15 Best Novels by Indian Authors in English That Everyone Should Read
Though the Indian English literature is relatively new to the world, India has a very rich literary history in its native languages. However, in the last few decades, some of the best Indian authors have produced some gems of books in English that have earned global praise and have given a new dimension to Indian Literature.
Here is a list of 15 of the best novels by Indian authors that everyone should read at least once in lifetime.
1. The Guide by R. K. Narayan
The winner of the 1960 Sahitya Akademi Award, The Guide, definitely comes among the best novels by Indian Authors. The story is about a tour guide, Raju, who is the protagonist of the novel. It describes his transformation from a tour guide to a spiritual guide and then into one of the greatest holy men of India through a series of humorous and ironic circumstances.
The movie ‘Guide‘ released in 1965 and featuring the iconic actor Dev Anand, was based on this novel.
2. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
It’s not very often that an author’s debut novel gets him/her The Man Booker Prize. The God of Small Things was one of those great novels.
The story is about two children, Rahel and Esthappen who come to learn at a very young age about the horrifying truths of life. Their life gets infected by unexpected events and they are being tortured and blamed for every misfortune. The novel also holds wider stories of the political events that shape the state, their parents and relatives. This heart-aching story will definitely keep you hooked till the end and leave you searching for more!
3. Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
The book follows three generations of a Parsi family living in modern Mumbai. The book is both about family matters and why family matters. It is an honest exploration of family life. An exquisite novel that gives you an insight into the incredible importance of family.
4. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
This brilliantly written story, as told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a village boy, provides a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalized world. Over the course of seven nights in the story, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life—having nothing but his own wits to help him along. Clearly one of the best novels by Indian authors in English, this book is full of thought-provoking insights and wits.
5. A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy
One of the most beautiful story you will ever read. This book not only pleases the reader with a beautiful relationship between a grandfather and his grandson but it also successfully manages to weave a tale of intense and pure love and friendship between grandpa and Rohini, both of whom are amazing souls.
6. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Midnight’s Children is an epic novel by Salman Rushdie that opens up with a child being born at the midnight of 15th August 1947, the day when India was achieving independence from centuries of colonial British Rule. The story is based on actual historical events and narrated by the chief protagonist of the story, Saleem Sinai, at the time he lives with the newborn nation. The way Rushdie gives the account of the fictional events keeping the actual historical events intact is really amazing. This novel is surely one of the greatest novels by Indian authors of all time!
Midnight’s Children won the Booker prize as well as the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1981. It was also awarded the Booker of Bookers Prize in 1993 and The Best of Booker Prize in 2008 to celebrate the 25th and the 40th anniversary of Booker Prize respectively!
7. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
This book exposes the changes in Indian society from independence in 1947 to the Emergency called by Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. This magnificent novel, though a fictitious story, captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism of India.
8. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni
This novel is a rendition of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat, as told from the point of view of an amazing woman – Draupadi (Panchaali). It’s a very unique book and has added a very interesting touch to the epic.
9. The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor’s debut work of fiction, The Great Indian Novel, is essentially a retelling of the Indian epic Mahabharata with fictionalized but highly recognizable events and characters from twentieth-century Indian politics. It falls in the realm of political satire by drawing parallels with major events in India’s political history during the freedom movement as well as in the post-independence era.
10. Wings of Fire by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari
11. Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
The novel ‘Train to Pakistan‘ is one of the best Indian novels depicting the horrors and sufferings of the people during the partition of India. This heart-tearing story is based on the real events in a fictional town of Mano Majra.
The story shows how the brotherhood of two major communities was replaced by hatred overnight, triggered by the communal violence that erupted with the partition of India and Pakistan on a religious basis.
12. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
13. The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh
The Hungry Tide, set amidst the lush foliage of mangrove forests, tells us about the history and lives of people who inhabit the numerous islands of Sunderbans in the Bay of Bengal. It tells us about the river dolphins, the man-eater tigers of the tide country, the sea and the legends that float in these waters and forests. It reminds us of the fragility of human life and the helplessness that comes with it.
14. Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi
This novel is based on the principles and story of the legendary Chanakya. It presents a gripping tale of wisdom, wit and mind-boggling political strategies. The novel has two parts. In the first part, it takes readers to ancient India where a simple but extraordinarily smart Brahmin helps an Indian ruler to combat ‘Alexander, the great’; while the second half is set in contemporary India. This interesting and engaging read is surely one of the best novels by Indian Authors.
15. Swami and Friends by R. K. Narayan
An absolutely delightful read. Swami and Friends offers a refreshing view of village life in early 20th century pre-independence India, seen from the perspective of a ten-year-old in all his innocence. The story is set in the small fictitious town of Malgudi.
Excellent description, great sense of humor and the child’s blithe spirit pervades the whole book, bringing you alternately to laughter, joy, and vexation
So, this was the list of 15 of the Best Novels by Indian Authors. Few preferences may definitely vary from person to person, but these are surely among the great works by the Indian authors. Do read them at least once if you haven’t already. And if you are still searching for reasons to start reading, here is an article on 17 REASONS WHY READING IS IMPORTANT to keep you motivated for reading.