WHITE MUGHALS: William Dalrymple
In White Mughals, William Dalrymple tells the story of a British Resident in
Hyderabad, James Achilles Kirkpatrick, around the beginning of 19th century.
White Mughals is a dense, well-researched book of history, rather than a breezy
account of sensational goings - and with truth often stranger than fiction,
there's enough here to keep one interested. The book presents a fascinating
picture of India in the tides of change, and of how those who were there acted
EAT, PRAY,LOVE, Elizabeth Gilbert
at, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and
Indonesia is a 2006 memoir by American author Elizabeth Gilbert. The memoir
chronicles the author's trip around the world after her divorce and what she
discovered during her travels.
Elizabeth Gilbert explains how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all
the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country,
career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a
year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different
cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion
in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali.
An interesting read, the book will make you think about life, what you see of it
and what remains unseen!
INDIA AFTER GANDHI - Ramchandra Guha
“India After Gandhi” begins with the British, in this remarkable book, we have
an epic account of the world’s largest and least likely democracy. Moving
between history and biography, India After Gandhi is peppered with incredible
characters from the longstanding Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira
Gandhi to peasants, tribals, women, workers and musicians. Massively researched
and elegantly written, this is the work of a major scholar at the height of his
GOD OF SMALL THINGS: Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things (1997) is a semi-autobiographical, politically charged
novel by Indian author Arundhati Roy. It is a story about the childhood
experiences of a pair of fraternal twins who become victims of circumstance. The
book is a description of how the small things in life build up, translate into
people's behavior and affect their lives. The book won the Booker Prize in 1997.
SUITABLE BOY: Vikram Seth
A Suitable Boy is a novel by Vikram Seth, released in 1994; the book is one of
the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the English language. A
Suitable Boy is set in post-independence, post-partition India. This epic novel
covers the various issues faced by post-independence India, including
Hindu-Muslim strife, abolition of the Zamindari system, land reforms and
empowerment of Muslim women. The book has won International Awards such as the
Commonwealth Writers Prize and WH Smith Literary Award amongst others in 1994.
THE NAMESAKE: Jhumpa Lahiri
The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri’s second book and first novel, was published in
2003, that bagged the ‘Pulitzer Prize’ for Fiction, and won critical acclaim for
its grace, acuity, and compassion in detailing lives transported from India to
The book spans more than thirty years in the life of a fictional family, The
Gangulis. The Ganguli Parents, each born in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata),
immigrated to the United States as young adults. Their children, Gogol and
Sonali, grow up in the United States and much of the tension of the novel is
dependent upon the generation and cultural gap between the parents and their
Also watch the film, ‘Namesake’ which was a revolutionary direction by Mira Nair
(known for directing Indo-English movies), released in the United States,
Canada, United Kingdom and India in March 2007.
Both, the book and the film, provides an insight into the trapped minds of
Indo-Western Indians and a different outlook on the thoughts and apprehensions
of this growing sect of Indians world wide.
INHERITANCE OF LOSS: Kiran Desai
The Inheritance of Loss is the second novel by Indian author Kiran Desai.
Published in 2006, the novel won the Man Booker Prize for that year as well as
the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award in 2007.
‘Inheritance of Loss’ focuses on the fate of a few powerless individuals; Kiran
Desai’s extraordinary writing skills manage to explore, with intimacy and
insight, just about every contemporary international issue ranging from
colonialism to globalization, materialism, immigration and class issues,
prejudice and victimization, economic inequality, fundamentalism and terrorist
An interesting view for a prospective reader, who wishes to look at these issues
from a difference perspective!
FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT: Dominique Lapierre & Larry Collins
Freedom at Midnight is about the transition of India from a British Colony to an
independent nation on midnight of 15 August 1947. The strongest attribute of
this book is the description of the characters and personalities involved. The
book is a result of deeply scanned and researched events which are quite often
left out by historians and is an intimate account of reasoning of the historical
figures that lead to the independence and division of India. Beginning with the
appointment of Lord Mountbatten as the last viceroy of British India, and ending
with the death and funeral of Mahatma Gandhi, the key players around which this
book revolves are Mountbatten, Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah. If you are interested
in the history of India, this book will be interesting for you.
“SUPERSTAR INDIA: From Incredible to Unstoppable”: Shobhaa De
Shobhaa De’s latest offering ‘Superstar India: from Incredible to Unstoppable’
is the author’s personal story of her romance with a free country that shares
Surveying the many images of the country, Dé points out that for every truism
about India the opposite is also true: India as the land of the meek; India as
inheritor of the earth; India surrounded by distinctly unfriendly neighbours;
Indians fleeing to jobs in the West and then racing right back to a better life;
Indians who ape their erstwhile colonizers and yet cling irrationally to
In a departure from anything else she has written, Shobhaa Dé lasers in on
Indian people and their place in the larger human society, pointing out her
country’s historical failings and equally historical glories. Admitting to
knee-jerk reactions to much of what is happening at home and in the world, Dé
reasons, nevertheless, that the nation has earned superstar status, and with
humorous argumentativeness, she convinces the reader that India is not about to
lose its glow!
