‘A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge’.
Bored of reading Sidney Sheldon’s and Dan Brown’s books? It’s time for you to read India centric books with familiar settings, relatable themes and identifiable characters.
Here, is a list of books by Indian authors that you must read. Every book in this list is capable of changing the way you look at life and as they say, ‘A good book makes you want to live in the story, a great book gives you no choice’.
The palace of illusions – Chitra Banerjee DevakaruniRight from the age of five to six years, we’ve heard the story of Mahabharata on lazy summer afternoons, from our grand mothers. This book gives a new perspective- the one of a female, to the age-old epic. In a fictional account of Mahabharata, Devakaruni has written the male dominated epic from a woman’s point of view. Narrated by Panchaali (Draupadi), the story begins with her birth from fire, marked with the prophecy that she will change the course of history, she marries all the five famous Pandava brothers and finds herself to be the happy mistress of the much-envied palace of illusions. With heavy-handed feminism, the action-filled narrative contrasts well with the complex psychological portrayal of the mythic princess.
BhimayanaThis autobiographical account of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar which is written in the form of a comic is one of its kind. It traces the life of a dalit in India and explains the discrimination meted out to him. With interesting graphics and a gripping narrative, the book overwhelms the reader with a variety of emotions. It forces the reader to ask questions, feel angry, feel ashamed and in short, question the archaic claims of the Indian caste system.
Asura (tale of the vanquished) – Anand NeelakantanRavana has always been dubbed as absolute evil, right from our childhood days. But what if he wasn’t such an evil man after all and in his lifetime abducting Sita was his only crime? This book is the epic tale of the vanquished Asura people, a story that has been cherished by the oppressed castes of India for 3000 years. The book is a retelling of Ramayana from Ravana's perspective, An Asura who is shown as the man of values in his lifetime. The author attacks the dirty caste practices prevalent in the society. Radhika, a class 12 student of Delhi Public School claims: “This book has many layers to it, of History, Religion, Mythology and Fiction. It retells Ramayana as never been heard of before.”
The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri“With her intricate second novel, set in India and America, Lahiri draws a powerful picture of brotherly bonds broken by politics,” wrote Anita Sethi for The Guardian. Set in 1960s Calcutta, the story draws the lives of two brothers Subhash and Udayan, and four generations of this particular family. The narrative moves back and forth through time and across the points of view of all the principal characters, there is an intertwining of politics and sexuality, the cauterizing of emotional wounds and grievances, and the repetition of places and personalities.
Swami and friends - R.K. NarayanSet in the backdrop of the 1930s India, Narayan has written the book coloured with the nationalist movement. Written from a child’s perspective, the book puts forth Anti-British sentiments in a guise. The well moulded characters be it Swami's grandmother or his friend Mani along with the minute description of the life of a child in those days, captures the essence of the culture of India. This brilliantly written story makes for a light read, expressing the emotions of a primary school boy, Swami and his friends at the time of the Independence struggle of the country. So, what are you waiting for? Get set and get reading! (As a thank you, do let us know how you liked the books, in the comments below.)