Bombay Blues is

  • SABA-Award the winner of the 2015 South Asia Book Award
  • a Kirkus Reviews starred review book
  • a Horn Book top pick (Reading for Diwali 2017)
  • a Book Expo America Buzzbook 2014
  • nominated for the Kirkus Prize 2014
  • An SLJ Dark Horses/Pyrite Printz selection (the alternate Printz)
  • a 2015 Bang2Write Notable Diverse Book
  • a KPL Best Book of 2014
  • Bombay Blues/Bombay Spleen book/album launch official selections at the Zee/Jaipur Literature Festival 2015
  • Bombay Blues/Bombay Spleen book/album India release party a Mumbai Mirror pick of the day

Kirkus-Star-with-words“Long awaited, anticipated, likely to be debated: Dimple Lala is back. [Desai] Hidier quietly revolutionized YA literature with Born Confused (2002), and this sequel indicates she’s intent on a repeat… Dense, lyrical, full of neologic portmanteaus and wordplay (“magnifishence”; “candlecadabra”): This is a prose-poem meditation on love, family and homecoming … A journey worth making.

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Light blue touchpaper and retire: Bombay Blues crackles and burns like a fuse of gunpowder as Tanuja Desai Hidier again takes the coming of age novel to diasporic places it’s never been before.”

— William Dalrymple

“[A] lovingly detailed homage to Bombay… Once again, [Desai] Hidier delivers an immersive blend of introspection, external drama, and lyricism”

— Publishers Weekly

[Bombay Blues] retains the verve of [Born Confused]; still teeming with energy and music. If once in the past, NRIs were – or thought of themselves as – the “cool ones”, Bombay has its own buzz, with “antiparties”, “Kingfishers at Janata, dubstep at NoSoBoHo, a KFC landmark on Linking Road”…This isn’t the average NRI trawling for an exotic tale, but a discovery that there’s plenty of hipness happening in the Old Country; a chronicle of Bombay cool.

— Hindustan Times (from “Being Beige” Brunch Magazine feature by Anirudh Bhattacharyya, January 17, 2015)


“Deeply engaging.”

— Horn Book


“Created a role model when there wasn’t one.”

—Brown Girl Magazine (top ten roundup of South Asian women for International Women’s Day 2020; Tanuja included along with Mindy Kaling, Rupi Kaur, Jameela Jamil, Lilly Singh, Madame Gandhi, Deepica Mutyala, and Kavita Krishnan, as well as key historical firsts figures Noor Inayat Khan and suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh).

“Tanuja Desai Hidier is a cosmopolitan bringer of joy. With unflagging inventiveness, she makes literature that has the glamour of rock and roll, and rock and roll that has the richness of literature. Both her novel Bombay Blues and its companion album Bombay Spleen are irresistible, a totality through which Desai Hidier is making literature new again, and newly exciting.”

—Zachary Lazar, author of I Pity the Poor Immigrant and Sway

“Living between and betwixt worlds isn’t easy. Writing about it, even less so. That’s what makes Tanuja Desai Hidier’s Bombay Blues such a special book. Suspended between New York and a new Mumbai, she croons out the big questions without being ponderous, she mashes in the small, revealing details without being trite. It’s the Bombay blues with an electronica underbeat. There’s a groove for everybody in this mix.”

— Naresh Fernandes, author of Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age and City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay


“Chock-a-block with musical references as well as linguistic leaps of faith that only a musician could have pulled off.” 

—The Sunday Guardian (Bibliophiles Plug In” cover story by Aditya Mani Jha, October 3, 2015)

SABA-Award“The dense, chaotic, yet lyrical pulse of daily life in Bombay collides with the dissonant, hip-hop sensibility of affluent, urban Indian youth in this story of Dimple, a young Indian-American woman’s journey of self-discovery.”

—2015 South Asia Book Award announcement (Winner: Bombay Blues)

“From NYC to Bombay/Mumbai: Tanuja has masterfully created a landscape for her characters to navigate identity through art, music and relationships. Happy to see the return of my Born Confused namesake–the fictitious tabla-playing character of Karsh. People from all walks will find resonance in Bombay Blues as it addresses the evolution of cultures and the immigrant experience in a wonderfully lyrical manner.”

—Karsh Kale (musician, producer)

“Bombay casts [the characters] through a dazzling kaleidoscope of mores and cultural mashups that leave [heroine] Dimple spinning—thin laptops lying beside the sacred Bhagavat Gita, drugs in alcohol-free clubs. Where is the land of Gandhi? At one point, Dimple wonders, “If the real India … wasn’t even in India? But rather, among the diasporic denizens of other places?” Bombay Blues is a far more sophisticated book than Born Confused. Its task is greater: To portray a place where homosexuality is illegal and arranged marriages are common, while a vibrant young generation maneuvers in and around such restrictions … The pacing is rapid, with [Desai] Hidier’s snappy dialogue and insider jokes propelling the reader through more than 500 pages. Highly recommended.”


