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Famous Indian Novels in English
Despite the popular belief that Indian novels are written in regional languages, there are numerous talented Indian English writers that you may not have known. From cultural conflicts, gender issues, to modernization, there are many captivating Indian novels that will make for great page-turners.
Here are a few of the best Indian Novels you should start reading right away!
The White Tiger by Aravid Adiga
Aravind Adiga’s debut novel is narrated through the eyes of a village boy named Balram Halwai. The novel presents the stark reality of India’s class struggle. It portrays the protagonist’s life as he moves to Delhi to work as a driver and elopes from thereafter killing his master for money. Adiga thereby examines the issues that prevailed in India like issues of caste, religion, corruption, poverty, and so on. The book gained more popularity recently as the movie based on the same was nominated for the Oscars.
Goat Days by Benyamin
This is the story of a middle-class family man Najeeb whose dream is to migrate to the Gulf for a better future. Without knowing the language or people he travels to the gulf only to end up in the desert of Saudi Arabia as a shepherd. While leading a slave-like life without seeing a single human other than his master, he finds solace in the fellowship of goats. A story of survival and dreams that you don’t want to miss out on!
Best Of Ruskin Bond- Ruskin Bond
An Indian author of British descent, Ruskin Bond is an iconic Indian writer whose novels are widely loved by both adults and children. His novels are often as fresh and beautiful as a soft summer breeze. This book is a collection of Bond’s 6 novels as it says, namely- The Room on the roof, Vagrants in the Valley, Delhi is not Far, A flight of pigeons, The Sensualist and A Handful of Nuts. From his childhood memories to travelogues charming tales that can certainly nourish your soul.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The Man Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy’s debut novel ‘The God of Small Things’ is all about family and social obligations. Set in Ayemenem, in Kerala, India, the story centres upon the childhood incidents of the twins Estha and Rahel. The novel clearly depicts the struggle between haves and haves not. In between the protests, Roy portrays an innocent romance between Ammu, an upper-class woman and Velutha, a man belonging to the lower-class. Roy questions the class system and clearly picturises it through her characters.
Journey to Ithaca by Anita Desai
The philosophical work of Anita Desai, carries the theme of the quest for one’s inner self and is portrayed through the journey of central characters Sophie, Matteo and Laila. Belonging to three different countries and cultures, the characters struggle a lot in their journey for spiritual revelation. If you are someone looking to read about spiritual experiences, this book is perfect.
Malgudi Days by R.K Narayan
Set in a fictional town Malgudi, each story is distinctly written and is distinguished by a simple way of writing style. From traders to beggars his stories reveal the chronicles of the daily life of ordinary people. Written over almost forty years, Malgudi Day is a classic Indian novel to get to know India a little better.
Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand
Written from his aunt’s experience of having a meal with a Muslim woman and the aftermath that she had to face from her family, Mulk Raj Anand explores his strong protest for the extermination of the caste system through this novel. The story goes through the eyes of the central character Bakha, a sweeper and an untouchable. Mulk Raj also criticizes the misdemeanor of upper-class people towards the lower class.
The Strange Case of Billy Biswas by Arun Joshi
This particular novel tells the tale of a US returned Indian, Billy Biswas who faces an existential crisis throughout his life. Arun Joshi clearly depicts the protagonist’s dislike to lead a modern way of life and the ways he adopts to elope from the civilized life. Although well-educated, Billy hates modernity and wishes to spend his life among the tribal people where he feels comfortable. A compelling and thought-provoking Indian novel that you will enjoy tremendously.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’ holds a mirror to the cultural history of India through magical realism. It conveys the clear depiction of India before and after independence which no other history books could provide. Humour, beauty and history are intertwined to add its charm. A novel that leans towards historical elements, Rushdie perfectly illuminated fantasy upon historical truth.
Ladies’ Coupe´ by Anita Nair
Anita Nair’s second novel ‘Ladies’ coupe revolves around Akhila, a 45-year-old single woman and her chance to get an encounter with five different women on a one-way ticket journey to Kanyakumari. Determined to carve meaning out of her hallowed existence, she ponders over questions of happiness and love. The women around her add rhythm to her broken thoughts, bringing life and its intricacies into sharp focus. The novel shares the importance of human emotions and relationships.
An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor
The prolific author and Politician, Shashi Tharoor, in his bestselling book divulges the catastrophic colonization of the British in India. The destruction of the Indian textile, steel-making and shipping industries, he examined the numerous ways with which British Empire exploited the nation. Perhaps this is the only book you might need to fathom how it was to live in India before independence in 1947.
Pashmina Novel by Nidhi Chanani
A beautifully written graphic novel that incorporates fantasy and reality. Priyanka is a teenage girl who is curious about the heritage and culture of her mother’s homeland. As she finds a mysterious Pashmina in an abandoned suitcase, she sets forth on her vivid and colourful journey.
The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph
Manu Joseph’s contemporary novels narrate the lives of a middle-class family from South India. After the seventeen-year-old son’s death, the father is on a quest to understand the life of his son that he missed out on when he was alive. A family drama fused with elements of satire, philosophy, and mystery worth your time.
Time for your action
Have you read any of these? What other books would you add in the list? Let me know in the comments
Always curious to hear from you,