India, a country that boasts of epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, has been eclipsed by commercial fiction books written by western authors till very recently. However, the scenario of the amazing world of books in India has taken a turn for the better in recent times.
The space in the book shelves is no longer dominated by western authors. You will find that this space is slowly being taken over by the Indian authors who have made for themselves a niche in the world that was eclipsed by the works of foreign authors. They are not afraid to experiment and sometimes, even share their most personal experiences, which young readers in India can easily relate to because of the same cultural background.
Here are a few of the many versatile authors of India, who have contributed to wonderful world of books, categorised according to the genres that they are famous for.
Suzanna Arundhati Roy, from Shillong, Meghalaya, is one of the foremost Indian authors, who is also a political activist involved in human rights and environmental causes. Arundhati has published a breadth of non-functional writing as a part of her political advocacy work on social causes.
In her words “I’m not going to become an institution, and start a trust, and become Mother Teresa, but I can be a counterforce.”
Awards: Arundhati Roy won the most coveted Man Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel – The God of Small Things.
Some of the must reads include:
• The Algebra of Infinite Justice
• The Cost of Living
• Listening to Grasshoppers
Aravind Adiga is an Indian-Australian author who did his initial schooling from Mangalore before immigrating to Australia. He is a finance journalist by profession and wrote his debut novel The White Tiger during his stint as a freelance journalist. The book depicts the age-old class struggle of India in the contemporary globalised world. He currently lives in Mumbai, India.
Award: Aravind Adiga won the most coveted award in the literary world, the Booker Prize, for his debut novel The White Tiger in 2008.
The books written by Aravind Adiga include:
• The White Tiger
• Between the Assassinations
• Last Man in Tower
Kiran Desai is an Indian author, who did her schooling from India but is at present based in the United States. Her works belong to the literary and fictional genre.
Kiran Desai may have initially been known as the daughter of her mother, noted author Anita Desai, but she earned herself a name with her very first book Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, which received many accolades from prominent authors including Salman Rushdie. Kiran Desai has written only two novels as of now.
Awards: Kiran Desai’s second novel, The Inheritance of Loss, won the Oscar of the literary world, the Man Booker Prize, in 2006.
Books by Kiran Desai include:
• Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard
• The Inheritance of Loss
Rohinton Mistry is originally from Mumbai, India, and currently is a citizen of Canada. This Indo-Canadian novelist has written three novels till date and his books reflect nostalgia towards India, Parsi-Zoroastrian life and the socio-economic status of India. Ethnocentricity and minority are the core features of Mistry’s novels. In each of his novels, Mistry’s sturdy sagacity towards social commitment and a sense of anxiety with an element of humanitarian concern can be seen.
Awards: Rohinton Mistry has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for all the three novels that he has written.
The three novels written by Mistry include:
• Such a Long Journey
• A Fine Balance
• Family Matters
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
An Indian American author, Divakaruni’s books have the backdrop of India as well as of America. In her books, there is certainly an element of magic that has been carefully woven with reality. Chitra also dabbles in the world of mythology with a new perspective on some mythological characters that leave the readers feeling “What if”. She writes for both children and adults.
Awards: Divakaruni has won the American Book Awards for her novel Arranged Marriage.
You must read the following books by Divakaruni:
• Mistress of Spices
• Arranged Marriage
• Palace of Illusions
Amitav Ghosh is a Bengali-English author based in the United States. His works of fiction generally have a historical backdrop. He has shown interest in the connections and the cross-connections between the regions in the context of the Indian Ocean world. Amitav Ghosh also writes non-fiction based on fundamentalism, Egyptian culture, etc.
Awards: Amitav Ghosh has been awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India, 2007, and shortlisted for the coveted Booker Prize for his novel Sea of Poppies.
The books by this versatile new age author include:
• The Circle of Reason (his 1986 debut novel)
• The Glass Palace
• The Hungry Tide
• Sea of Poppies
• The Ibis Trilogy (first volume)
• Dancing in Cambodia, At Large in Burma (non-fiction)
Jhumpa Lahiri is an Indian-American author and the winner of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for fiction. As she is acknowledged as a master at coining the description of India through imagination, her works are distinctive because of the simple readable language she uses and her characters are normally Indian immigrating into the U.S.A and struggling to settle down in a place with cultural differences.
Awards: Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her book Interpreter of Maladies in 2000.
Some of the note-worthy books of Jhumpa Lahiri include:
• The Lowland
• Unaccustomed Earth
• Interpreter of Maladies
Authors mentioned here are just a few of the many new breed Indian writers in India; for the list may go on with many more. So, it is time you lose your inhibitions about reading books by Indian authors. Head out to the nearest available bookstore, invest in some good fiction by an Indian author, sit with a hot cuppa in your favourite chair and enjoy.