Pen Center USA Award in Research Nonfiction

Asian American Writers Workshop Award in Nonfiction

California Book Award Silver Medal in Nonfiction

Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Nonfiction

Reviews and Praise


Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker:

I love Minal Hajratwala’s book Leaving India. It is what I imagine India itself to be like: incomparable, sprawling, rich, surprising, very old and wise and forever capable of re-creating itself, no matter where pieces of it land. Minal Hajratwala is a fine daughter of the continent, bringing insight, intelligence and compassion to the lives and sojourns of her far-flung kin. For those of us who have needed to understand the presence of so many Indians in our various lands, this book is a wonderful primer.


San Francisco Chronicle review by Abraham Verghese:

Leaving India gives us a means to understand the forces that took so many Indians (my parents included) away from their birth land … Echoes of V.S. Naipaul … Rich, entertaining and illuminating.

Washington Post review by Sadia Shepard:

Meticulously researched and evocatively written … searingly honest … Leaving India is a story of migration, but it is also, as Hajratwala reminds us, about “the ones we leave behind.”


Novelist and poet Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni:

Leaving India is a fascinating history that kept me up late into the night—and I suspect it will do the same for most readers. Filled with amazing and compelling family stories, it will strike a chord in anyone whose people have come from elsewhere—and today, in America, that’s most of us! I am filled with admiration at Minal’s honesty and the careful beauty of her language. I learned so much, through the story of this one family, about the tragedies and triumphs of the Indian diaspora.

San Jose Mercury News review by Deborah Hopewell:

A powerful, eloquent reminder that, while forces of history and politics do shape the story of each and every one of us, they do not define us.

PublishersWeeklyPublisher’s Weekly starred review:

Told with the probing detail of a reporter, the fluid voice of a poet and the inspired vision of a young woman who walks in many worlds, Hajratwala’s story offers an engaging account of what may be one of the fastest-growing diasporas in the world.


Kirkus Reviews:


A spirited journey through the extended Indian diaspora over the last century … Intricately layered … Immense fortitude and bravery.


S. Mitra Kalita, judge of the Asian American Writers Workshop Literary Awards:

Leaving India stood out in a category crowded with memoir, personal journeys, migrations and coming-of-age stories because it was all of that—yet so much more. Minal Hajratwala’s book captures the story of a vast diaspora through her scattered family, chronicling successes and failures with honesty, empathy, explanation and context. She expertly weaves history into her rendering, and so her book is more than one family’s tale but the broader story of the nations, professions, and identities they embrace.

ColorLines magazine review by Sunita Dhurandhar:

Powerfully candid… While presenting a groundbreaking history of one of the world’s fastest growing diasporas, the book is also deeply moving—with stories of finely drawn characters we care about. Leaving India raises profound questions relevant to all of us who have been shaped by a history of immigration.

Academic Reviews

PopMatters, a journal of cultural criticism:

Leaving India is a profoundly important book in the canon of South Asian American Studies. I would go so far as to place it at the very top in the company of essential accounts of the Diaspora …

SAWNET, the South Asian Women’s Network:

[A] significant intervention into diaspora studies. … Leaving India is a compelling narrative and one that should be in all of our reading lists.

Read or write customer reviews at Amazon and GoodReads.



  • CBS5 Bay Sunday (4 minutes), March 28, 2009 with host Sue Kwon
  • The Aseem Chhabra show (three 8-minute segments), March 2009

Articles, Interviews, & More

    • Profile by Laura Shin, Stanford magazine, March 2009

India Currents magazine cover May 2009

  • Excerpt in India Currents magazine, May 2009
  • Profile by Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle, March 18, 2009
  • Article by Minal Hajratwala about marketing Leaving India, SAJA Forum blog, March 6, 2009
  • Article [88KB .pdf] by Minal Hajratwala about writing Leaving India, ”Intimate History: Reweaving Diaspora Narratives,” Cultural Dynamics, 2007
  • Interview by Jihii Jolly, Lambda Literary, August 2010
  • Review by Yasmin Nair, Windy City Times, July 2010
  • Interview by Mary Ellen Hannibal, The Readers Review (published by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library), July 2010
  • Interview by author Shaila Abdullah on Cayenne Lit blog, April 2009
  • Article [4MB .pdf] by Lavina Melwani, The Indian Express, April 10, 2009
  • Interview by Arthur Pais, India Abroad /, March 18, 2009
  • Review by Yesha Naik, Brooklyn Public Library website, June 2009
  • Review by Piali Roy, Toronto Star, June 9, 2009
  • Interview by Sandhya Nankani, Sepia Mutiny, July 13, 2009
  • Article [3.6 MB .pdf] by Sunita Sorhabji, India-West, May 22, 2009
  • BookslutInterview by Niranjana Iyer,, October 2009
  • Article about talk at St. Mary’s College, The Collegian, October 13, 2009


Media coverage in India


  • Review in SPAN magazine, March/April 2010: “full of well-researched detail, and individual family stories so personal, intriguing and skillfully woven that Leaving India often reads like a gripping novel.”
  • Review in The Hindu, April 4, 2010: “evocatively written … illuminates a world.”
  • Review in the Times of India, December 2009: “a sometimes thought-provoking , sometimes spankably self-indulgent ramble about leaving one home and choosing another.”
  • Review by Saaz Aggarwal in OPEN magazine, December 12, 2009: “Who would have imagined that a woman descended from the illiterate, disagreeable shopkeepers of Fiji, would turn around and produce a book like this?”
  • Review by Eunice de Souza in the Mumbai Mirror, December 10, 2009: “a readable book, with some unexpected details.”
  • Review by Suman Tarafdar in the Financial Express, November 29, 2009: “Unputdownable. For future writers on Indian diaspora, it shall be a touchstone, a marker to compare with.”
  • Review by Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu in The Tribune, August 15, 2010: “Illuminating… A very talented storyteller.”
  • Review by Ismat Tahseen, DNA newspaper, November 22, 2009
  • Review by Vikram Johri in the Business Standard, April 2009


Leaving India

  • Interview [488KB .pdf] by L. Jyotimala, Pravasi Bharati magazine, May 2010.
  • Interview by Ankit Ajmera, DNA newspaper, December 11, 2009
  • Article by Shana Maria Verghis, The Pioneer, November 17, 2009
  • Column by Nilanjana Roy, Business Standard, November 2009
  • Photo op in Indian Show Business, November 2009
  • Interview by Rajesh Kumar Edacheri,, April 17, 2009
  • Profile by Hiral Dholakia Dave, DNA India newspaper, March 10, 2009

#43 on the Top 50 Coolest Desis of 2008 list 🙂