Indian Fiction—The Authors You Simply Must Read

Written by Nazneen JoshiSep 16, 2014
If when we say Indian fiction and Chetan Bhagat is the first (and maybe terrifyingly, the only) name you can think of, we’ve got a problem. And it’s a problem that one too many are guilty of possessing. If there is one thing that we, Indians, as a culture should be proud of, it’s our stories and our passion to tell them. Which is why, today BeBEAUTIFUL is here to bring to attention five stellar Indian authors that you might not have heard of, but who have penned some remarkable stories. We’ll tell you what they wrote and why it’s something that needs to be added to your reading list.

indian fiaction authors books must read 430x550

Akhil Sharma

Akhil Sharma is the author of Family Life and An Obedient Father. The novelist once said, “I find that somehow, in fiction, sound, texture and smell are stickier, lingering more than visual details.” What he does in his work depicts just that. Instead of boring the reader with pages upon pages of meticulous detail and visual imagery, he provides them with snippets of experience that gives the reader a thorough understanding of the characters psychology which inhibits them from questioning their behaviour, albeit with little literal information on the character and their relationships. This comes at the crux of his work, making for an exhilarating read—often missed in Indian fiction.

indian fiaction authors books must read 430x550

Must Read: Family Life

The novel tells a story of an Indian family that comes to America in 1979 and two years later suffer a terrible tragedy. The family has two children—two boys, 10 and 14. The older boy dives into a pool and strikes his head on the cement bottom. He lies stunned underwater for three minutes. When the boy is pulled out, he has suffered catastrophic brain damage: he can no longer walk or talk; he can’t roll over in his sleep; he has to be fed through a tube. After the brain-damaged boy spends a year in a hospital and a year in a nursing home, the family decides to take him home and take care of him themselves. This causes the family to collapse.

All of this, more or less, happened to Akhil’s family, making this a novel about remembering. In attempting to put that raw emotion on paper is something that makes this novel a hard one to set-aside.

indian fiaction authors books must read 430x550

Deepti Kapoor

Deepti Kapoor was born in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, and grew up in Bombay, Bahrain and Dehradun. In 1997, she went to the University of Delhi to study journalism and later completed an MA in Social Psychology. She spent the next decade working for various publications, driving around the city, finding stories and learning its streets. She now lives in Goa.

indian fiaction authors books must read 430x550

Must Read: A Bad Character

Deepti’s A Bad Character is the story of Idha, a young woman who finds escape from an arranged marriage and security that her middle-class world has to offer through a chance encounter with a charismatic, dangerous young man. She is quickly exposed to the thrilling, often illicit pleasures that both the city, Delhi, and her body can hold. But as the affair continues, and her double life deepens, her lover’s increasingly unstable behaviour carries them past the point of no return, where grief, love and violence threaten to transform his madness into her own.

A novel about female desire, A Bad Character shows us a Delhi we have not seen in fiction before: a city awash with violence, rage and corruption.

indian fiaction authors books must read 430x550

Tishani Doshi

Born in Madras in 1975, Tishani Doshi has published five books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. In 2012, she represented India at the historic gathering of world poets for Poetry Parnassus at the Southbank Centre, London. She is also the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award for Poetry, winner of the All-India Poetry Competition, and her first book, Countries of the Body, won the prestigious Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

Tishani's debut novel, The Pleasure Seekers was shortlisted for the Hindu Literary Prize and long-listed for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

She currently lives on a beach between two fishing villages in Tamil Nadu with her husband and three dogs.

indian fiaction authors books must read 430x550

Must Read: The Pleasure Seekers

Praise doesn’t get better than an endorsement from Salman Rushdie now, does it? Here’s what he said about this book, “This is a captivating, delightful novel. I was totally engaged by Tishani Doshi's people and by their world, and the language often rises – when speaking of the great matters, life, death, and above all love – to powerful metaphorical heights.”

indian fiaction authors books must read 430x550

Cyrus Mistry

Brother of the celebrated Rohinton Mistry, Cyrus Mistry began his writing career as a playwright, journalist and short-story writer. His play, Doongaji House, written when he was 21, has acquired seminal status in contemporary Indian theatre in English. One of Mistry’s short stories, Percy, was made into a Gujarati feature film and went on the win the national award for the best Gujarati film in 1989. He published his first novel, The Radiance of Ashes, in 2005 and Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer (2013) is his second novel, which tells the story of the Khandhias within the Parsi community who carry the bodies of the dead to the Towers of Silence.

indian fiaction authors books must read 430x550

Must Read: Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer

Robin Shukla from Afternoon, Despatch & Courier writes, “Cyrus Mistry’s narration blends measured doses of black humour, irony and tragedy. His characters are real people, and stay with the reader way after the last page has been turned.” The claustrophobic little doll’s-house world of the Mumbai Paris’s complete with their curious obsessions and quirk is what is depicted in the novel. With running themes of love and loss interspersed with tangled tales of family intrigue, betrayal, revenge, forbidden love, prostitution and even necrophilia. Brilliant and unsettling.

Nazneen Joshi

Written by

As the esteemed Dorothy Parker once said "living well is the best revenge" and I take that piece of advice to heart. A babe in the woods for all things theatrical--I like to see drama in the mundane. Fresh off the yacht into this editorial world, I look forward to bringing in a fresh, beautiful perspective.

Shop This Story