11 Books by Indian Authors You Must Read

Updated on September 25, 2019
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Cicero said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” And I couldn’t agree more. Books are a life-saver in every situation. Indian English literature is rich with some award-winning and critically acclaimed masterpieces that every book lover should read. Here is a list of books by authors from India that everyone should read:

1. The White Tiger

The White Tiger is Man-Booker-Prize-winning debut novel by Arvind Adiga. It is widely acclaimed for its refreshing take on social class disparities in contemporary India. The book is an interesting first-person narrative told from the perspective of Balram Halwai, a young man from a poverty-stricken small village who moves to Delhi to work as a chauffeur for the elite. Balram successfully manages to ditch the life of servitude and became a successful entrepreneur. But the journey hasn't been easy and Balram has his own dark secrets.


There is no crime in anyone’s blood any more than there is goodness in the blood of others. Criminals are not born. They are made by hunger, want and injustice.

— Khushwant Singh, Train To Pakistan

2. Train to Pakistan

This historical novel by Khushwant Singh is based on the tragic events of the partition of India. It was released in 1956 and was widely acclaimed for bringing a human perspective to the partition of India into India and Pakistan. Most accounts of the partition at the time primarily focused on the political aspects, but Khushwant Singh retold the event focusing on the human loss and horror. The novel is set in a village during the times of partition where a peaceful and loving community transforms into one driven by hatred and fear. Train to Pakistan is an essential read for anyone looking to read more about the Partition of India.

3. The Guide

R.K. Narayan is among the most read and celebrated authors in Indian literature. Based in the famous fictional town of Malgudi in South India, The Guide follows the story of Railway Raju, a corrupt tour guide. Some odd turn of events led him to becoming a spiritual guide and eventually a revered holy man in the country. R.K. Narayan was awarded the 1960 Sahitya Akademi Award for English, by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters for this novel. The novel was also adapted into a blockbuster Bollywood movie starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman.

4. The God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy won the Booker-Prize for her debut novel 'The God of Small Things'. It is the story of a family in 1960's Kerala.The novel follows two fraternal twins Estha and Rahel, their parents and their extended family as they navigate life. This highly acclaimed work deals with a range of issues from the caste system to the state’s encounters with communism.

5. The Interpreter Of Maladies

'The Interpreter Of Maladies' by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of nine stories based on lives of Indians and Indian Americans who are lost between the two cultures. The won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award in the year 2000. This widely appreciated book has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.

6. Sacred Games

Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra is one of the most arresting English novels in India in the last decade. It draws the reader deep into the life of a cop,Inspector Sartaj Singh and into the criminal underworld of Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted gangster in India. The novel explores an astonishing modern city and its dark side.The novel was adapted into a very popular web series on Netflix starring Saif Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqi.

7. Immortals of Meluha

The Immortals of Meluha is the first novel of the Shiva trilogy series by Amish Tripathi. The story is set in the fabled land of Meluha and starts with the arrival of the Shiva. The subsequent books of the Shiva trilogy- 'Secret of the Nagas' and 'The Oath of The Vayuputras' make for an equally compelling read. Amish is undoubtedly the George RR Martin of India - a storyteller who with his modern retelling of Indian mythology took the Indian literary world by storm.

Amish Tripathi 'S Shiva Trilogy-nagas, Mehula & the Oath of the Vayuputras
Amish Tripathi 'S Shiva Trilogy-nagas, Mehula & the Oath of the Vayuputras

One of the best series I have read. Depicting gods as humans to show the struggles they go through and become the person we imagine they might be was a wonderful experience to read. If you are interested in mythology, this book is perfect for you and even if you don’t like mythology, the story is intriguing enough for keeping you engaged.

 

8. Palace of Illusions

'Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni recounts the story of the famous Indian epic Mahabharata from Draupadi's point of view. The book retells the story of Draupadi from birth to her marriage to five husbands and the subsequent journey of war and exile. It is a bold and sensuous story of a strong woman in a male-dominated world who was publicly humiliated in the royal assembly and seeks revenge. If you are even remotely interested in Indian mythology, then you are sure to enjoy this book. (However, there are minor deviations in the novel from the original Mahabharata.)

Love doesn't happen in an instant. It creeps up on you and then it turns your life upside down. It colors your waking moments, and fills your dreams. You begin to walk on air and see life in brilliant new shades. But it also brings with it a sweet agony, a delicious torture.

— Vikas Swarup, Q & A

9. Q & A

Q & A is a novel By Vikas Swarup that spawned the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. It tells the story of Ram Mohammad Thomas, a young waiter who becomes the biggest quiz show winner in history, only to be sent to prison after being accused of cheating. During the police interrogation, Ram Mohammed Thomas gives flashbacks of his life to explain to the police how he knew the answers to the show's questions. The novel was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

10. Malgudi Days

Inspired by random common people around him, R.K Narayan created ‘Malgudi Days’. It contains 32 stories about the daily life of people living in Malgudi, a fictional city located in South India. Filled with the pure spirit of India, this book makes for a delightful read.

