India, with its rich cultural heritage and diverse storytelling traditions, has given rise to some of the most compelling voices in English literature. Indian authors writing in English have not only carved a niche in the global literary landscape but have also brought forth the nuances of Indian life, its complexities, and its vibrant culture to a worldwide audience. This article sets the stage for a curated list of 10 remarkable novels by Indian authors in English, showcasing the depth and diversity of Indian storytelling.
Each novel on this list is a testament to the author’s profound understanding of human emotions, social structures, and historical contexts. These works range from evocative tales set in pre-independent India, reflecting the country’s struggle and transformation, to contemporary narratives that explore modern India’s social and cultural dynamics. The authors, through their unique lenses, offer insights into the everyday lives of Indians, the country’s rich mythological tapestry, and its colonial past, often weaving these elements together with universal themes of love, loss, identity, and resilience.
This selection aims to provide readers with a glimpse into the rich literary world of Indian authors writing in English. From the poignant and profound to the light-hearted and whimsical, these novels promise to engage, enlighten, and entertain, catering to a wide array of tastes and interests. They are not just stories set in India but are windows into the soul of a nation as diverse as it is vast, as traditional as it is modern.
1. Bhavik Sarkhedi’s – The Unproposed Guy
In the realm of Indian-authored English literature, “The Unproposed Guy” stands out as one of the concealed masterpieces, revealing itself as a captivating odyssey. Protagonist Kevin, hailing from humble beginnings, navigates a tumultuous path marked by failed relationships, catalyzing profound self-discovery and evolution. His journey through love, romance, emotions, pain, failure, and sorrow evolves into an unexpected passion for stand-up comedy, where laughter becomes the conduit for his emotions.
Authored through the collaborative genius of Bhavik Sarkhedi and debut writer Suhana Bhambhani, the book seamlessly interweaves humor, drama, emotions, love, and romance, crafting a narrative that underscores the resilience found in perseverance. “The Unproposed Guy” not only entertains with its unique blend of genres but also imparts valuable lessons on the transformative power of unwavering determination amidst life’s challenges. Hence, making in the list of 10 novels by Indian authors in English.
2. Mulk Raj Anand’s – Untouchable
Mulk Raj Anand’s novel unfolds the narrative of Bakha, a youthful and appealing man relegated to the status of an outcast in India’s caste system, condemned as an untouchable. Plunging into the poignant quest for meaning amid the tragic circumstances of his birth as a sweeper and toilet cleaner, Bakha reaches an unforeseen revelation.
An influential Indian writer in English, Mulk Raj Anand stands out for his portrayal of the lower castes within traditional Indian society. Pioneering alongside R.K. Narayan, Ahmad Ali, and Raja Rao, Anand was among the early India-based English writers to garner international recognition. His novels and short stories have since earned the distinction of timeless classics in modern Indian English literature, renowned for their astute portrayal of the oppressed.
3. Shashi Tharoor’s – The Great Indian Novel
In his satirical magnum opus, Shashi Tharoor ingeniously reimagines the Hindu epic Mahabharata, skillfully transplanting it into the tumultuous landscape of the Indian Independence Movement and the subsequent decades of upheaval. This contemporary gem within Indian literature captivates readers with its thrilling narrative and profound insights. Tharoor astutely transforms key figures from India’s struggle for freedom and its political panorama into characters from the ancient Mahabharata, deftly drawing parallels between mythological narratives and modern historical events.
Tharoor’s storytelling prowess seamlessly blends historical facts with mythical lore, providing a unique perspective to examine India’s rich tapestry of past and present. The novel skillfully navigates intricate themes of power, politics, and morality, ensuring its appeal to both those well-acquainted with Indian history and newcomers to the subject. As it challenges and entertains, Tharoor’s work offers a refreshing lens through which to view familiar events and figures, enriching our understanding of India’s compelling narrative. Further, making the list of 10 novels by Indian authors in English.
4. Chetan Bhagat’s – 2 States: The Story of My Marriage
“2 States: The Story of My Marriage” by Chetan Bhagat is a compelling narrative that traverses the cultural and familial complexities of inter-cultural relationships in India. The story revolves around Krish and Ananya, two individuals from diverse backgrounds who fall in love during their MBA studies. As they decide to marry, they confront the arduous task of convincing their traditional and culturally distinct families to accept their union. Bhagat skillfully weaves humor, romance, and social commentary into the fabric of the novel, addressing prevalent stereotypes and prejudices prevalent in Indian society.
The book not only captures the nuances of modern relationships but also delves into the broader theme of unity in diversity, reflecting on the multicultural landscape of India. Bhagat’s accessible writing style and relatable characters make “2 States” a popular and enjoyable read, resonating with a wide readership and establishing it as one of the prominent works in contemporary Indian English literature.
5. Arundhati Roy’s – The God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” immerses readers in the intricate tapestry of familial bonds and societal taboos in Kerala, India. This profound and evocative novel, published in 1997, swiftly claimed the Booker Prize, capturing global acclaim for its poignant storytelling and lyrical prose. Roy skillfully guides us through the lives of fraternal twins Rahel and Estha, unfolding their complex family dynamics within the context of India’s rigid caste system and political unrest.
The narrative gracefully intertwines past and present events, crafting a tragic saga of forbidden love and the repercussions of defying societal norms. Roy’s distinctive storytelling technique, marked by non-linear sequences and poetic language, artfully captures the subtleties of memory and emotion. Themes of love, betrayal, and the loss of innocence resonate throughout, as the novel delves into the harsh realities of discrimination and the profound impact of historical and cultural forces on individual lives. Recognized in the list of 10 novels by Indian authors in English, “The God of Small Things” stands as a testament to Roy’s narrative prowess and societal insight.
