One of the Best Books of the Month
(Harper’s Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, PureWow, Paste, Book Riot, Signature Reads, and The Chicago Review of Books)

A Most Anticipated Book of 2018
(Goodreads, Bustle, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, BookRiot, PopSugar, The Chicago Review of Books, Ms. Magazine, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Amazon’s March Spotlight Pick

“Incandescent…A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world.” ―Vogue

“Rao’s feminist commentary is particularly potent.” ―Entertainment Weekly

“A definite must-read for readers who love authors like Nadia Hashimi and Khaled Hosseini.” ―Bustle

“A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies.” ―The Huffington Post

“An unbelievably beautiful and harrowing story of friendship and devotion.” ―Book Riot

“Magnificent and heart-wrenching…. Readers of Rao’s vital, vibrant novel will not soon forget these two strong, driven young women.” ―BookPage

“A beautiful testament to female friendship.” ―PopSugar

“Girls Burn Brighter is the kind of book you open and fall into…Rao’s debut is a high achievement.” ―KQED, San Francisco

“Girls Burn Brighter is an absolutely stunning debut novel from an author you’ll want to follow for years to come.” ―Paste

“This debut novel is the perfect read for fans of Rupi Kaur.” ―Brit + Co

“Rao layers her debut novel with issues that face many young women worldwide, from street harassment and domestic abuse to oppressive societal norms.” ―Ms. Magazine

“A confident debut novel set in India and America about the unbreakable bond between two girls. From the menacing nooks of India’s underworld to the streets of Seattle, this searing novel traces the nuances of adulthood and the enduring power of childhood bonds.” ―The Chicago Review of Books

“Enchanting… The resplendent prose captures the nuances and intensity of two best friends on the brink of an uncertain and precarious adulthood… An incisive study of a friendship’s unbreakable bond.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This powerful, heart-wrenching novel and its two unforgettable heroines offer an extraordinary example of the strength that can be summoned in even the most terrible situations.” ―Booklist, starred review

“Highly recommended for book discussion groups, this tale of sacrifice, exploitation, and reclamation is not to be missed.” ―Library Journal, starred review

“Stirring…affecting…The narrative’s thematic consistency and emotional urgency will pull readers along.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Rao writes exquisite sentences…By the end of Girls Burn Brighter, Poornima and Savitha earn their places in the hearts of readers.” ―Woodbury Magazine

“This novel burnt up my weekend. With beautiful language, warm friendships, and vivid images, once I started reading I could not stop. It’s a story of struggle and survival. Female friendship is the lifeline.” ―Claire Cameron, author of The Bear and The Last Neanderthal

“Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao blew my heart up. Heart-shards everywhere. I am in awe of the warmth and humanity in this book, even as it explores some incredibly dark places. I’m going to be thinking about Girls Burn Brighter for a while, and you’re going to be hearing a lot about it.” ―Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky


“Raw, intense and mind-blowing; each sentence is soaked with the blood, sweat and tears of its characters. This collection is one of the most sublime and under-rated examples of literary fiction I have ever encountered. If you buy only one book this year, make it this one.”

– The Irish Times

“Absolutely impeccable, Woman joins other exquisite first multicultural collections including Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Violet Kupersmith’s The Frangipani Hotel, and Krys Lee’s Drifting House.”

– BookDragon (Starred)


– Vanity Fair

“Rich and intelligent, “An Unrestored Woman” crisscrosses generations of different faiths affected by the largest migration in human history. It shines a necessary light through the dark turmoil of that period in North India and Pakistan, illuminating the crevices of her characters’ inner lives.”

– San Francisco Chronicle

“Rao demonstrates her enormous power, summing up the complexities of an entire life in diamond-cut sharp scenes and dialogue.”

– New York Journal of Books

“[Rao’s] prose is a stunning set of contradictions. Short, simple sentences give an electrifying punch to the gut, making sections where Rao rises to the heights of lyricism all the more powerful…Through her characters, Rao delves into greater psychological complexity….Rao navigates the realities of race, marriage and identity in a way that feels intensely genuine. This story and the rest of the collection establish Rao as a writer with not only uncommon range, but a unique and powerful voice.”

– The Kansas City Star

“With a sophisticated sense of pacing and patience, the stories build on one another by focusing on how the actions of those in power affect vulnerable women and children on both sides of the divide…Stunning and relentless.”

– Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

“Shobha Rao writes, with equal power, of the turmoil and tragedy of Great Events, but also the small, intimate lives of those doomed to live through them.”

– Karen Joy Fowler (New York Times best-selling author of WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES)

“…An Unrestored Woman is as compelling to read as it is beautifully written.

– The Mercury News

“Magnificently unsettling and unexpectedly powerful….Every story stands alone, evocative and acutely thought-provoking, but characters recur, showing how the same events from a slightly different perspective are utterly at odds. If stories are how we give our experiences meaning, Shobha Rao demonstrates just how individual those meanings are, and thus the vital importance of compassion, empathy, and connection.”

– Marylebone Journal (UK)

“Rao’s raw and breathtaking short story collection is set against this epic canvas, yet her character studies are intimate.”

– Booklist (Starred)

“What an astonishing collection! Provoking, ferocious, moving, splendid, generous and essential. I seemed to finish the book in a different world than the one in which I began it.”

– Kelly Link (Author of GET IN TROUBLE)

“Shobha Rao has given us clear-eyed stories of intense ruptures and unexpected connections, searing violence and genuine love.”

– Nalini Jones (Author of WHAT YOU CALL WINTER)

“I tore through these stories, as fearful for these characters as if I’d known them my whole life.”

– Tania James (Author of THE TUSK THAT DID THE DAMAGE)