Nope – Indian literature isn’t just Chetan Bhagat and the likes. In fact, India is teeming with unbelievably rich and beautiful prose collections. Often overlooked, though famous, are tiny bits and pieces of the culture we identify with, translated into words that surpass all expression. From the evergreen words of Tagore and Ray to newly emerging Amish and Divakaruni. This is a list of some famous works of Indian English literature everyone should read.
List of Famous Works Of Indian English Literature Everyone Should Read
Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
This list absolutely cannot not begin with the first Indian person to win the Nobel prize. Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry collection Gitanjali, is his apex of literary brilliance, and a culmination of all of his life’s wisdom. These “Song Offerings to the Creator” were originally written in Bengali, but translated into English by Tagore himself. Hence, they retain the original sentiment and essence of their indigenous version. Addressed to God, these poems use the motifs of Indian culture, such as the monsoons, chariots and more. This is a book that is meant to be poetry, but becomes a philosophy of life and a source of inexplicable solace because of its beauty.
The Palace of illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
This relatively recent novel is an exploration of the Indian epic Mahabharata from the perspective of a woman – Draupadi. This feminist take on the epic highlights the sorrows and exaltations, the pains and pleasures of being a royal woman in an ancient era. It brings to life Draupadi’s life and her choices, and what she suffers on account of them. In its essence, it is a celebration of womanhood – with all its glories and vices. This poignant tale will resonate with every woman, although we live in an era completely different from Draupadi’s. Rich in Indian imagery, this book is a meditation on love, loss, the consequences of our actions and what it really means to be a woman.
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Set in postcolonial India, this humungous novel brings to life the story of Lata, who is freshly out of college and must choose a suitor for herself. She has fallen in love with a Muslim boy, her mother wants her to marry a shoemaker and her brother’s wife wants Lata to marry her relative, a poet. Confused about who would be the most suitable for her, she must make a choice between her passion, stability and family. The story is replete with a refreshing host of other characters such as Maan, the irresponsible son of a wealthy zamindar who falls for an elderly courtesan and others. This novel shows India in its most vibrant sense – our culture, our way of thinking and our institutions of marriage and love.
The Last Song of Dusk by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
Written in exquisite lyrical prose which feels almost like poetry, Shanghvi tells a compelling story of Anuradha and her husband Vardhamaan. It describes their initial marital bliss and then the tragedy that leads to their estrangement. It then introduces a other characters, including a girl who can walk on water and her lover, the famed artist Khalil Muratta. Filled with emotion, passion and intensity, this novel will take you on a roller coaster ride of tumult. yet, at the same time, It will plunge you into serene depths of philosophical speculation with its stunning writing. And the last stanza, it will leave you at a loss for words. With this novel, Shanghvi has taken writing to a whole new level.
The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi
The first part of the acclaimed Shiva trilogy is a mythical speculation on the Hindu God Shiva. It describes Shiva as a mere man living a barbaric life. When he is summoned from the Manasarover lake to Bharat of those times by his destiny, a world of possibilities opens up for him. He meets the love of his life, Sati and his blue throat leads the people to believe him to be their saviour. Now, Shiva is forced to realize his destiny and battle evil to usher goodness into the beautiful land once again. This mythological fiction portrays God as a man with extraordinary qualities, but a man nonetheless.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
This winner of the Man Booker prize recounts the story of the twins Estha and Rahel in a small town in Kerala. It follows their lives as a tragedy shatters their idyllic childhood and alters their relationships forever. Roy’s supremacy lies in her language, she molds sentences to fit her ideas instead of letting language control her. She almost creates her own language, pairing adjectives, verbs and adverbs in the most unconventional way. The story is told from a child’s perspective. It is this that brings novelty, innocence and weirdly imaginative ideas and perspectives into it. This story will keep you feeling jitters for weeks after you’re done reading it.
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
The firs book in Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy is a mammoth historical fiction. Set in the years of the poppy war, the book follows the journey of several people all over the country as their lives intersect on board the Ibis ship. The main characters include Deeti, a poor village girl whose husband dies and Zachary, the octoroon second mate of the ship. There is also Neel Rattan Singh, a Rajah of Calcutta, deposed by the British. In addition, Jodu and Nob Kisaan Baboo who believes Zachary to be an avatar of Krishna propel the plot. This intricately woven ambitious trilogy will astound you and engage you like no other.
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