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“As a little girl my imagination was sparked by stories fondly told about our monkey, Oma, who was part of our family.”

Children’s author

Imagination and magic

‘I didn’t grow up in a house full of books, but I did grow up in a house full of stories.’

What do I value in the natural world

‘I have an image of myself as a baby, born in a stable close to the foothills of the Himalaya – a sort of wild child.’

Jasbinder Bilan in conversation with Sita Brahmachari

Expanding on the significance of the objects displayed on her mantelpiece


Jasbinder Bilan is an award-winning children’s author of numerous magical realist middle-grade novels. Her debut Asha and the Spirit Bird (2019) won the Times Chickenhouse prize 2017, was short-listed for the Waterstones children’s book prize 2019 and went on to win the Costa children’s book award 2019. Her writing is inspired by her family roots in India and explores themes of friendship, family and hope. Tamarind and the Star of Ishta (2020) won the Indie book awards 2021 and the Calderdale school library awards 2021. Her latest novel Aarti and the Blue Gods (2021) explores connections between Eastern and Western mythologies.

Jasbinder contributed to The Book of Hopes (2020) a collection of stories, poems and illustrations edited by children’s author Katherine Rundell to bring joy and hope to children during the pandemic. She has been commissioned to write numerous articles for the Guardian and the Observer. She has spoken at many literature festivals including Edinburgh, Hay, Cheltenham and Charleston. In October 2022 she published her first non-fiction book for children India Incredible India (2022). She has been commissioned to write the text for the new Museum of London exhibition exploring London’s pre-history. Jasbinder is Patron for Young People at Somerset Arts. Her life-long work with young people is hugely important to her both as a teacher of English as well as an author.  Her latest book is Nush and the Stolen Emerald (2024).