“The sensory-filled narration is deeply engaging.”

Horn Book Guide (Jennifer M. Brander, fall 2015)


“Dimple is back–two years older, confused in new and enticing ways. Enter this novel’s gates and you’re in for a treat—a gorgeous, bluesy meditation on family, belonging, loss, love and destiny.”

—Marina Budhos, author of Ask Me No Questions and Tell Us We’re Home

“Bombay Blues is a color-splashed, rollicking ride of a read through the twisting byways, soaring heights and hard falls back to earth of 19-year-old Dimple Lala’s heart-testing journey home to India… Unflinchingly open, irrepressibly passionate Dimple is an unforgettable character: a young Indian American woman proud to be brown and determined to turn the blues of figuring out where you belong into a syncopated jam session of new connections and discoveries.”

—Mira Kamdar, author of Motiba’s Tattoos and Planet India

“Visits to Bombay locales, temples, and landmarks add vivid authenticity to this middle-class story of self-discovery. Dimple narrates the ups and downs of her spiritual, cultural, sexual, and social journey in a challenging, often rhythmic “blues” style of inventive words, elliptical phrasing, colors, music, and artistic references… Exploring Bombay becomes a liberating metaphor for expressing passions and establishing beliefs.”


“A thorough and lyrical account of [heroine Dimple Lala’s] journey … Bombay Blues is dense and complicated—[but] whatever work you put into understanding the book will be gifted back to you two-fold in the smart and poignant story that emerges. Bombay Blues also doesn’t shy away from being fully contemporary, a rarity in both YA and adult books these days. The story of the younger generation pushing against the expectations of their parents is one that is as old as narrative itself, but it finds new life in these pages, in this world where social media and the internet co-exist along arranged marriages and harsh penalties for homosexuality. In a year of outcry against the lack of diversity in YA publishing, [Bombay Blues] is exactly the kind of book that breaks that cycle—a rare one in the scope of literature, and even rarer for it being told so unflinchingly. In addition to being beautifully written, [Bombay Blues] also offers the greatest gift a book can give you: to make you think.”


“The magnificent sequel to Tanuja Desai Hidier’s first novel, Born Confused, [Bombay Blues] reads wonderfully as an independent novel. Heartwarming and heartbreaking… One of the most thought-provoking novels I have ever read… Hopefully there are more books from Hidier to come — Dimple’s story simply isn’t finished being told.”


“The author of the highly regarded Born Confused (2002) continues the story of Dimple and Karsh in this complex follow-up. Because of Dimple’s photographer’s eye, this is a book rich in colors and images… Dimple’s introspection is vividly experienced by a free-association narration that places the reader deep in her head… The journey continues.”


…An experience that is ultimately immense…this hypnosis cast by words and music is a vortex we might be tempted never to leave.

—Homegrown (on Bombay Blues/Spleen)

“Tanuja Desai Hidier’s first novel Born Confused gave a whole generation of young women a voice. Bombay Blues turns that voice into a powerful roar.”

—Nerm Chauhan (BBC Radio, Shiva Soundsystem)


“Intricately crafted.”

—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (by Karen Coats, October 2014)

“The musically brimming, visually powerful and emotionally intense journey of pioneering classic novel Born Confused’s Dimple Lala and Karsh Kapoor, now sojourning from NYC to motherland India, continues in not only the buzzworthy culture-capture sequel Bombay Blues–but sonically as well with Tanuja’s dynamic accompanying soundtrack of original songs: Bombay Spleen. The album is rhythmically heavy, lyrically sharp, and –though it can be savored independently–is an absolute must for readers, bringing as it does the entire tale’s world to your ears.”

—DJ Rekha

“With thoughtful prose and a captivating stream-of-consciousness narrative, Desai Hidier captures the flavour of a manic and vivacious city like Bombay. There’s a wonderful rhythm to her writing, a musicality and playfulness… A compelling read and a richly layered text.”  

Helter Skelter (from “Myth and Memory” cover story on Tanuja by Aadya Shah, April 8, 2015)

“Just amazing. Tanuja Desai Hidier is the Indian Francesca Lia Block.”

