Five Award-Winning Indian Women Writers in English

Updated on May 31, 2017
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Seema is a book lover and likes to read great fiction work. Reading enriches the soul and mind with the ability to transform the life.

Indian Writers Writing in the English Language

There is no shortage of Indian writers who write in English. Many of them have been highly commended for their work internationally. Examples of Indians writing in English can be found as far back as the 19th century with Toru Dutt, a female poet who wrote in English. However, it wasn't until the 20th century when Indian writers started getting International acclaim for their English language works. Rabindranath Tagore became the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his collection of poems named Gitanjali. R. K. Narayan, Salman Rusdie, V. S. Naipaul, and Arvind Adiga are some of the greats. But there are also many female writers who are making landmark achievements in the field of creative writing. This article includes top five Indian female writers who have been extremely successful writing in English.

1. Arundhati Roy

Man Booker Prize Winner Author- Arundhati Roy
Man Booker Prize Winner Author- Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

Fifty six-year-old Arundhati Roy came into limelight with her first novel, God of the Small Things. In 1997, at the age of 36, Roy won the prestigious Mans Booker Prize for fiction with this debut novel. The book is mostly about her early childhood experiences, and the setting of the novel is her village of Aymanam in Kerela, India.

Her deep understanding of child psychology, along with her subtle and sublime use of words and phrases make the book very interesting. Her questioning of gender bias, religious disharmony, and caste discrimination give it depth. Roy has also written various other nonfiction works which showcase her ideas on social and political issues. She actively asserts her ideas on social justice and political activism as well. She was awarded with Sydney Peace Prize in 2004 for her advocacy of social justice and efforts towards peaceful resolutions of regional, national, and international conflicts. In 2006 she was awarded the Sahitya Akademy Award for her collection of essays The Algebra of Infinite Justice, but she declined this most prestigious national award which is given for contributions in the field of literature. In 2011 she was awarded Norman Mailer Prize for distinguished writing.

2. Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri- Pulitzer Prize Winner
Jhumpa Lahiri- Pulitzer Prize Winner

Jhumpa Lahiri

Fifty-year-old Jhumpa Lahiri is an American writer whose family is from Bengal, India. Her real name is Nilanjana Sudeshna, but was called by her nickname "Jhumpa" because it was easier to pronounce. Her mixed feelings about her identity as represented in her Indian name, as well as the struggles she dealt with in an immigrant family inspired Gogol's character in The Namesake.

in 2000, at the age of 33, her first short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She was also awarded the Trans Atlantic Award from the Henfield Foundation (1993), the O. Henry Award for the short story "Interpreter of Maladies" (1999), and the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best Fiction Debut of the Year for the Interpreter of Maladies collection. Her first novel, The Namesake was published in 2003. It has also been adapted into a film by the same name. Her novel The Lowland was published in 2013, and was a nominee for the Man Booker Prize. Her Collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, was published in 2008. She was awarded The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award (2008) and the Asian American Literary Award (2009) for this work.

Official Video Trailer of the Movie 'Namesake'

3. Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai- Mans Booker Prize Winner
Kiran Desai- Mans Booker Prize Winner

Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai is a 45-year-old India-born American writer. She is the daughter of famous Indian writer Anita Desai. Kiran Desai won the 2006 Man Booker Prize for her International bestselling novel, The Inheritance of Loss. She became the youngest female writer to win Booker Prize at the age of 35. She was also awarded the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award for The Inheritance of Loss. Kiran Desai's first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard was published in 1998. This novel was widely appreciated and won Betty Trask Prize from the British Society of Authors in the same year. After eight years of work on her novel, she published The Inheritance of Loss in 2006. It was praised by critics as a keen and rich descriptive analysis of globalization, terrorism, and immigration. It is a novel that captures a world of people, and of cultures, forever on the move. Desai has also been awarded Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative arts.

4. Anita Desai

Anita Desai- A Prolific Indian English Writer
Anita Desai- A Prolific Indian English Writer

Anita Desai

Anita Desai is an Internationally well known Indian writer. She is 79 years old. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Desai also writes for the New York Review of Books. In 1993 she became a creative writing teacher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the proud mother of Man Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai. Anita Desai has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times:

  1. In 1980 she was shortlisted for this prestigious award for her novel Clear Light of Day.
  2. In 1984 she got nominated for her novel In Custody. In 1993 this novel was adapted into an English film by the same name. It won the 1994 President of India Gold Medal for Best Picture.
  3. In 1999 she was again shortlisted for the Booker prize for fiction Fasting, Feasting.

She received the Sahitya Akademi Award and Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize in 1978 for her novel Fire on the Mountain, and in 1983 she won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for The Village by the Sea: an Indian family story. Desai excels in evoking character and mood through visual images ranging from the meteorologic to the botanical in children's books. In 2014 she was decorated with one of the most prestigious civilian awards, the Padma Bhushan, by the Indian government for her contribution towards literature and creative writing.

5. Nayantara Sahgal

Nayantara Sehgal- A journalist and a Great Writer
Nayantara Sehgal- A journalist and a Great Writer

Nayantara Sahgal

Nayantara Sahgal is an 89-year-old Indian writer in English. Her fiction deals with India's affluent upper class society responding to the crises caused by political change. She was one of the first female Indian writers in English to receive wide recognition.

She has been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1986 for her novel Rich Like Us. Her fiction work revolves around the stories of personal conflict amid Indian political crises. Characters in her novel confront civil disorder, corruption, and oppression as well as personal family issues. Sahgal’s later novels, Plans for Departure (1985), Mistaken Identity (1988), and Lesser Breeds (2003), are set in colonial India. Her nonfiction work includes Relationship, Extracts from a Correspondence (1994), and Point of View: A Personal Response to Life, Literature, and Politics (1997), as well as several works on Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Nayantara Sahgal has been awarded the Sinclair Prize in 1985 for Rich Like Us and the Commonwealth Writers prize in 1987. She became a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1990.

Female Writers with Creative Skill and Intellectual Mind

These five female Indian writers are known for their creative fictional and nonfiction work in English. They write realistically, depicting a true picture of different realities of life. They are not just narrators but they also raise various issues of national and international importance. They are intellectuals with a great creative gift.


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    • noyagijju profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from India

      I read 'God of the Small Things' twice. It sure is a great work written by Arundhati Roy.

    • nehanatu86 profile image

      Petite Hubpages Fanatic 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

      I haven't read any books by the other authors in your hub yet. 'God of Small Things' has been on my to-read list.. like forever. I should pick it up soon.

    • noyagijju profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from India

      Thanks Neha to appreciate the are right. Jhumpa is brilliant and so are others...happy reading to u too

    • nehanatu86 profile image

      Petite Hubpages Fanatic 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

      Thank you for this hub Seema! It makes me really happy to see the growing crop of good Indian/Indian-origin authors today. I absolutely adore Jhumpa Lahiri's work. She makes the stories sound so personal and relatable. I became a fan when I first read 'Interpreter of Maladies'. And then 'Unaccustomed Earth' totally bowled me over. Isn't she brilliant? I've picked up some more of her works - The Lowland, Namesake. Can't wait to read them.

      Happy reading to you :)


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