Who knows a country better than its own people? Who better to describe India and it’s cities other than Indian authors? I bring to you a list of books by Indian authors that truly capture the essence of the country and the hustle-bustle of the cities. Check them out below:
Small Days and Nights by Tishani Doshi
A captivating and clear-eyed story of two sisters caught in a moment of transformation, set against the vivid backdrop of modern India. In fierce, lyrical prose, Doshi presents an unflinching portrait of contemporary India. Exploring the tensions between urban and rural life, modernity and tradition, duty, and freedom. Luminous, funny, surprising, and heartbreaking, Small Days and Nights is a story of the ties that bind, the secrets we bury, and the sacrifices we make to forge lives that have meaning.
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
Narcopolis is the debut novel of Indian author Jeet Thayil. It is set in the 1970s Old Bombay and concerns opium and its influence. The novel’s narrator arrives in Bombay, where he becomes seduced into the opium underground.
Boats on Land by Janice Pariat
Boats on Land is a unique way of looking at India’s northeast and its people against a larger historical canvas—the early days of the British Raj, the World Wars, conversions to Christianity, and the missionaries. This is a world in which the every day is infused with folklore and a deep belief in the supernatural.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The novel provides a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalized world as told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a village boy. In detailing Balram’s journey first to Delhi, where he works as a chauffeur to a rich landlord, and then to Bangalore, the place to which he flees after killing his master and stealing his money, the novel examines issues of religion, caste, loyalty, corruption, and poverty in India.
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
In The Far Field, Madhuri Vijay gives a potent critique of Indian politics and class prejudice through the lens of a guileless outsider, while also offering up a profound meditation on grief, guilt, and the limits of compassion.
Following Fish by Samanth Subramanian
This is the only non-fiction on the list. This collection strings together nine stories gathered along the Indian coast, from Bengal to Gujarat. On a coastline as long and diverse as India’s, fish inhabit the heart of many worlds – food of course, but also culture, commerce, sport, history, and society. Journeying along the edge of the peninsula, Samanth Subramanian reports upon a kaleidoscope of extraordinary stories.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things is the debut novel of Indian writer Arundhati Roy. It is a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the “Love Laws” that lay down “who should be loved, and how. And how much.” The book explores how the small things affect people’s behavior and their lives.
Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
Sacred Games is a book by Vikram Chandra published in 2006. Sacred Games combines the ambition of a 20th-century social novel with a cops-and-gangster detective thriller. Sacred Games delves into many emotionally charged worlds of contemporary India, in particular the spidery links between organized crime, local politics, and Indian espionage that lie below the shimmering surfaces of its economic renaissance. Money and corruption form the golden thread. In interweaving narratives and voices, Sacred Games takes on even larger themes, from the wrenching violence of the 1947 partition of India to the specter of nuclear terrorism.
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
The novel is set in Calcutta (Kolkata) in the 1960s and follows a wealthy business family, one of whose members gets involved in extremist political activism. The book deals with the chasm between generations and is set against a backdrop in which the gulf between the poor and the wealthy has never been wider
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
The story centers around the lives of Biju and Sai. Biju is an Indian living in the United States illegally, son of a cook who works for Sai’s grandfather. Sai is a girl living in mountainous Kalimpong with her maternal grandfather, Jemubhai Patel; the cook; and a dog named Mutt. Author Desai alternates the narration between these two points of view. The action of the novel takes place in 1986.