–Kevin King (judge, 2015 South Asia Book Award/Kalamazoo Public Library)

“Lush, multi-nuanced prose undulates to a bhangra beat in Tanuja Desai Hidier’s extraordinary novel, Bombay Blues. The reader is drawn irresistibly to heroine Dimple Lala, whose photographer’s eye records the dancing kaleidoscope of images that is modern Bombay. This young Indian American woman’s journey of self-discovery and self- revelation is also one of intersections—connections made, connections missed, distinctions blurred. For centuries, people have traveled to India in search of spiritual guidance and wisdom. Even a twenty-first century seeker, enmeshed in the complexities of a world in transition, can find the ineffable here, the fundamental Truth that underlies all things. It is extremely rare to find a writer whose gift with language melds perfectly with her milieu and yet whose message is profoundly universal. Tanuja Desai Hidier is such a writer.”

—Katherine Mervis (judge, 2015 South Asia Book Award)

“This is music in book form … a beautiful tale of identity. What does it mean to be Indian in America was Dimple’s question in Born Confused; here, the underlying question is what does it mean to be American in India, but also Indian. This is a love story for a country, a culture, and a sexy guy…for the reader it touches it will be a significant work. And it’s just gorgeous.”

—SLJ Dark Horses/ Pyrite Printz selection (“Someday My Printz will Come” by Karyn Silverman)

“Hidier’s 2002 Born Confused brought the memorable and feisty character of Dimple Lala, and she returns in full form in Bombay Blues… When reading Hidier’s lyrical prose, I found myself drifting away to times when I was reading Life of Pi in college as Hidier shares Yann Martel’s gift for lively descriptions of exotic settings. One to watch, Tanuja Desai Hidier is here to stay.”

—Reviews Coming Atya

“Another brightly chiaroscuroed, strobe-lit stream-of-consciousness dip into the land of the Lala, Bombay Blues is a non-stop slog to another level of maturity for our girl Dimple…The vast breadth of this novel — the stream-of-consciousness, blow-by-blow, tell-every-thought — gives the reader the feeling of really being there”  

—Turning Pages/YABlogSpot

“The most meaningful book I have ever read.”
Journal of Language and Literacy Education (Spring 2015), Student Review (Deonna Hensley)

“In Bombay Blues, the adult sequel to the acclaimed young adult debut novel, Born Confused, multi-talented author Tanuja Desai Hidier takes her heroine, Dimple Lala to explore Mumbai and everything that it means… With its accompanying unique album of [her] original songs called Bombay Spleen, based on themes in the book, Tanuja Desai Hidier has been credited with creating an intellectually stimulating literary and musical multicultural landscape – capturing the hopes, questions and truths of the young diasporal experience through her heroine, Dimple Lala.”
—Libas International (from “Losing Your Map by Nishita Sharma, Volume 28 Issue 2, 2015)

“An intriguing story that kept me wanting more… If you were a fan of Born Confused, I highly recommend picking up Bombay Blues with a copy of Tanuja’s accompanying album Bombay Spleen. And if you haven’t read Born Confused yet, order both books, because I know young South Asian American women can attest to how meaningful the book was and is to our growing up years.”

—Brown Girl Magazine

“A born writer who makes it look so easy. Full of a rare energy that creates and binds our thought process.”

Shanker Raman, filmmaker

“… [Bombay Blues] is a story about journeys internal and external– in search of ‘home.’ I loved Dimple in Born Confused …in Bombay Blues, Dimple again invites us to ride along in rick, tuk tuk, on foot or by taxi through the maze that is Bombay…. Two years have given her stream of consciousness a more mature feeling, so her language is much more lyrical with incredible alliteration, wonderful word play, and poetic imagery. Hidier holds the reader spellbound as she perfectly catches all the tensions, all the confusions, all the jealousies, all the happiness that make up a novel about family, friendships, relationships, identity. All the while, she conjures up the sight, sounds and smells of Bombay, creating a lovely aromatic and musical reading experience. If you haven’t read Born Confused, that doesn’t mean you can’t read Bombay Blues. It does work as a standalone novel. And, it is another big book…but if you stick to it, to the end, you will be rewarded with a reading experience you won’t soon forget. Besides, don’t you just love the name Dimple Lala?”

—Randomly Reading (India, January 4, 2015)

“Dimple is wide-eyed and spirited, and her excitement for India jumps through the pages of Bombay Blues. It is easy for readers of any age to relate to Dimple because…the foundation of her story is a universal one. Regardless of culture, Dimple is a person in search of home like all of us. She moves through her adventure in India in an open-ended search—unsure of what she is looking for, but knowing it has to be found. Inevitably, reading this book leads us to reflect on our own personal journeys: how we must keep getting ‘lost’ in order to find ourselves, learning to live in our skin, shifting between cultures, time frames, relationships, family, and friends, and between ‘shoulds’ and ‘wants.’”

