The dynamic history and culture of India has always contributed to the literature world since the beginning of human civilization. With 22 officially recognized languages, writers in India have embarked their beautiful work in English literature as well since early 19th century.
“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the souls of the people.” Therefore to navigate you through this overwhelming journey of places and people in India, here is a list of some euphoric creations by the powerfully ecstatic minds of India.
K. Narayan: (1906 to 2001)
The Guide: The fictional town of Malgudi was first introduced in ‘Swami and Friends’ by R K Narayan. ‘The Guide’ is yet another story about a tourist guide named Raju in the Malgudi town. The writer won Sahitya Academy Award for the book in 1958 which later got filmed casting a legendary artist, Dev Anand. R K Narayan also won Film Fare for best story after the film was made.
Ruskin Bond: (1951)
Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra: It is a collection of short stories driving down the path of Bond’s childhood to his adolescence. He got the Sahitya Academy Award in 1992 for this book. His other famous works include ‘A Flight of Pigeons’ and ‘The Blue Umbrella’. Rusty was a character created by Bond to write short stories about his own childhood. At the age of 17, Bond wrote ‘The Room on the Roof’ in which Rusty is the protagonist. He finally wrote ‘Lone Fox Dancing: My Autobiography’ in the recent years. His stories and novels bring India vividly to life.
Arundhati Roy: (1961)
The God of Small Things: This debut novel of the writer received Man Booker prize for fiction in 1997 and is still recognized globally. The book is about two fraternal twins who move apart in childhood due to family issues who happen to reunite in later years as adults. The recent work of the writer includes ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ which is a plot around the modern India history. The book got nominated for several awards.
Amish Tripathi: (1974)
Scion of Ikshvaku: One of the most recognized series of the 21st century is the Shiva trilogy. The other famous series by the author is the Ramachandra series which includes ‘Ram: Scion of Ikshvaku’ and ‘Sita: Warrior of Mithila’. He received the Crossword Book Award and the Dainik Bhaskar Readers Choice Award for Best Popular Book for ‘Scion of Ikshvaku’ in 2016 which is a tale of Lord Rama, a mythological figure, characterized in a more humanized way.
Anita Desai: (1963)
In custody: It is a novel set in Delhi demonstrating the life of a Hindu teacher who has immense inclination towards Urdu poetry. The diversity of the India culture is explored through the book using hymns of Urdu. This book was shortlisted for Booker Price in 1984. Her other creative writings include ‘Clear Light of Day’, ‘The Zigzag Way’, ‘Fasting, Feasting’ to name a few.
Salman Rushdie: (1947)
Midnight’s Children: It is kind of a semi-autobiography of a deterministic boy named Saleem who grew in the shadows of India independence and possesses magical powers. The book is an ultimate two times winner of the “Booker of Bookers” Prize in 1993 and 2008, and won the Booker Prize in 1981. Other notable works of the writer include ‘Imaginary Homelands’, ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet’, ‘The Satanic Verses’ and ‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’.
Khushwant Singh: (1915 to 2014)
Train to Pakistan: The best work of this self-proclaimed agnostic, as he calls himself, is ‘Train to Pakistan’. This narrative takes place around the period of historic partition of India during 1947 which divided the country into Hindu Indians and Muslim Pakistanis. Trains filling India Muslims to migrate to Pakistan brings a reign of outrageous revolt from the people in the imaginary village of Mano Majra. Most of Khushwant Singh’s work is based on his religious beliefs including ‘A History of the Sikhs’, ‘The Sunset Club’, ‘The Voice of God and Other Stories’ and many more.
Kiran Desai: (1998)
The Inheritance of Loss: It’s a story about two characters, one in US and the other in India. With the influence of colonialism, the book travels through the conflicts arose due to changing traditions in India because of western culture’s influence. It won the 2006 Man Booker Prize, as well as the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award. Kiran Desai received global recognition for her second book. Her debut novel was ‘Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard’.
Vikram Seth: (1952)
A Suitable Boy: It is the longest novel ever, published in a single volume containing 1347 pages. It is set in an eventful period when India had won complete independence from England and had resolved the several Hindu- Muslim conflicts due to the partition. The protagonist is a Hindu girl who falls for a Muslim boy and wishes to marry him. However, her mother does not approve him to be a suitable boy for marriage. ‘A Suitable Girl’ is expected to be released soon.
Nirad Chaudhari: (1897 to 1999)
The Autobiography of an Unknown India: For an autobiography, it is an outstanding revelation of the modesty of a non-native English speaker. Born in Bangladesh and grown up in south India, the writer has scripted his observations over the period of British rule in the grounds of his native place, his views about Islamic culture, about Hindu-Muslim conflicts, his future predictions about India political and social conditions in this book. One of his other notable works includes ‘The Continent of Circe’.
Words of Warriors:
The autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Mahatma Gandhi – The Story of My Experiments with the Truth’ is the most inspiring and outstanding literary collection of all times. ‘Makers of Modern India’ by Ramachandra Guha is also a magnificent work collaborated by collective writings of nineteen national activists who shaped India in the past 150 years prior to independence.