Coming March 3, 2020

[A Novel] Mira Books Harper Collins Publishers

[A Novel] Mira Books Harper Collins Publishers

[A Novel] Mira Books Harper Collins Publishers [A Novel] Mira Books Harper Collins Publishers [A Novel] Mira Books Harper Collins Publishers


“[An] eloquent debut…Joshi’s evocative descriptions capture India’s sensory ambience (horse-drawn tongas, pungent cooking fires and incense, and colorful saris), drawing readers deep into her moving story. Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love. 


"Joshi has constructed a bewitching glimpse into the not-so-distant past with a tough heroine well worth cheering on."


"Joshi's prose is rhythmic and alluring, and her characters are multidimensional and alive. This is a novel of hope, ambition and healing.."


"An uplifting tale that highlights the power of family."

Book Events in Bay Area

Feb. 21: Spring Fling Henna Conference, Hayward, California


Elevating the art of henna & book reading at conference for Henna Artists.

March 24: National Book Launch, Pacific Grove


In Conversation with Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Sitar/Dance Performance & Book Signing in Pacific Grove, March 24, 6pm

March 31: Keplers/Menlo Park


In Conversation with Anita Amirrezvani & Book Signing, Keplers, Menlo Park, 7:30pm

April 4: Literary Orange Conference

Panel Discussion: The Art of Discovery. With authors Shilpi Somaya Gowda and Charles Yu.

Panel discussion: The Art of Discovery. With authors Shilpa Gowda and Charles Yu.

April 8: Book Passage/Ferry Building, San Francisco


In Conversation with Tom Barbash & Book Signing at Book Passage, SF Ferry Building, 6pm

Canadian Tour: Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary


March 13-15  and April 16-19

Praise for The Henna Artist


The henna artist at the core of Alka Joshi’s superb first novel is unforgettable. Through her work painting henna onto women's bodies in the boudoirs of the upper class as well as in the hovels of the poor, Lakshmi brings us face to face with the complexity of life in post-independence India. Her plans for self-sufficiency, which are as artful as her designs, have us cheering for her even as she encounters obstacles that threaten to destroy her. Read this book slowly and savor it: Every page is rich with intricate pleasures for both the mind and the heart.

Anita Amirrezvani

Bestselling Author of The Blood of Flowers and Equal of the Sun


The Henna Artist is like a brilliant, magical kaleidoscope, bursting with color. Through her vivid, compelling portrait of one woman's struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, debut novelist Alka Joshi opens a door into a world that is at once lush, fascinating, stark, and cruel. "The Henna Artist" kept me riveted from start to finish, consumed by the question posed by all great fiction: what happens next?

Lauren Belfer

New York Times Bestselling author of And After the Fire and City of Light


Alka Joshi is a remarkable new writer with the novelistic gifts of a seasoned veteran. The Henna Artist  is a bold, ambitious, beautifully written novel, about India in the decade after independence, and about class, identity, love, and deceit. The broad cast of characters will etch themselves in your psyche, most of all Lakshmi and Radha—both cursed and gifted by fate.

Tom Barbash

New York Times Bestselling author of Stay Up With Me and Dakota Winters

About Alka Joshi


Born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, Alka has lived in the U.S. since the age of nine. She graduated from Stanford University and worked in the fields of advertising and PR before starting her own marketing consultancy. In 2011, she obtained her MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of Arts in San Francisco, California. The Henna Artist is her first novel. 

Alka shares her writing and publishing process on her YouTube channel:

What is the novel about?

Escaping from an arranged and abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone from her 1950s rural village to the vibrant pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the henna artist—and confidante—most in demand to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.


There's much to see here. So, take your time, look around, and learn all there is to know about us. We hope you enjoy our site and take a moment to drop us a line.


You can self-publish or choose to sell your book to a major publisher. I did the latter (Harper Collins/Mira Books imprint) and here's what I learned.


How do you find a good literary agent? Here's what I learned about getting a good one and listening to them.


Every writer I know has self-doubt. Why am I writing something no one has asked for? What am I doing? Is this any good? Spoiler alert: You can use that self-doubt to make your work better!


Thinking of enrolling in a writing workshop or an MFA program? Make sure you're studying with teachers who have published recently.

Buy THE HENNA ARTIST at these fabulous places:



Barnes & Noble

Books a Million



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Learn more about Alka, the novel, and public readings...

Instagram: @thealkajoshi

WhatsApp: +1 650-224-7580