Padma Shri awardee Sudha Murty is arguably one of the best writers of India. Along with prolific work in social service, entrepreneurship and teaching, she has also made significant contributions to English and Kannada literature. With her simplistic yet profound writing style and exploration of beauty in the mundane, her words have charmed their way into our hearts. Indeed, from her short stories making their way into our English textbooks to her novels that made us cry, she has surely made a deep impact on our minds. Today, we celebrate Sudha Murty and discuss her best works. Here we present to you 10 best books by Sudha Murty you should read.
List of 10 Best Books By Sudha Murty You Should Read:
Gently Falls the Bakula
This exploration of marriage, love and selfhood centres on Shrimati and Shrikant, neighbours in a small town called Hubli. These two are always at the top of the class, and eventually fall in love with each other. However, after they get married, things change. Shrikant begins to climb the corporate ladder, engulfed by ambition and greed. Shrimati, on the other hand, sacrifices her ambition to become a housewife, a mere shadow of Shrikant’s. A conversation with a professor, however, forces her to introspect, and what she finds is endless vacuum. The story then talks about her journey of self-exploration.
How I Taught My Grandmother to Read and Other Stories
This is a collection of twenty five short stories, each one moving and gentle. The titular story explores the lessons in language a granddaughter gives her illiterate grandmother. In another story, the author takes a train ride with the president of the country. A third story revolves around her experience as one of the first daring women to venture into the corporate world. In short, these stories are vignettes of Murty’s life, written with endearing innocence and simple beauty.
This novel of resilience and endurance tells the story of Anupama, afflicted with a skin condition called leukoderma. At the discovery of this disease, her picture perfect marriage falls apart, her in-laws act indifferently and insensitively and her mother taunts her. She is subjected to the humiliation of returning to her parents’ home after a failed marriage and lacks a support system. Under such circumstances, she leaves for Bombay, where she finds success and an unlikely friendship. This beautiful story makes a bold commentary on standing up for yourself and staying true to your identity despite the surrounding noise.
A novel that gives a new dimension to the ‘saas-bahu’ drama, this focusses on the life of a married couple, Girish and Vinuta. Vinuta’s mother-in-law, Gouramma constantly picks on her, but Vinuta handles the situation with care, respect and love. However, after Girish’s NRI brother gets married and Gouramma gets a ‘dollar bahu,’ constant comparisons steal Vinuta’s peace of mind. When Gouramma visits the US, however, she realises that love and respect cannot be bought with dollars. She must attempt to forge a new relationship with Vinuta, one based on love and mutual admiration.
Three Thousand Stitches
In this non-fiction anthology, Sudha Murty talks about important subjects – discrimination, alcoholism, conservatism, duty and more. In the title story which opens the anthology, describes the efforts of her foundation, Infosys and herself to get rid of the Devdasi tradition in Karnataka. Devdasis were temple prostitutes, and Murty’s attempts to help them and increase awareness about AIDS were rebuffed, sometimes violently. But she persisted, and today the tradition has been eradicated from Karnataka. These stories feel like slivers of hope – they are warm and sweet.
House of Cards
This is the story of a disillusioned marriage, where Mridula, a village girl falls for a poor doctor named Sanjay. However, after their marriage, Sanjay starts his own private practice and starts making money. Unsatisfied with that, however, he continues to remain greedy, selfish and materialistic. Realising that she doesn’t fit in the world around her, Mridula decides to leave the marriage in search of herself. Like many of Murty’s stories, this one is about a woman finding herself by daring to forsake her world of comfort.
Wise and Otherwise
A collection of short stories that are written in Murty’s poignant, heart-touching style, this novel gathers bits and pieces of love and hope from all over India. In a story, a tribal chief from the Sahyadris teaches the author about the art and joy of receiving. In a second, a son leaves his old man at an old age home claiming him to be a stranger. Yet another story talks about a sick woman on her deathbed who remembers and thanks her benefactor. In one, Murty talks about two teenagers on a flight who didn’t know the history of their own country. There are stories about a person who becomes optimistic after observing a beggar dance in the rain and about a man who lies about his connection with Murty to sell books to her foundation.
Here, There and Everywhere
Edited by Penguin, this anthology brings together Murty’s best loved stories. In her abounding literary career, Murty has written a huge number of short stories and essays. In this collection, the most moving ones have been complied for her fans. Featuring an eclectic bunch such as ‘A Life Unwritten,’ ‘A Line of Separation,’ and ‘Rahman’s Avva’ among others, this book will surely charm you.4
The Magic Drum and Other Favourite Stories
This is Sudha Murty’s short story collection for children, but it remains a favourite of even adults. Full of childlike simplicity, this collection includes stories of a “princess who thinks she is a bird, a coconut that costs a thousand rupees and a shepherd with a bag of words.” In the title story, a magic drum saves an old couple from a calamity. These whimsical stories bring to life Indian folktales, and other stories Murty’s grandparents recounted. Now, children (and adults) get to enjoy these as well,
The Mother I Never Knew
This book is a collection of two novellas, each connected thematically with a common quest of two men – a quest to find their mothers. The first one centres on Venkatesh, a bank manager who chances upon a lookalike. After intense probing, he discovers that his father had a dark past – a past with an abandoned wife and child. Venkatesh seeks out his stepmother, determined to make amends. The second novella is the story of Mukesh, and in ways the converse of the first. After his father’s death, Mukesh discovers that his is adopted. He searches for his biological mother, conflicted between his birth mother and the woman who raised him like her own.