INDIA: THE PEACOCK’S CALL: Aline Dobbie
India: The Peacock’s Call begins with an account of the author’s return to India
after 35 years. A blend of travelogue and memoir, India: The Peacock’s Call
combines an account of the author’s travels to India between 1997 – 2008 with
her childhood memories, providing a deeply engaging guide to modern India filled
with a poetic yearning for the land of her birth. Aline Dobbie begins her
journey in Delhi, on through to Rajasthan, to Agra, Uttar Pradesh and Kolkata.
The authors first hand reminiscences of her childhood, her knowledge of her
forefathers’ experiences and the broader, deeper history of India make India:
The Peacock’s Call far more informative than a standard travel guide.
INSPITE OF GODS: Luce Edward
IN SPITE OF THE GODS is without doubt one of the best books written on New
India: witty, clear and accessible yet minutely researched and confidently
authoritative. When a foreign correspondent spends five years living and working
in a country and then writes a book about it, there's bound to be a measure of
skepticism – murmurs, perhaps, about why an outsider with little emotional stake
in the place should hold forth on its problems and suggest possible remedies.
But Edward Luce's “In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India” does
not raise a doubt. It doesn't make overreaching judgments; it prefers to make
sharp observations instead. Luce is respectful of the complexities of the
country, and of Amartya Sen's observation that "anything one might say about
India, the opposite can also be shown to be true".
In Spite of the Gods illuminates a land of many contradictions. Edward Luce, a
journalist who covered India for many years, makes brilliant sense of India and
its rise to global power. Already a number-one bestseller in India, this book is
sure to be acknowledged for years as the most definitive introduction to modern
THE LAST MUGHAL: William Dalrymple
William Dalrymple’s captivating book – The Last Mughal: Eclipse of a Dynasty,
Delhi 1857, is not only a great reading, but also contributes very substantially
to our understanding of the remarkable history of the Mughal Empire in its dying
days. The book is a portrait of dazzling Delhi, the story of last days of the
great Mughal capital and its final destruction in the catastrophe of 1857. It is
an extraordinary piece of work with clear contemporary echoes. The book also won
the prestigious Duff Cooper Prize for History and Biography 2007.
THE SHADOW LINES
The Shadow Lines by Amitav Gosh paints a landscape of symbolism and realism that
spans both time and space. The concepts of distance and time are uniquely
portrayed in the physical borders that divide countries and the imaginary
borders that divide human beings. From the image-conscious character of the
grandmother to the riots that explode in the streets, Ghosh takes the reader on
a fascinating journey of exploration, dissecting the characters of the story
while simultaneously dissecting the human race.
A narrative built up of a complicated web of memories of many people, The Shadow
Lines interrogates the viability and relevance of man-made divisions,
necessitating acts of offense resulting from state-codified boundaries.
THE WHITE TIGER: Aravind Adiga
The White Tiger is the debut novel by Indian author Aravind Adiga. It was first
published in 2008 and won the Man Booker Prize for the year. The novel studies
the contrast between India's rise as a modern global economy and the main
character, who comes from crushing rural poverty.
The novel takes the form of a series of letters written late at night by Balram
(key character of the novel) to Wen Jiabao, the Premier of the State Council of
the People's Republic of China. In the letters, Balram describes his rise from
lowly origins to his current position as an entrepreneur in Bangalore, as well
as his views on India's caste system and its political corruption - an eye
opener to the real India.
CHOKHER BALI: Rabindranath Tagore
‘Chokher Bali’, literally meaning ‘Sand of the Eye’, equivalent to eye-sore, is
a Bengali novel written by Rabindranath Tagore in the early 20th century,
against the backdrop of the Indian Independence Movement.
Tagore elaborately records early 20th century Bengali society, through his
central character, a rebellious widow, who wants to live a life of her own. In
writing this novel, he exposes the custom of perpetual mourning on the part of
widows, who were not allowed to remarry and were condemned to a life of
isolation and loneliness. It is a miserable, stirring tale of the deceit and
sorrow that arise from pressures of society and resulting dissatisfaction. The
novel was later adapted into a film by Rituparno Ghosh in 2003.
CITY OF DJINNS: William Dalrymple
City of Djinns is a travelogue by William Dalrymple about the historical capital
city of India, Delhi. The book was culminated as a result of the authors
six-year stay in New Delhi. City of Djinns examines the traumatic events
witnessed by India’s capital city, such as the partition of India and the 1984
anti-Sikh riots which were triggered as a result of assassination of then Prime
Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi.
