The San Diego Writers Festival kicks off on Saturday with virtual events bringing together local writers and nationally known and award-winning authors. Discussions range from the practical — how to find a literary agent — to the philosophical: how books can help us through life crises.

San Diego author Anisha Bhatia will be participating in the festival on Saturday as part of a panel on writing about culture.

Bhatia's debut novel, “The Rules Of Arrangement,” was published July 13. It tells the story of Zoya Sahni, who has achieved academic and professional successes but is still unmarried at the ripe old age of 26. Her family sees this as a problem to solve through an arranged marriage. But being unmarried is not necessarily a problem for Sahni, who lives in Mumbai.

Bhatia, who was raised in Mumbai and has lived in San Diego for 20 years, uses the lens of an arranged marriage to voice a social commentary on beauty standards, colorism, body image and expectations for South Asian women.

"Women everywhere who have been made to feel less than because of their appearance or weight or skin or anything," Bhatia said. "I just wanted readers to take away from this book that you are enough. You deserve all the good things, don't shrink yourself and take all the chances you get, don't hold yourself back."

She joined Midday Edition Wednesday to talk about the book, publishing her first novel and writing about culture.