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Bali Rai (1971-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1971, in Leicester, England. Education: South-bank University, B.A. (political science; with honors), 1994. Hobbies and other interests: Soccer.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House UK, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Rd., London SW1V 2SA, England.


Writer. Former manager of bars and nightclubs in Leicester, England.

Honors Awards

South Lanarkshire Book Award shortlist, and North East Book Award shortlist, both 2001, and Wirral Paperback of the Year Award shortlist, Lancashire Book Award shortlist, Branford Boase Award shortlist, Leicester Book of the Year Award, Angus Book Award, and Stockport Schools Book Award, all 2002, all for (Un)arranged Marriage; Leicester, North Lanarkshire, and Calderdale Book Award shortlists, all for The Crew.


(Un)arranged Marriage, Corgi (London, England), 2001.

Dream On, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2002.

The Crew, Corgi (London, England), 2003.

What's Your Problem?, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2003.

Concrete Chips, Hodder (London, England), 2004.

Rani and Sukh, Corgi (London, England), 2004.

Author's works have been translated into eight languages.

Bali Rai


A college graduate with a political science degree who managed English nightclubs, novelist Bali Rai boasts an unusual background, especially when considering his success as a published author. He was raised in a Punjabi neighborhood in Leicester, England, where he began imaginative writing stories at age eight. After becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college, he found a job working as a nightclub manager. With nothing but a "distant dream of becoming the next Sue Townsend," as he stated on his Web site, Rai had his first young adult novel, (Un)arranged Marriage, published by Random House the year he turned thirty. Rai's literary successes have quickly expanded: within four years he could boast five published books, including two—Dream On and What's Your Problem?—that are geared toward reluctant readers. In praise of Rai's 2003 novel, The Crew, Independent reviewer Nicholas Tucker noted that, "written in streetwise dialect, this is a jewel of a book."

Dream On quickly captures the interest of young teens with its easy-to-read, heavily illustrated chapters that tell the story of fourteen-year-old Baljit. Baljit loves to play football—soccer in the United States—but because he is Asian his parents want him to accomplish something more significant with his life than becoming a professional athlete. When he is asked to participate in the soccer tryouts being held at nearby Leicester City, Baljit realizes that this is his big opportunity to prove his ability and he deceives his family in order to attend. Focusing on prejudice, cultural differences, and acceptance, Rai's story is set in the author's home town and vividly brings to life a world many British teens can identify with.

Leicester is also the setting for several other novels by Rai, among them (Un)Arranged Marriage and Rani and Sukh, the latter which follows a family conflict and its tragic aftermath through several generations. (Un)arranged Marriage, a semi-autobiographical novel that finds young teen Manjit frustrated by his controlling, alcoholic father's insistence on contracting a marriage for him when he turns seventeen. Desiring the freedoms of other British teens, Manny rebels against his father by dropping out of school and bringing shame upon his family within their closeknit Punjab community. While noting that Rai's protagonist acts in a fashion that is neither "courageous" nor "heroic," a reviewer for RedHotCurry.com praised Bai's novel for "tackl[ing] … many issues faced by British Asians—drug taking, alcoholism, stealing, truancy, … violence, and intolerance." Praising (Un)arranged Marriage as "very funny," Glasgow Herald contributor Anne Johnstone added that in his writing Rai "breaks a few taboos and offers a rare insight into British Asian culture."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Bookseller, January 16, 2004, review of Rani and Sukh.

Books for Keeps, July, 2003, review of The Crew, p. 27.

Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), August 22, 2001, Anne Johnstone, review of (Un)arranged Marriage, p. 14.

Independent (London, England), April 5, 2003, Nicholas Tucker, review of The Crew, p. 20.

Times Educational Supplement, May 17, 2002, Michael Thorn, review of Dream On, p. 12.


Bali Rai Home Page, http://www.balirai.com/ (March 18, 2004).

RedHotCurry.com, http://www.redhotcurry.com/ (February 6, 2004), Lopa Patel, review of (Un)arranged Marriage.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - Personal