6. Ruskin Bond’s – The Blue Umbrella
In Ruskin Bond’s “The Blue Umbrella,” the protagonist, Biniya, receives a captivating blue umbrella as a gift from three Japanese tourists. This seemingly trivial event takes a compelling turn when a local shopkeeper becomes determined to acquire the umbrella for himself. The narrative unfolds around this seemingly mundane yet captivating premise, expertly drawing the reader into its charm.
The novel skillfully navigates the nuances of human desires and the unexpected significance attached to ordinary objects. As with many of Ruskin Bond’s works, “The Blue Umbrella” transcends age boundaries, offering a narrative that resonates with readers of all ages. Bond’s storytelling prowess is evident in his ability to transform a simple tale into a captivating exploration of human nature, making the novel a delightful and engaging experience for its diverse audience and into the list of 10 novels by Indian authors in English.
7. Devdutt Patnaik’s – JAYA
In “Jaya” by Devdutt Patnaik, the enduring Indian epic, Mahabharata, is masterfully retold in a succinct and approachable fashion. Patnaik weaves a captivating narrative that distills the intricacies of the epic, concentrating on its fundamental stories and characters. Regarded as a standout work among books authored by Indians, “Jaya” stands as a compelling testament to Patnaik’s storytelling prowess.
Devdutt Patnaik, a distinguished mythologist and author, has gained acclaim for his profound knowledge of Indian mythology and his skillful storytelling. His distinctive method of reinterpreting ancient myths and epics using simple and contemporary language has significantly broadened the accessibility of these narratives to a diverse audience. “Jaya” not only serves as a captivating retelling of the Mahabharata but also reflects Patnaik’s commitment to making the richness of Indian mythology more comprehensible and enjoyable for readers.
8. Usha Kiran Moodgal’s – Kavya Tuliks
One of the greatest poets in India, Usha Kiran Moodgal, has compiled a collection of charming poems called Kavya Tulika, which honors the rich history of Hindi literature. This best book by Indian authors deftly weaves feelings inspired by well-known Hindi poets such as Nirala, Jayshankar Prasad, Sumitranandan Pant, and Mahadevi Verma. It is a literary voyage that honors traditional Hindi poetry while embracing deep issues.
It provides us with a lyrical experience steeped in cultural history while delving deeply into Hindi literature. Stories of Krishna, Veer Bhishma Pitamah, and women’s trials and triumphs are echoed throughout Usha Kiran’s poetry. Every poem pays homage to the great minds that shaped the long legacy of Hindi literature, capturing the spirit of literary traditions in their entirety.
The thought-provoking poems of Usha Kiran Moodgal remind us of the eternal power of words by taking readers to a world where tradition and modernity coexist. Usha encourages us to explore the beauty and profundity of Hindi poetry through her thoughtful observations and sincere sentiments.
9. Jhumpa Lahiri’s – The Namesake
Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake is unquestionably among the list of top 10 novels by Indian authors in English. It tells the tale of a little boy called Gogol. Despite having grown up in America, he feels that his name connects him to his Indian background. Gogol struggles to fit in and feels a little lost between two distinct cultures. The narrative of the novel centers on Gogol’s quest to reconcile his American life and Indian heritage.
Renowned Indian author Jhumpa Lahiri is well-known for her narratives that delve into the lives of immigrants and their families in the United States. Her stories expertly capture the feelings and challenges of navigating many cultures, and she writes in a way that transports you to the scene, experiencing everything with her characters.
10. Abhishek Kapoor’s – The Pride of T20 Cricket
Abhishek Kapoor’s ‘The Pride of T20 Cricket’ has emerged as a bestselling cricket-themed comedy novel, captivating readers worldwide with its dynamic and engaging narrative. The novel revolves around an unconventional cricket coach who, due to unexpected events, assembles a team of inexperienced players. This narrative is further enlivened with a dash of romance, making it an ideal read for families seeking both humor and excitement.
Notably, ‘The Pride of T20 Cricket’ has gained acclaim as one of the top cricket comedy books on Kindle, particularly in the United Kingdom, USA, India, and Australia.
Kapoor, a Kanpur-based author, is celebrated for his versatility and eloquent wordplay, especially among young readers and critics in India. His literary repertoire includes diverse genres, ranging from the crime thriller ‘The Selfish Betrayals’ to the insightful non-fiction work ’11 Things To Know Before You Turn 35.’
One of his most impactful moments came when he declared, “People, money, fame, time, everything will always come and go, but what remains forever is a well-written book.” This statement resonated deeply within the global reading community, going viral and further cementing his reputation. Kapoor’s distinct approach to storytelling has not only won him fame but also a dedicated following who admires his unique narrative style.
In conclusion, this curated list of 10 novels by Indian authors in English offers a panoramic view of India’s rich literary landscape. Each novel, unique in its narrative and style, reflects the diverse cultural, social, and historical tapestry of India. From the magical realism of Shashi Tharoor’s “The Great Indian Novel” to the poignant storytelling of Arundhati Roy in “The God of Small Things,” these works encapsulate a range of experiences and perspectives. The epic retellings in “Jaya” by Devdutt Pattanaik and “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri provide fresh insights into India’s mythological heritage, while contemporary stories filled with emotion, love, laughter, drama, and determination to perseverance like “The Unproposed Guy” by Bhavik Sarkhedi with debut author Suhana Bhambhani resonate with modern sensibilities.
Collectively, these novels not only entertain and educate but also invite readers into the heart of India’s literary excellence. They stand as a testament to the skill, depth, and diversity of Indian authors making significant contributions to both Indian and global literature. For anyone looking to delve into the world of Indian storytelling, this list of 10 novels by Indian authors in English is essential reading, offering a journey through the myriad hues of Indian life and imagination.