Narratives about lives popularly regarded as successful or marked by significant achievements, written by celebrities or eminent public figures, have always been eagerly received by a wider reading public. However, writings by those at the margins have visibly toppled the conventions of this genre in the twentieth century. The latter’s inspirational accounts have recounted the histories of disenfranchized and discriminated lives and communities. And stirred, at the very least, the conscience of the world.
In the twenty-first century, the category is being mined anew to bring into our collective consciousness the testimonials of second or third-generation individuals from disempowered communities. They document the miniscule mobility of a handful of individuals while their communities largely continue to struggle—being stifled and suppressed, if not strung up. Born a Muslim belongs to this class of writings: it focuses on the lives of Muslim communities across India even as it weaves in the triumphs and tribulations of the author.