Books have been a source of enjoyment, education and generally a medium to expand one’s horizons since time immemorial. Though Indian books may have a relatively smaller audience globally, its Vedic history, the multi-cultural ethos of the country and its substantial influence of foreign cultures make India a colorful and vibrant setting for a range of stories. Here are the twenty of the all time best sellers written by Indian authors and others with an Indian connection, including those which have won critical acclaim and international awards. They’re personal selections by some of the best literary personalities of our time. Don’t be too disappointed if your favorite is not on the list. It’s a fitting start for anyone interested in delving into Indian writing.
1. Midnight’s Children (1981) by Salman Rushdie: It is one of the first to explore magical realism over 3 generations. Two babies are born at the stroke of midnight when India becomes independent.
2. Twilight In Delhi (1940) by Ahmed Ali: E.M. Forster had to convince the publishers that the book was not seditious.
3. The Inheritance of Loss (2006) by Kiran Desai: This award winning novel is about living the chasm between East and West, and how willfully people reject their own culture to ‘fit’ into a foreign culture.
4. The Guide (1958) by R.K. Narayan: This tale about a tourist guide who turns into a spiritual guru is a must read. Though you might be tempted to see the Bollywood version starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman.
5. The Namesake (2003) by Jumpa Lahiri: When the person one is named after, often a pet name, starts affecting one’s life, one starts having twin identities, as some Bengalis discover as immigrants in America.