Must-Read Books By Indian Authors
India is home to one of the most influential artists and writers. Despite the diverse language base of our country, we have a firm command of the English language. Post colonisation, Indian English Literature has taken up a unique status in the world of literature. Because of our rich cultural heritage, our novels and books hold a heavy significance that reflects our culture, tradition and social values.
I’ve rounded up a list of India’s greatest authors and their contributions to literature to get started. Before we delve into their must-read books, let’s understand their writing styles and why their writings are so significant.
- Ramachandra Guha
He is a historian, an author and a public intellectual. Known as India’s best non-fiction writer by the New York Times, Guha has carved a niche for himself in the non-fiction world of Indian literature. Among the various books he has written, India After Gandhi is one of his finest works. If you are a budding writer, his books will give you an idea of the right way to research any topic and how to convert bits and pieces of information into a story!
India After Gandhi
Known as one of the most accurate representations of India post-independence, this book will leave you flipping pages. Unlike a typical history book or a Wikipedia page, Ramchandra Guha beautifully entrusts the stories in a tight, unbiased and highly engaging manner. His writing style takes you through history as a guide and keeps the language accessible to readers of any level.
- Ruskin Bond
One of India’s literary legends, Ruskin Bond’s short stories and books have influenced people over a span of six decades. A lot can be taken from Bond’s writing style, his highly simplistic and conversational writing style, his stories have carved an arc in literature, schooling young children of the country. No matter what type of book he writes, all of it holds a fresh, feel-good factor which brings clarity to all his prose. He believes not to make his readers “toil and sweat” but enjoy the experience of picking a book while reading.
The Room on the Roof
A book about a young orphan boy in the cold mountains of Dehradun, this semi-autobiographical work by Bond adds a layer of freshness to a rather sad story of rebellion covering the dark sides of teenage rebellion, crime, and drama, amongst other things. The entire story has a very rustic feel thanks to the hilly regions, post-independence feeling, etc.
- Jhumpa Lahiri
A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Nilanjana Sudeshna “Jhumpa” Lahiri is an author who writes short stories, essays and novels in both English and Italian. Hailing from Calcutta, her stories portray rich Indian and Indian-American cultures. On the writing front, Lahiri avoids using figurative language, complex words and confusing sentence structures. She likes to keep her language lucid and bring forth a sense of imagination (picture) in the minds of the readers.
If you are a writer, reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s books will help you gain a psychological perspective on creating a transparent image/world in the readers’ minds.
The Namesake is a story of an immigrant family trying to pave their way in a completely different land. This is very closely related to her life story as her parents migrated to the United States when she was very young. The story is written from a very sympathetic point of view. When American culture influenced the typical Bengali family, a mammoth of emotionally complex changes happened. Lahiri uses everyday language to create emotionally complex scenes to connect with the readers on a sympathetic level.
- Satyajit Ray
The man who needs no introduction at all, one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, a skilled writer, an illustrator, and an artistic visionary. He was the flagbearer for Bengali literature and introduced the art of neo-realism through his prose. He wrote several short stories and mystery novels. He had a few unique forms of storytelling. For example, Ray often wrote books where a story is told within a story. If I had to mention his writing style in three words, it would be simple, colloquial and down to earth.
The Complete Adventures of Feluda
A gripping story of crime, where we see the central character unfold the mystery with his partner. It has a highly engaging narrative where they use skill and intelligence to solve puzzles. All the characters in his story go through a metamorphosis of change throughout the storyline. For all budding writers, reading a classic Satyajit Ray story, one can understand how to work on character development, dialogue and pacing.
- Vikram Seth
One of the most versatile writers in Indian literature; his expertise ranges to a variety of genres from mystery to romance and separation. He is also an excellent storyteller and a poet. With a stronghold in the English language, Seth uses a lot of irony, pictorial imagination and a joyful tone in his writing. Vikram Seth is truly a master of art and narrative!
The Suitable Boy
This story, set in Varanasi, is a love story of the quest to find a Suitable Boy for the title character. His writing in this book uses many inner monologues of characters with a witty narrative; even though he uses a lot of irony while storytelling, his descriptions about a commoner’s life bring out the absolute reality.
We have chosen a mix of different genres, writing styles, and some of India’s finest minds in this list. There are many more books that you can check out and take inspiration from. Happy reading!