Paulo Coelho? Dan Brown? J.K. Rowling? Stephen King? I’m sure a majority of you must have some or all of these Western writers in their favorite list. What’s shocking is that most people today ignore the bountiful wealth of Indian fiction, going instead for internationally renowned Western texts.
Here, we bring to you a list of some of the best known Indian books in English writing, something that should be a must in your reading list.
1. Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh
Shadow Line explores the boundaries of imagination and memories, revolving around a narrator who searches the meaning of his life while juggling between his past and the present. Padma Shree award winner writer Amitav Ghosh writes in a non-linear manner and the novel is set during the time period of independence struggle and post-colonial India, referring to nationalist movements and partition violence. Also, this book won the Sahitya Akademi Award (1989).
2. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Man Booker Prize Winner (2008), The White Tiger, narrates the story of the son of a rickshaw puller who becomes a chauffeur in the city, kills his employee and flees with their money, becoming a successful businessman in the end. Adiga highlights the class struggle existing in the globalized world in a funnier way, forcing the reader to keep turning the pages.
3. The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathy
A modern take on Indian mythology, The Shiva Trilogy will keep you glued to the pages. Amish redefines the life and adventures of Lord Shiva, giving him an all new makeover. Mythology has never been cooler!
4. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
One of the best novels of Rushdie, this book tells the story of children born at the midnight hour of India’s Independence Day. Set in the colonial period, it deals with the transition of India from a colonial nation to a free one. Though it has many controversies attached to it, but that is what makes it even more tempting.
5. The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Roy’s The God of Small Things stands as the most celebrated and appreciated novel, both nationally and internationally. Her debut novel, it won the Booker Prize in 1997. With a freshness of language, Roy delivers a tale of identical twins, separated at birth.
6. The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor
The Great Indian Novel is Tharoor’s satirical take on the Indian political system. Working on the storyline of Mahabharata and Hindu mythology, Tharoor remodels and recasts the Indian independence struggle period according to the great Epic. It’s a feast for the mind.
7. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Bringing an interesting twist to the otherwise conventional epic, Mahabharata, Chitra turns the patriarchal world upside down by narrating the same from a female point of view. Draupadi or Paanchali narrates the events in her voice, taking Hindu mythology to a completely different level.
8. Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
One of the most celebrated Indian authors, Khushwant Singh, pens down the dreadful India-Pakistan partition stretch and its political implications. This historical novel revolves around the story of a village and its residents, who are worst hit, being situated on the border of a once-integrated nation.
9. Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand
Addressing one of the most crucial social evils of pre-independent India, the caste system, Mulk Raj Anand brings up the argument on the eradication of the caste system. It describes one day in the life of an untouchable boy, Bakha.
10. Malgudi Days by R.K. Narayan
After reading this, you’d probably fall in love with its young protagonist, Swami. The best thing about Narayan’s writing is that he captures the true essence of rural colonial India. Moreover, the reader is forced to develop a connection with the protagonist. If you haven’t already read this masterpiece, hurry!
11. Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar
Cuckold is a historical novel by Kiran Nagarkar, set in the backdrop of the 16th century Rajput kingdom of Mewar, India. Giving a sneak peek into the royal life of the great warrior kings, this is a story of a man facing love, betrayal and loss. Kiran represents love in its raw form, something quite new for Indian readers.
12. A House or Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul
A novel by the legendary writer V.S. Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas stands out of the box with its anti-hero, who is both compelling and despicable. The book echoes the reminiscent perspectives of the colonial world.
13. Maximum City by Suketu Mehta
One can call it an insider’s guide to Mumbai. Taking the reader on a journey of this glamour city, Mehta unveils cover by cover the poverty stricken life of prostitutes and millions of other citizens. Something that remains hidden behind the sparkles of the Bollywood city.
14. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Now who hasn’t heard of him? I think his name is enough to recommend this book. Known as “the writer of his generation”, Vikram Seth leaves you mesmerized with his story of a post partition India. Though a long book, people often find it difficult to put it down.
15. The Inscrutable Americans by Anurag Mathur
Anurag Mathur brings up the cultural differences between East and west in such a way that will leave you gasping for breath. A hilarious take on the immigrants’ experiences, this is the story of a boy, Gopal, who faces upbringing crises.
16. Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer
The story of a Kashmiri boy, Curfewed Night will change your perception of Kashmir forever. Tragic and heartbreaking, it narrates the plight of a war-torn Kashmir.
17. Chronicles of a Corpse Bearer by Cyrus Mistry
Cyrus Mistry narrates a heartfelt account of the alienated and forgotten existence of the Mumbai Parsi community. Story of a forbidden love, it opens up one’s eyes towards this marginalized community.
18. The Lost Flamingoes of Mumbai by Siddharth Shanghvi
Narrating the predicament of the lives of Mumbaikars, Shanghvi wonderfully captures the true essence of Mumbai. An inside story into the lives of people who loose themselves into the hustle-bustle of this great city, often side lining their true selves.
19. English, August by Upmanyu Chatterjee
Bringing something that every common man can relate to, Upmanyu Chatterjee narrates an entertaining story of the workings of government offices and how nothing ever progresses there. It is aptly subtitled as “The Indian Story”.
All these (and many, many others) are great page turners. These are must on your bookshelves, something you cannot afford to miss.