The book follows Dalrymple’s established style of historical digressions, tied
in with contemporary events and a multitude of anecdotes. The novel has also
inspired theater and has been enacted into a play by Rahul Dasinnur Pulkeshi of
SHAKUNTALA & OTHER STORIES FROM ANCIENT INDIA: Adithi Rao
This is a compilation of six unforgettable stories of love and bravery,
treachery and injustice, from ancient Indian literature. Classical Sanskrit and
Tamil writing teamed with myriad characters, present this collection of six
epics namely ‘Shakuntala’, ‘The Little Clay Cart’, ‘The Story of an Anklet’, ‘Manime-kalai’,
‘The Last Trial of Sita’, which gives a new ending to the Ramayana, and ‘The
Broken Thigh’, about the final, desperate combat between Duryodhana and Bheema
on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Accompanied by descriptions of the authors’ lives and the time when the stories
were written, these lively retellings are an ideal introduction to some of the
best-known Indian classics.
THE MUSIC ROOM: Namita Devidayal
Namita Devidayal’s interesting book ‘The Music Room’, gives an inside view of
the legends of Hindustani (Indian) Music. The story takes its readers through
the history of Rajasthani Jaipur Gharana and Hindustani music over a period of
100 years. The story revolves around Namita and her teacher, who is shy at
heart, diffident, and yet full of determination. A beautifully written tale with
gossips and legends, this is an interesting read for those who wish to
understand the challenges of adversity.
INCREDIBLE INDIA - TRADITIONS & RITUALS: Muthusamy Varadarajan
Published in October 2007, ‘Incredible India – Traditions & Rituals’, is a
unique book highlighting the essence of India and Indian culture and beliefs.
The author explains how India’s prevalent rituals and traditions emerged as
tools of self-expression and as channels through which material rewards could be
solicited. Written by an expert on traditions and culture, this book gives a
revitalizing thought to this age-old subject, shedding new light and offering
logical explanation to some of India’s age old traditions.
IN STEP WITH PARADISE – RHYTHMS TO THE POETRY OF KASHMIR – Uma Vasudev
Uma Vasudev’s novel ‘In step with Paradise – Rhythms to the poetry of Kashmir’,
gives her passion for art a characteristically individual flavour. Here, the
author gets 12 of India’s leading classical dancers encompassing five classical
dance forms – Bharat Natyam, Kathak, Odissi, Manipuri and Kuchipudi, to portray
a format never attempted before. The novel portrays the closeness between
Kashmiri poetry and India’s traditional dance forms and depicts the essence of
Kashmir as revealed in gesture, movement, poetry and words by dancers, poised
along breathtaking photographs of India.
While the essays delineate the cultural essence of Kashmir, the dancers are
etched in evocative sublime form. Each one of them also articulates in words, as
creatively as they do in their dance, about the new challenges that they had to
face to adapt to different imagery and content. Each dancer also describes how
they combined their individual reaction with the inspiration provided by the
author as director. Thoughtful and exquisite, the novel is an unusual blend of
poetry, dances and an underlying essence of Kashmir.
A PRINCESS REMEMBERS, Maharani Gayatri Devi
‘A Princess Remembers’, the memories of the Maharani of Jaipur, written by
Maharani Gayatri Devi herself, is a personal account of the life of the
princess. Maharani Gayatri Devi was the last Queen of Jaipur in Rajasthan. She
was listed in Vogue as one of the most beautiful women in the world.
This is an intimate book, presenting the extraordinary life of one of the
world's most fascinating women. Maharani Gayatri Devi describes her carefree
tomboy childhood; her secret six-year courtship with the internationally
renowned polo player, Jai Singh - the Maharaja of Jaipur; and her marriage and
entrance into the City Palace of the 'pink city' where she had to adjust to
unfamiliar customs and live with her husbands other wives. Maharaja Jai Singh’s
liberating influence, combined with Maharani Gayatri Devi's strong character,
took her well beyond the traditional limited activities of a Maharani. The book
gives an account of the Maharani’s life from the height of their power to the
present day de-recognition of the Kingdom.
HEAT & DUST, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
‘Heat and Dust’ is a novel by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. It was published in 1975 and
won the Booker Prize for the year. The events of the story take place in India,
during the periods of British Raj in the 1920s. The narrator discovers that
Olivia (young English woman) was a woman smothered by the social restrictions
placed upon her by British society. She falls in love with a Nawab and becomes
pregnant with his child. Her decision to abort the baby results in a scandal. In
discovering the truth about these events, the narrator also comes to fall in
love with an Indian man, understand herself better and develops an interest in
India. The novel was later adapted into a film by James Ivory in 1983 and won
CITY OF JOY: Dominique Lapierre
‘City of Joy’ is a novel written by Dominique Lapierre in 1985. The book depicts
a grim and stark, yet true, picture of the living conditions in a typical Indian
slum. The author writes about prevalent poverty, famine, disease, political
apathy, rotten bureaucracy, the underworld, exploitative politics and social and
moral crises prevalent in West Bengal, particularly in Kolkata, during the
1980s. The novel was later adapted into a movie directed by Roland Joffé in
Half of the proceeds from the sale of this book go towards the City of Joy
Foundation that looks after slum children in Kolkata.