I’ve been trying to read more books by Indian authors.
What I am trying to do is create a quintessential reading list of Indian authors that can provide a mental road map for Indian literature and can be used as a reference for anyone seeking stories that are rich in Indian culture.
- Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie: This book is a great example of magical realism, which is a style of writing that shows something almost unreal yet seems very real at the same time. Magic and other unnatural forces are part of reality in this story. It provides an account of the partition of India and Pakistan, a story of love across the religious divides during and after 1940s. The story weaves around a group of kids born at the exact moment and share a bond. It’s a unique concept but it feels grounded in reality.
- A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth: It is a panoramic and insightful treatise on twentieth century India, an adventure that embraces myriad family conflicts and political intrigues. Arranged into fifty-six parts, A Suitable Boy is unlikely to ever be matched for its grandeur. It is a massive success in terms of its literary style because the book encapsulates four years in the lives of an extended family, which comprises over five hundred people belonging to different segments of society.
- The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay: As Shalini’s life teeters on the brink of disaster, she faces a moment of reckoning when the past and present collide in an unexpected place. Told with compassion and understanding, in this novel Madhuri Vijay does what few Indian novelists have done before her: she brings us a view from the other side. The imagery of the mountains comes alive on the pages.
- Amnesty by Aravind Adiga: Amnesty is a story of human aspiration – the desire to live a successful, satisfying and dignified life. It follows Balram Halwai’s journey from anonymous village boy to entrepreneur and then into social reformer, forced on him by his experiences in the dark underbelly of the Indian business world. The turmoil of being an immigrant is expertly narrated, with his worries, anxieties, and small pleasures.
- Godaan by Munshi Premchand: Premchand is considered one of the greatest writers in modern Hindi. Godaan is a collection of four stories. The book is based on the life of a simple cow herder named Dhana, his family and friends. Godaan is a social satire. The story revolves around villagers who move to the city with high hopes but are then faced with everyday realities of life that are different from what they imagined them to be. The plight of the poor is all too real.
- Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara: This story is meant to be a work of fiction purely from the author’s imagination. However, it draws inspiration from real incidents and a spate of disappearances in metropolitan India over the past few years. It’s told from the viewpoint of children which gives the story a unique perspective.
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