Khabar Magazine (“Dimple’s Blues In Bombay” by Devika Rao, August 2016)

“Tanuja Desai Hidier is the epitome of South Asian American artistic achievement. Renowned author of the first South Asian [American] coming of age Young Adult novel, Born Confused, she has brought to light the internal dialogue of so many western-born South Asians as they navigate the mixed waters of their heritage and the culture they live in.“

Masala Mommas (“On Writing and Diversity in Literature” by Sheryl Parbhoo, October 5, 2016)

“Both [Born Confused and Bombay Blues] are fantastic fever dreams of books, with deep, funny characterization and tons of heart.”

Friend of Dorothy Wilde  (“Spotlight: On the Side: Kavita from Born Confused and Bombay Blues”, December 2016)

“Bombay Blues takes us through Dimple’s revelations in life as she uses her camera as an extra eye to look at Bombay… [her] relationship with Karsh, and her relatives and friends is wonderfully portrayed in the book…[which] weaves many a parallel tales but keeps Dimple’s narrative as the main focus. The description of Bombay is amazing and…makes you want to visit the place. Read the book to understand Bombay from an NRI’s perspective. The human emotions and a philosophical take on life are weaved into an interesting storyline.”

—Indian Moms Connect: Conversations on Motherhood (India, February 8, 2015)

“Beginning Bombay Blues is similar to falling in love. Hidier takes us not only on a voyage through the smells, textures and colors of Mumbai, but also on journeys of love:…first love, love at first sight, planned love as well as love of family, country and aesthetics…Each character we encounter is a work of balance. As they lose one part of themselves, they gain another. This happens not once, but over and over throughout the 560 pages of our tale. As Dimple explores and photographs Mumbai and the surrounding towns, readers are treated to snapshots of her trip, her heart and the sum of her parts…Students who read to explore the world around them will enjoy Bombay Blues. The novel is poetic and cerebral; understanding the story means delving into the head of a displaced college student who loses her map—to Mumbai and her life.”

—Journal of Language and Literacy Education (Spring 2015), Educator Review (Helene Halstead, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA)

“That Tanuja Desai Hidier’s novels are imbued with an undeniable sense of rhythm and melody is not a surprise: Hidier is also a singer-songwriter. Her new album Bombay Spleen is in fact based on her newest book Bombay Blues, which updates the story of Dimple Lala, the now-19 Indian-American protagonist of Hidier’s earlier YA work Born Confused.”

—The Writer Magazine (“How I Write” feature/interview by Jeff Tamarkin, 2014)

Both [Tanuja’s] novels are wonderful multicultural efforts… Her life’s job is a multifaceted arts project. Can you imagine some of your most independent and creative students doing a project around the characters, themes, symbols, music, and cultural allusions in Hidier’s work? The possibilities would be undeniably joyful.”

—Dr Bickmore’s YA Wednesdays (Music & YA Literature feature, November 2, 2016)

“Hidier’s debut novel Born Confused made waves across the globe…[Bombay Blues] surpasses its predecessor…captures a new generation seeking to break barriers …Through the pages of Born Confused, Hidier awakened a new generation that was invisible—instructing them to speak, to be heard, to be seen. Bombay Blues throws that new generation into a tornado of challenging complexities to test their strength.”

–Global Fashion Flare


“[Dimple’s] exploration of the teeming wonders of Bombay and her reflections on desires and behavior are conveyed through a dizzying blend of inventive intercultural hip-hop terminology that is intricately crafted… Readers willing to suspend the need to make complete sense of her lush language and submit instead to its mellifluous sounds will share Dimple’s experience of sensory overload and identity fusion and confusion, and that may be enough for those desperate to know what happened to Dimple after Born Confused.”

—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (by Karen Coats, October 2014)


“A wonderfully witty sequel that both breaks and warms the heart in equal measure. Leaves you yearning for more.”

—Monisha Rajesh, author of Around India in 80 Trains


“I remember reading Born Confused and thinking, “This is it! This book is about me!” It was as if my own awakenings, confusions and dreams were all wrapped into heroine Dimple Lala. Today, as an expat artist who’s been laying foundations in India for the last eight years, building an independent art and culture scene from scratch, I’m so excited for the numerous ways art will undoubtedly, synchronously, imitate life — and life, art —in all their brilliance through the journey of Dimple’s arrival to my now hometown in the long-awaited sequel, Bombay Blues!”

—Monica Dogra (singer, actor)

“I can’t believe [Tanuja Desai Hidier] made me wait twelve years…but it was worth it!”

—HotelSongs (top 5 books)