As a diversely rich country when it comes to cultures, religions and languages, India has also nurtured gloriously magnificent literature filled with amazing masterpieces and prolific storytellers! From Premchand to Rabindranath Tagore and Arundhati Roy, you can explore many award-winning and linguistically diverse novels that will help you explore the beautiful Indian culture and its astonishing roots. Looking for greatest Indian authors and their bestsellers to add to your reading list? This blog brings you the best Indian novels and gems of Indian literature you must read once in your lifetime!
“What the world calls sorrow is really joy to the poet.” ― Premchand, Godan
This Blog Includes:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
“If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?”
Penned by the award-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy, the God of Small things is one of the best Indian novels of all the time! This novel was the first book written by the author and won the Booker prize in 1997. Set in the state of Kerala in the 1960s, the story revolves around two fraternal twins Rahel and Estha and the incidents that turn their lives around leading to their separation and ultimately their reunion after years. The novel brilliantly delves into the issues of the caste system and the state’s views towards communism through seamlessly weaving it within the narrative.
The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh
“I know nothing of this silence except that it lies outside the reach of my intelligence, beyond words – that is why this silence must win, must inevitably defeat me, because it is not a presence at all.”
Written by Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh, Shadow Lines won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1989 and revolves around the life of a young boy as he moves from Calcutta to Delhi and then London. A key mention among our list of best Indian novels, Shadow Lines consists of two parts – Going Away and Coming Home and takes you through a tour of major historical events such as the Swadeshi movement of Bengal, the Second World War, the partition of India and post-independence communal riots in Calcutta in the 1960s.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
“I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’m gone which would not have happened if I had not come.”
The winner of the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie is set in the backdrop of India’s transition from a British colony to an Independent nation, revolves around the life of Saleem Sinai, who was born at midnight on 15th August 1947, when India attained its independence. This intricately written and beautiful Indian novel traces Saleem’s life as one of the 1001 midnight’s children (born on 15th August at midnight) blessed with special mystical powers and are linked through telepathy. The novel will take you through a fascinating account of the events that followed Indian partition.
The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor
“While he was alive, he was impossible to ignore; once he had gone, he was impossible to imitate.”
First published in 1989, this satirical work by Shashi Tharoor is one of the best Indian novels of the 21st century. The Great Indian Novel recasts the great Indian epic Mahabharata as a framework for describing the major political events of India in the 20th century which begins from the colonial rule of the British and moves through the struggle for independence leading to the partition of India and its aftermath. This powerful novel rebuilds a narrative of Indian history through recasting the major political leaders of the Indian freedom struggle as the different characters from the great epic.
Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
“When the world is itself draped in the mantle of night, the mirror of the mind is like the sky in which thoughts twinkle like stars.”
One of the best Indian novels ever written on the partition of India, the Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh is a must-read book for anyone interested in getting a different perspective of Indian history. Set in Mano Majra, a small village on the India-Pakistan border during the time of partition, the novel takes you through the reality and horrors that accompanied partition. The book offers a human perspective to the event, instead of going into extensive political details, which sets it apart from other novels written on the issues of partition.
Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
“I am buoyant and expansive and uncontainable–but I always was so, only I never knew it!”
A stellar piece of work by the award-winning author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the Palace of Illusions presents a uniquely amazing take on the epic Mahabharata as the author opts for a retelling of the great epic through the perspective of its lead female character, Draupadi. Another essential add to our list of best Indian Novels, this mythological classic will take you through the same events of the Mahabharata that you are familiar with, but from the viewpoint of Draupadi, describing her life, motives and journey.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
“The human face has limited space. If you fill it with laughter there will be no room for crying.”
One of the best Indian novels, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is the second novel by the author and was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1996. The book, set in 1975 when the then prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, declared a national emergency due to civil unrest, narrates the story of four strangers from different backgrounds who come together and face an uncertain future that resulted from the effects of the emergency. The book is a gripping tale which brilliantly describes the social, political and economic changes that took place in the country in the latter part of the twentieth century, which had a role in shaping current India.
Along with these, here are some more must-read and best Indian novels you can binge on:
- A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
- The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
- The Guide by R.K. Narayan
- The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi
- Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Godan by Premchand
- The Room on the Roof by Ruskin Bond
- The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. – Rabindranath Tagore
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