Two women authors of Indian origin — Tasha Suri and Roshani Chokshi — are now placed alongside JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and Roald Dahl on Time magazine’s list of 100 best fantasy books of all time. One based her world on the Mughal empire, the other drew from Hindu Mythology.
“In a year defined by grim reality, we look to artists to help us understand—and escape,” says the list, which goes as far back as the 9th century to ‘Arabian Nights’, put together over a year by a panel that included Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin, and Marlon James. “I found out only when the list was released online, and I absolutely wasn’t expecting it,” Suri said from London. Across the Atlantic in New York, Chokshi had no idea either: “I was so shocked … The first thing I did was call my grandparents.”
Suri’s ‘Empire of Sand’, the first in the ‘Books of Ambha’ series, is a debut novel set in a world inspired by Mughal India, the Ambhan Empire. “The Mughal Empire was so vast and complex … It felt natural to turn to it when I began thinking about building a fantasy world.” For Chokshi, whose book ‘Aru Shah and the End of Time’, the first of the ‘Pandava Quartet’ was published by the bestselling author of the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan, the inspiration lay at home. “My Ba (grandmother) was my first and favorite storyteller. She filled my head with tales of Krishna and Pandavas. What I loved about Hindu mythology was the idea that the heroes could make villainous choices… and the villains were capable of great piety and kindness.”