Although Hinduism in fantasy and other foreign literature remains a largely unexplored genre, there are a few gems that stand out. Today, we’ve compiled a list of these. These are some noticeable works where Hindu Mythology is used in books written by foreign authors. Some of these are fantasy, others are horror or science fiction. But they all have two things in common – they derive from Indian culture and mythology and they’re written by foreign authors.
10 Times Hindu Mythology Used In Books Written By Foreign Authors:
- Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
- River of Gods by Ian McDonald
- Tamastara or The Indian Nights by Tanith Lee
- The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
- Land of Hope and Glory by Geoffrey Wilson
- The Hammer of God by Arthur C Clarke
- Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn
- Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
- Ka by Roberto Calasso
- Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck
Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
This horror-mythology novel is set in Calcutta, amidst the cult of warrior goddess Kali. Our protagonist is Robert Luczak, who has been sent here to investigate the mysterious case of the reappearance of a poet who was thought dead. However, when Robert realizes that this rebirth has occurred due to a weird human sacrifice ceremony, things take a turn of the worse. Combining religion, mythology and culture with horror and fantasy, Simmons as crafted a masterpiece that deserves more recognition.
River of Gods by Ian McDonald
This title refers to our beloved Ganges, and the novel centres around it as well. The story goes as follows – India is approaching her centenary and ten people from different walks of live are soon to be united. All these people will be thrust together to help shape the destiny of the country. These nine characters include a prophet, a physicist, a gangster, a cop, a set designer and more. The plot is too detailed to list here, but trust us when we say that this book is worth a read.
Tamastara or The Indian Nights by Tanith Lee
This is a set of seven fantasy tales which explore the folklore of India. Rich in the culture that has withstood the test of time (and innumerable conquests), this collection explores the universe of thousands of gods and demons. Full of Indian motifs of arranged marriage, Bollywood and mythological philosophies of Dharma and Karma, this one’s a must read for all proud Indians (and inquisitive non-Indians).
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
This wonderful fantasy follows Maya, whose horoscope foretells a disastrous marriage. Her terrible horoscope has led to her alienation in her father’s kingdom and soon he arranges a marriage for political convenience for Maya. However, in her marriage with Prince Amar of Akaran, she finally discovers love, empathy and her own voice. The first book in thisduologyt follows Maya as she discovers her destiny, and you must read it to find out whether the prophecy is fulfilled. American bestselling author Roshani has truly outdone herself with this introduction to the duology.
Land of Hope and Glory by Geoffrey Wilson
Reversing colonialism, Wilson sets his fantasy-historical fiction story in an England ruled by the Indian empire of Rajthana. This is an alternative exploration of the battle of 1857, which was the first organized Indian uprising against the colonial regime. It follows Jack Casey, who is stuck in a dilemma. Either his beloved daughter will face a death sentence or he must fish out his best friend. In the latter case, he will send his friend to his death for rebelling. This exploration of Indian history is imbued with motifs of Indian mythology and is a must read.
The Hammer of God by Arthur C Clarke
This book isn’t heavily influenced by Hindu mythology as some others on this list are. However, the portrayal is so accurate and wonderful that we had to put in on our list. This is a science fiction novel featuring an imminent annihilation of the planet at the hands of a giant meteor. While some people choose to accept this as a sign from God, others are frantic to save humanity. Enter Captain Singh, who heads the starship Goalith, charged with redirecting the course of the meteor and stopping the annihilation.
Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn
Set in an alternate world kingdom called Dharia, this novel follows Aniri who sneaks out of the palace to meet her lover. She is the third daughter, and hence no one expects her to take on any royal responsibilities. She is only waiting for her elder sisters to marry so that she herself can settle down. However, when she gets a marriage proposal from a barbarian prince of the north, she is in a mix. She cant refuse the man due to an imminent threat of weapon war. So she decides to marry him, obtain the weapon and leave – so that she can save her kingdom and follow her heart. But soon she discovers that things are way more complex, and she may want something she never thought she would…
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
Combining science fiction with Hindu mythology in an interesting and never-seen before blend, Zelanzy has created a post-apocalyptic universe. On this colony planet, a bunch of men have made themselves immortal and established themselves as Hindu Gods. They face no opposition, except for a steely man, Siddhartha who is now the Mahasamatman. On the surface level of a revolutionary god rebelling against his celestial dictators, but the aspects of Hindu and Buddhist mythology make it super interesting.
Ka by Roberto Calasso
In this book, Calasso delves into the heart of Indian mythology and does with it what many have done with Greek mythology. He dissects it and explains myths, legends and folklore, all with a wonderful love and passion. From why Shiva carries his father’s skull to the origin of Death, this is the ultimate book to gain insight and to enjoy fantasy.
Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck
This story follows our protagonist Kelsey Hayes as she discovers than a 300 year old Indian curse has befallen her. Now she has to travel across the world to India and somehow conspire with a white tiger named Ren to break it. Teeming with Indian history, culture, traditions and religion, this one is a novel with thorough world building. We definitely believe that this one should be on your list!