Indian English Literature also known as Indo-Anglian literature is only few centuries old. In fact, the first English novel to be written by an Indian was in 1793. Most of the novels by Indian authors draw inspiration from real-life experiences blended with fiction. For instance, most of the stories written by Rabindranath Tagore were around upper-class Bengalis in pre-independence era. Similarly, R. K. Narayan’s Malgudi days was set in the same pre-Independence era as well. With Indian novels you can travel back in time and re-live the era. Some of the works by Indian authors are considered masterpiece and have received success globally. Many of these masterpieces have gone to won Booker, Pulitzer and Sahitya Akademi awards.
As an avid reader, it was really hard for me to choose some of the best Indian novels of all time but nevertheless I present to you 10 Best Indian Novels by Indian authors you must read if you are new to Indian English Literature.
#1 The Last Song Of Dusk by Siddharth Dhavant Shanghvi
The Last Song of Dusk was Siddharth Shanghvi’s debut novel that went to win an International bestseller. The book won Betty Trask Award (one of UK’s most prestigious awards).
Set in 1920s, the book follows the story of girl named Anuradha, who moves to Bombay, after getting married to Vardhmaan (a doctor by profession). The couple are soon blessed with a child but their happiness is short-lived. While mending their relationship, the couple learn the true-meaning of love.
#2 The God Of Small Things By Arundhati Roy
One of the Best Indian novels to read, The God of Small Things won Booker Prize in 1997. It remained Arundhati Roy’s first and only book till 2017. The book explores different human emotions. The story revolves around Ipe family. Ammu Ipe escapes to Kolkata from Kerala and marries a man. They have fraternal twins, Rahel and Estha but the marriage is short-lived. Tired of her husband’s abuse, Ammu goes back to Kerala with her children. At the tender age of 7, children are separated and Ammu dies at the age of 31.
#3 The Immortals Of Meluha By Amish Tripathi
The Immortals of Meluha is the first novel of Shiva Trilogy and also debut novel of author, Amish Tripathi. Considered to be one of the best mythology-fiction book, The Immortals of Meluha follows the journey of Shiva from an ordinary human being to a supreme god. The book was initially rejected by many publication houses, Tripathi’s agent decided to publish book by himself. The first chapter of the book was available to download for free.
#4 The Palace Of Illusions By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s first book, arranged marriage won American Book Award in 1995. Published in 2008, The Palace of Illusions is an interpretation of epic MAHABHARATA’ from Draupadi’s point of view, who sheds light on a woman living in a world of patriarchy. The book explores her relationship with pandavas, her mother-in-law Kunti and her best friend, Krishna.
#5 White Tiger By Aravind Adiga
Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, White Tiger, won him Booker prize in 2008. The story is told from the viewpoint of Balram Halwai who moves from a small village to Gurgaon and then to Bangalore. Balram works as a servant at a teashop in Dhanbad. He considers himself a good listener and learns to drive a car. He soon becomes a chauffeur and drives car for Ashok and his wife, Pinky. The trio move to Gurgaon where Balram sees corruption at every level. The story takes a turn when Ashok’s wife, while drunk, hits something and runs away. Ashok begins to pressurize Balram to take the blame. What happens next is the crux of the book.
#6 The Great Indian Novel By Shashi Tharoor
The story here recasts the epic of Mahabharata into the context of Indian Indian Independence movement. People who were at the forefront of India’s Independence were changed into characters of Mahabharata which has a pun, fun, satire and many other emotions. The Great Indian Novel is truly one of the best Indian novels to read.
#7 A Suitable Boy By Vikram Seth
This is one of the longest novels ever published in the single volume in the English Language. Set amidst the times of post-independence and partition of India, the story of the novel is about four clans. At the center is Mrs. Mehra who is determined to get her younger daughter (Lata) to ‘a suitable boy’. Lata’s story revolves around three suitors, dominating mother and opinionated brother. A suitable boy is considered a masterpiece and one of the best novels by Indian Authors.
#8 A Fine Balance By Rohinton My Rohinton Mistry
This is the second novel penned by author Rohinton Mistry and is set in “an unknown city” in India, The time period that is the base of this novel is in 1975 and later in 1984 during the chaos of The Emergency. The book mainly deals with four characters from completely different backgrounds. The characters Dina Dalal, Ishvar Darji, his nephew Omprakash Darji and the young student Maneck Kohlah. They all find camaraderie among each other. A Fine Balance will give you glimpse of 1975 emergency.
#9 In Custody By Anita Desai
In Custody by Anita Desai was published in 1984 and was shortlisted for Booker prize. The novel revolves around a lecturer, Deven who teaches Hindi literature to college students and has an interest in Urdu poetry. Deven’s friend, Murad, who owns a publishing house, offers Deven to interview a great Urdu poet, Nur. Excited by the opportunity, Deven comes to Delhi to meet Nur but is taken aback by the dilapidated condition of Nur’s house. The book was also adapted into a movie starring Shashi Kapoor and Om Puri.
#10 The Inheritance Of Loss By Kiran Desai
Written by Anita Desai’s daughter, Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss won Booker prize. A grim book which has some element of humor explores the lives of Biju and Sai. Biju is an illegal immigrant in US who does odd jobs to stay in US. His father lives in India and is constantly worried about his son. Eventually, Biju returns to India. Sai is a granddaughter of a retired judge. She lives in India and is in love with her tutor, Gyan but the duo can not marry because of the class.
Also Read: Amazing Female Writers of Indian Origin
These were some of the best novels by Indian authors. Buy these novels here.
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