Cover design by Arsh Raziuddin

In 2002, Zara Chowdhary is sixteen years old and living with her family in Ahmedabad, one of India’s fastest-growing cities, when a gruesome train fire claims the lives of sixty Hindu right-wing volunteers and upends the life of five million Muslims. Instead of taking her school exams that week, Zara is put under a three-month siege, with her family and thousands of others fearing for their lives as Hindu neighbors, friends, and members of civil society transform overnight into bloodthirsty mobs, hunting and massacring their fellow citizens. The chief minister of the state at the time, Narendra Modi, will later be accused of fomenting the massacre, and yet a decade later, will rise to become India’s prime minister, sending the “world’s largest democracy” hurtling toward cacophonous Hindu nationalism.

The Lucky Ones traces the past of a multigenerational Muslim family to India’s brave but bloody origins, a segregated city’s ancient past, and the lingering hurt causing bloodshed on the streets. Symphonic interludes offer glimpses into the precious, ordinary lives of Muslims, all locked together in a crumbling apartment building in the city’s old quarters, with their ability to forgive and find laughter, to offer grace even as the world outside, and their place in it, falls apart.

The Lucky Ones entwines lost histories across a subcontinent, examines forgotten myths, prods a family’s secrets, and gazes unflinchingly back at a country rushing to move past the biggest pogrom in its modern history. It is a warning thrown to the world by a young survivor, to democracies that fail to protect their vulnerable, and to homes that won’t listen to their daughters. It is an ode to the rebellion of a young woman who insists she will belong to her land, family, and faith on her own terms.

"Twin rivers of love and pain entwine in this masterpiece about a family in a nation in our world.  Zara Chowdhary's memoir of harrowing hate that forces a redemptive strength is strikingly unsentimental, and yet I have never read a memoir that has tugged more urgently upon my emotions. The Lucky Ones is proof that it is in the voice of a minority population that a nation is revealed.  Nobody knows a country better, nobody fights more fiercely for what is good in it, nobody has a greater stake, nobody has more profound ownership. Given the implications of such a message, this beautifully written memoir deserves a global readership, but it is my special hope every Indian in India, and in the diaspora, reads  Chowdhary's story.  That every Hindu lights the flame: Never in my name."

Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

The Lucky Ones is a story rescued from a fire. An account and an accounting both of the 2002 Gujarat Pogrom, a three month siege that changed the course of Indian political history, helping to install Narendra Modi and set India on its present course. In her debut, Chowdhary has written a singlular mix of personal reportage, memoir and history to give us a vision, not just of the atrocity she and her family lived through, but also a story of the genocidal attack, the history to the attack, and where that history intersects with contemporary India's history and the larger history of global fascism. She moves across these modes--the personal, the historical, the critical--so nimbly you might miss how hard it must be to write this way, much less to survive and speak for the lost to a world that does not, perhaps, even know they were lost. Few stories have offered is an understanding of how Islamophobia is used to motivate vigilantism and sanction state violence in the rush toward autocracy, though, as this one does. A warning, thrown to the world, and a stunning debut--Chowdhary is a much needed new voice in our literature."

Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

"I can't remember the last time I read a book in one sitting... I was in tears through much of this memoir about an Indian Muslim family split apart by history, personal and political. Chowdhary's prose is clean and direct; her interweaving of recent Indian history and personal trauma is seamless. Can a daughter forgive her father for what he has done to his family? Can an Indian Muslim forgive her country for what it has done to her community? Chowdhary is the Indian Muslim literary voice we have been waiting for. She brilliantly, heartbreakingly depicts the perilous status of the world's third largest Muslim population, in what is supposed to be the world's largest democracy. Easily the best memoir to come out of South Asia in recent years, The Lucky Ones is essential reading for anyone who loves great writing, told true and straight as an arrow to the heart."

Suketu Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

"Blending lyrical writing and investigative reports, this is a necessary read - especially in these times of Islamophobia and genocide. This book is for anyone looking for rich portrayals of Muslim women -- as sisters, as mothers, as daughters, as protagonists of their own stories." 

Lamya H, Hijab Butch Blues

"In The Lucky Ones, she describes her relatives’ and neighbors’ terror under siege in unshrinking detail, naming the extremist hatred and violence that destroyed so many lives and remade her own. An astonishing feat of storytelling, an urgent reckoning with a past that feels all too present, and a moving ode to the women in her family, Chowdhary’s memoir is one that should and will haunt you."

Nicole Chung, A Living Remedy

"The Lucky Ones is a necessary, deep reckoning with history, identity, and violence. This memoir will break your heart and then repair it." 

Beth Nyugen, Owner of a Lonely Heart

"History may be written by the winners, but that is one reason it can never tell the truth, not all of it. The Lucky Ones by Zara Chowdhary is a lacerating, gorgeous, unsettling recuperation of national memory from the forces of oblivion. Her tale weaves together the most personal with the broadly communal and social, and by doing so she is able to give us the full and honest impact of the sectarian violence that tore apart Gujurat in 2002. She uncovers its roots and reveals, with shocking hope, what a vision for grace and kindness in the future may be. It is a lesson we as a species desperately need to learn. This book is a stunning achievement, beautiful and wise and visionary."

Kazim Ali, Northern Light

"Zara Chowdhary's stunning voice bursts from the page in cascades of violent flowers, singing out in love and rage for a country that has both shaped and turned on her. In exquisite, devastating language, Chowdhary tugs at each complex thread of India's social fabric until the illusion of a whole cloth unravels—a collapse made more devastating by the hope that preceded it. The Lucky Ones is an act of urgent political witness, a refusal to allow the brutalities of twenty years ago to be forgotten—and repeated—today." 

Tessa Hulls, Feeding Ghosts