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Bali Rai
Born (1971-11-30) 30 November 1971 (age 51)
Leicester, Leicestershire, England
Occupation Novelist
Language English
Genre Young adult fiction
Notable works (Un)arranged Marriage, Rani and Sukh, Killing Honour

Bali Rai (born 30 November 1971) is an English author of children's and young adult fiction.

Early life

Rai was born in Leicester in 1971, to Punjabi parents. At the age of eleven, he read The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend, which inspired him to take up writing. He has also cited Roald Dahl as an early influence on his writing. He attended Judgemeadow Community College, moving to Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College for sixth form.

In 1991, Rai moved to London to study at Southbank University, graduating with a 2:1 in Politics. He stayed in London for two years after graduating, but was forced to return to Leicester due to personal circumstances. He had a number of jobs, including working for a supermarket, in telesales, and managing a bar. He began to write his first novel, (Un)arranged Marriage, during this period.

Writing career

Bali Rai showed parts of his debut novel, (Un)arranged Marriage, to literary agent Jennifer Luithlen, who agreed to represent him. Once the novel had been edited, Rai signed a contract with Transworld. The novel was published in 2001 to critical acclaim.

Rani & Sukh, which Rai described as a "true mash-up of Shakespeare, Bollywood and Punjabi folk tales", was published in 2004 and later became a GCSE set-text. He has also written several books for dyslexia-friendly publisher Barrington Stoke, such as Dream On and its sequel Game On. His work has been published in various anthologies, including the 2017 book Here I Stand, raising money and awareness for the human rights charity Amnesty International.

Rai has made appearances on television and radio to discuss racism, his writing, and promoting reading for pleasure. He has also been an ambassador for The Reading Agency's Reading Ahead programme, and was BookTrust's sixth online writer-in-residence. In 2019 he became an Ambassador for audiobook charity Listening Books.

In 2014, Rai received an honorary doctorate from De Montfort University in Leicester.


Year Award
2002 Angus Book Award, for (Un)arranged Marriage
2002 Leicester Children's Book Award, for (Un)arranged Marriage
2002 Stockport Schools' Book Award, for (Un)arranged Marriage
2004 Calderdale Book of the Year, for The Crew
2004 Leicester Children's Book Award, for The Crew
2004 North Lanarkshire Book Award, for (Un)arranged Marriage
2005 IBBY Sweden Silverstjärnor (Silver Star), for the Swedish translation of Rani and Sukh
2005 Redbridge Teenage Book Award, for Rani and Sukh
2006 Renfrewshire Teenage Book Award, for Rani and Sukh
2011 North East Teenage Book Award, for Killing Honour
2014 Honorary doctorate from De Montfort University, Leicester
2015 Leeds Book Award, for Web of Darkness
2015 Shropshire Teenage Book Award, for Web of Darkness
2015 Southern Schools Book Award, for Web of Darkness


  • (Un)arranged Marriage (2001)
  • The Crew (2003)
  • What's Your Problem? (2003)
  • Rani and Sukh (2004)
  • The Whisper (2005)
  • Dominoes and Other Stories (2005)
  • The Last Taboo (2006)
  • The Angel Collector (2007)
  • City of Ghosts (2009)
  • Killing Honour (2011)
  • The Guru and The King (2012)
  • Fire City (2012)
  • Demon Hunter (2012)
  • The Night Run (2014)
  • Kiss of Death (2014)
  • Web of Darkness (2014)
  • Tales from India (2017)

Soccer Squad series

  • Starting Eleven (2008)
  • Missing! (2008)
  • Stars! (2008)
  • Glory! (2008)

Tales from Devana High series

  • Concrete Chips (2004)
  • Sold as Seen (2005)
  • Jugglin' (2006)
  • Trouble (2013)
  • Secrets (2013)

Barrington Stoke

  • Dream On (2002)
  • Two Timer (2005)
  • Revenge of the Number Two (2007)
  • Are You Kidding? (2008)
  • Them and Us (2009)
  • The Gun (2011)
  • Shivers (2013)
  • Old Dog, New Tricks (2014)
  • Game On (2015), sequel to Dream On
  • The Harder They Fall (2017)


Bali Rai has contributed short stories to a number of anthologies, including:

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