Books to Read Before You Go To India

by Edward Mack

Mar 21, 2015

City Palace of Udaipur, India © Minyun Zhou | Dreamstime


India’s rich history and diverse culture provide a rich tapestry for bookworms.From the country in which more than a thousand languages and dialects are spoken, come about a thousand books worthy of being mentioned here. However, for the sake of space, here are the six that will best help you get a grasp of what it means to be Indian.


The God of the Small Things – Arundhati Roy

Roy’s debut novel won her the Booker Prize in 1997, coincidentally the same year India celebrated 50 years of independence.


Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie © Jason W. Upton | Flickr

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie © Jason W. Upton | Flickr


Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

Rushdie’s most famous work, and one of this century’s finest, is the story of India’s independence from British colonialism. Or, if you want something a little more controversial, try The Satanic Verses, which almost got Rushdie murdered.


Kadambari – Bana

India’s answer to The Arabian Nights, this seventh-century text is narrated by a parrot and features stories told within stories to tell the romance between a princess and the moon god.


A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry © Arvind Grover | Flickr

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry © Arvind Grover | Flickr


A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

Four strangers are forced to share an apartment in 1975 in Mistry’s moving portrait of India at a critical time during the state of emergency. The novel questions how to move a society from corrupt and festering to healthy and prosperous.


The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai, daughter of famed novelist Anita Desai, pens her own masterpiece with The Inheritance of Loss. It is look at the consequences of colonialism and modernity upon the individual.


For further reading, check out Ahmed Ali’s Twilight in Delhi, Anita Desai’s Fire on the Mountain and, of course, Vatsyayana’s Kama Sutra.



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