Malgudi Days (Penguin Classics)
Malgudi Days (Penguin Classics)

This collection of short stories makes for a magnificent read. I had read a few as a part of school curriculum. It was lovely to reread the entire book and it made me feel so nostalgic. If you haven't read this book, you are missing a gem .

 

11. The Great Indian Novel

This satirical novel by Shashi Tharoor is one of the most exciting reads in contemporary Indian literature. It recreates the Hindu epic Mahabharata within the context of the Indian Independence Movement and its following decades. Recasting figures from India’s freedom struggle and politics as mythological characters from a 2,000-year-old epic, the book makes for a powerful read.

Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai - Guide - Lata Mangeshkar - HD

© 2019 Shaloo Walia

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    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      Thanks Devika!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      It is interesting to see Indian writers and that you accomplished a unique list of writers.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      7 weeks ago from India

      @Aurelio My pleasure!

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 weeks ago from Orange County, CA

      I am not familiar with Indian literature at all. Thanks for giving me a place to start.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      Yes, Nikki. Partition was really an unfortunate event in our history. Thousands died at the time and the bitterness in the two countries has led to so much bloodshed since then.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      2 months ago from London

      A good list of books to read Shaloo, would give them a go.

      ‘Sacred games’ is on Netflix and my husband loves to watch the series. I’m more interested in book ‘train to Pakistan’, seems quite interesting.

      I normally like to read and watch about partition period when thousands died just for the sake of freedom.

      Thanks for sharing dear!

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      @Brian hahaha...it's always difficult to choose between good books.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      2 months ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      It'll be difficult, Shaloo, for me to choose which of these works to first add to my to-read book pile.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      I am sure you will enjoy these books, Patricia.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      @Venkatachari ji Chandrakanta series is on my wishlist but the book is in Hindi. I am not very comfortable reading in Hindi. Would love to read an English translation if there is one.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      2 months ago from North Central Florida

      Being an avid reader I am always searching for new reads. I will be looking for these. Angels are on the way.ps

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting review of some very good books. I have watched the movie "Guide" during the early 80s perhaps. It was a great story.

      I have read the Shiva Trilogy series two books. Now, I am reading the third one. I read them very leisurely, contributing 45 minutes to one hour each day after lunch. So, each book takes one month to complete for me. I have read more than two dozens of books in two years. The whole Chandrakanta series also (8 books). I have all my books in hard copies in my racks.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      @Rinita It's difficult for me to decide on any one Ruskin Bond book. The ones I like the most are that of his children's books and so I have listed him in my hub ' Top Indian Authors your child must read'.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      2 months ago

      Good list but I would throw in a couple of Ruskin Bond gems in there :)

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      My pleasure Chitraganda. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Great selection of books, for those who may not be familiar with the Indian authors. I am glad that I have enjoyed reading most of them. The other recommendations by you, are surely in my to- read list.

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful and informative article.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      Thank you Linda. Excellent books to begin with. After you read The Guide, you may also consider watching it's movie adaptation. The movie is a classic and does complete justice to the book.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      Thank you Lora. Both the books are excellent to start with. I am sure you will enjoy reading them.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an interesting and informative article. I haven't heard of any of the books. I want to read all of them, but I'd like to start with "The Guide" and "The Interpreter of Maladies". They sound especially interesting.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      Thank you Prantika! R K Narayan's books are a delight to read. I have heard so much about Sacred Games Netflix series but yet to watch. Will try to watch it during this weekend.

    • Lora Hollings profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      2 months ago

      I will definitely have to add these books to my must read list after reading your compelling summaries! You certainly did an excellent job in relating the salient points of the plots in enticing any book lover to read these novels. I will start with "The White Tiger" and then "The Guide" eventually reading all of them to learn more about India's fascinating history and its mythology. Thanks for sharing!

    • Prantika Samanta profile image

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 months ago from Kolkata, India

      A great hub with a wonderful list of books. The Guide and Malgudi Days are my favorite. Some I have not yet read and are in my wishlist. I have watched both the seasons of Sacred Games. Thank you for the beautiful song. It's an all time favorite.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      Thank you Hari. I am sure you will enjoy reading the rest too.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      Thank you Eric.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 

      2 months ago from Bangalore

      Thanks for the short snippets. It definitely helped. I have read a few of them like Malgudi days, white tiger, mehula. Will try to pick the others from the library soon.

      Enjoyed this hub. :-)

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I am with Bill, I pick the White Tiger - first. Great how you do the reviews so concisely. That video is awesome. Thanks.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      You're welcome, Bill. The White Tiger is available on Amazon. Not sure about eBay.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for the recommendations. The White Tiger sounds interesting. I'll see if I can find it on ebay.

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