Author headshot credit: Sultan Khan

We sat down with the Saumya Dave, author of Well-Behaved Indian Women, to chat about the inspiration behind her mother-daughter story and when writing became more than a hobby for her. Don’t miss her book picks at the end of the interview, too!

What drew you to writing a mother-daughter story? 

My own mother moved to the United States in her early twenties and I often heard stories of the life she left behind, the person she used to be, and how she shifted parts of herself in order to adjust to societal expectations. I always wondered how different she would have been if she stayed in India. Throughout my life, I’ve seen that mother daughter relationships have such a potent mixture of identification, hope, and love. While this can lead to a rich closeness, it can also come with tension and misunderstandings. The relationship also evolves with different stages of life and I really wanted to show how three generations of women straddle the lines of mother, daughter, and friend. 

Simran feels judged for her “writing hobby.” Is this based on your personal experience in any way as you’ve pursued another career as well? 

Similar to many South Asian children of immigrants, I was taught that a career was something that provided stability and financial security. Even though I always loved reading and writing, I didn’t think writing could actually be a career for me until I was pursuing my psychiatry residency. Initially, my parents worried I was going after something uncertain and so different from everything they had ever known. They later told me a lot of that stemmed from their own fears, wanting to protect me from getting hurt, and being concerned that working two jobs would become too overwhelming. They cried the first time they held one of my advanced copies and said they were so grateful that moving to America meant their children could go pursue opportunities they didn’t have. 

What books are in your book stack now to read next? 

I just started and am loving Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo, out September 29th. I’m almost done with Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan. After that, I’m looking forward to What We Carry, a memoir  by Maya Shanbhag Lang and The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton. 

About Well-Behaved Indian Women

Perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin, Well-Behaved Indian Women is a mother-daughter story about three generations of women—Simran, Nandini and Mimi—who struggle to be true to themselves as they pursue their dreams. Told from the alternating perspectives of each woman, Well-Behaved Indian Women is a timeless immigrant story that masterfully captures the complex relationship between mothers and their daughters. Get your copy here!