P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Malavika Kannan, 2024


Malavika Kannan is the child of immigrants from India

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MFA in Literature at TBD

Malavika Kannan was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and grew up in Central Florida in a tightly knit community of Indian immigrant families. Her parents both emigrated from South India in the 1990s, and Malavika’s earliest memories include regular visits to the public library with her parents, putting on ridiculous plays with her sister, and listening to stories of Indian mythology from her grandparents. She has known she wants to be a writer for a very long time. 

Like many young people in Florida, Malavika grew up aware of the impacts of gun violence, police violence, and racism on her community. Her first consciously, proudly American experience occurred at 16, when she and her high school classmates organized a school-wide walkout against gun violence. As a teenager, Malavika organized safer, juster communities with organizations like March For Our Lives, the Women’s March, and Giffords. 

Malavika’s formative experiences as an organizer influence her writing, an art form she views as inherently political, imaginative, and community oriented. Malavika writes about identity, culture, and politics for The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, Refinery29, and The San Francisco Chronicle, amassing an audience of nearly 50,000 online.  

During the pandemic, Malavika began writing a young adult novel about a queer Indian American girl growing up, fighting violence, and finding love in Florida. That novel became All the Yellow Suns, a coming-of-age story published by Little & Brown in the summer of 2023. Malavika had the surreal experience of completing a five-stop book tour, being profiled by The Los Angeles Times, and seeing her book in the hands of girls all over.  

Now a senior at Stanford University, Malavika has immersed herself in creative writing, South Asian studies, and women’s literature, and will graduate with a BA in comparative studies in race & ethnicity, submitting two honors theses: a research thesis on Dalit women’s environmental writing, and a literary novel about college students during the pandemic. Malavika will pursue an MFA in fiction to hone her literary craft and prepare for a career as a novelist and professor of literature. She is grateful for all the opportunities she’s been given and hopes to continue writing queer brown girls into the narrative, and to make her family proud. 

  • BA Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Creative Writing | Stanford University 2024
  • MFA Literature | TBD
  • Francisco P. Lopes Prize for Best Paper in the Humanities
  • Frederick Douglass Global Fellow
  • Artist Fellow, Institute for Diversity in the Arts
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