Books about India

A few of the ones I am most familiar with – there are dozens to choose from

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahari and The Namesake by the same author – Interpreter of Maladies is a short story collection (her first book) and the winner of the Pulitzer prize.  The Namesake follows Indian immigrants to the US – especially looks at the wife who is left at home while her husband makes a new life at his job and the son.  (also a movie)

Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabva – winner of the Booker Prize – set in colonial India during the 1920’s.  It is the story of Olivia, a colonial wife who steps outside the bounds of her life and creates a scandal that rocks the British community


Life of Pi by Yann Martel  – Story of a young boy who is set adrift in a small boat with animals from his father’s zoo after a shipwreck.  (also a movie)

A House for Mr. Biswas by V. s. Naipaul – generally regarded as Naipaul’s most significant work.  It is the story of Mr. Biswas who has married into a family that dominates him and whose life goal is to own his own house.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie – Salem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence and the story of his life is the story of his country.

A Passage to India by E. M. Forster – set in the 1920’s in the British Raj as the Indian independence movement is gaining force. (movie as well)

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – an Indian love story (warning – this one is nearly 1500 pages long)

The White Tiger by Arvin Adiga – story of the difficult life of a taxi driver in modern India (dark comedy)

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – set in India in the 1960’s it is the story of Rahel and her twin brother Estha but it is also the story of local politics, social taboos and history.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling – Written in 1900 it is set against the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia.  Kim is the orphaned son of an Irish solider and a poor Irish mother who have both died in poverty.  It followed him through his life as he moves from his Tibetan Lama friend to become an espionage agent. (film in 1950 with Errol FLynn)

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry – set in India in 1975-76 when Indira Gandhi declares a state of emergency and imprisons the parliamentary opposition as well as thousands of students, teachers, trade unionists and journalists.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo – described as a work of narrative non-fiction it is the winner of the 2012 national Book Award.  “A Mumbai slum understood and imagined as never before in language of intense beauty.” – Salman Rushdie

The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott  – Books are The Jewel in the Crown, The Day of the Scorpion, The Towers of Silence and a Division of the Spoils. – – story of the final years of the British Raj in India (great Masterpiece series)

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