Favorite Indian Authors

This World Book Day is an opportune time to list down my favorite Indian Authors who write in English along with some of their memorable books.. And yes – Chetan Bhagat, Amish or Ashwin Sanghvi don’t feature in there! 

The list is in no particular order, and has a mixed bag of both fiction and non fiction.. And I have not included authors who primarily write in other Indian languages and could have also written in English at times..

1. Jhumpa Lahiri – Her writing style is easy, crisp and yet beautifully layared.. Love the way she gets us to connect with all her characters… ‘Namesake’ still remains the most favorite, closely followed by ‘Interpreter of Maladies’.. I have not been able to read her last 2 books yet, which were non-fiction.. I do need to..

2. Amitava Ghosh – Sometimes poetic, Ghosh thrives on being rhetorical but never loses relevance.. ‘The Hungry Tide’ still stays on for such evocative writing style and so does ‘Shadow Lines’.. I was disappointed by his Ibis trilogy though and hence did not continue beyond the first volume..

3. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – The sense of visuals in her stories is extremely strong and so are her central characters.. Absolutely loved her take on Mahabharata from Draupadi’s viewpoint that constituted ‘The Palace of Illusions’.. Her ‘Sister of my Heart’ or the more recent ‘Before we visit the Goddess’ have been very powerful reads too..

4. Rohinton Mistry – His stories delve deep into the lives of Parsi families in various kinds of setups, and the reader instantly connects with them because of his fluid narrative.. ‘A Fine Balance’ has been a personal favorite, ahead of the rest..

5. Ruskin Bond – Yes he is of British descent, but he is an Indian Author in every way.. Its very difficult to single out one writing of his, they are all so good… His first novel ‘The room on the roof’ is in recent memories, and I can go back to it again anytime to its simplicity..

6. Siddhartha Mukherjee – ‘The emperor of all Maladies’, the autobiography of cancer was an extremely moving account, and possibly impacted even more as I was going through a very difficult journey at that time.. His triumph as a writer lies in the fact that he can make even subjects like this very pacy reads in spite of dealing with some heavy scientific research.. His next book on The Gene is sitting pretty on my book-shelf waiting to be read.. I must get to it quickly…

7. Suketu Mehta – If Cities could be characters, there would be none like Mumbai as described in his ‘Maximum City’.. Outstanding is the word, and how! I have not read anything more of him.. Why didn’t I?

8. Devdutt Pattnaik – It takes a lot of creativity to present mythology through a brand new outlook, and Pattnaik has done exactly that! One would have known Mahabharata and its characters in so many ways, and yet ‘Jaya’ retells it fresh and never lets its grip get loose! Need to read more of him..

There are a few other authors whom I have enjoyed reading, though it will still not be right to place them along with the list above.. Twinkle Khanna has been absolutely gorgeous as ‘Mrs Funnybones’; Preeti Shenoy stands a much more concrete ground on feel good romances with books like ‘Tea for two and a piece of cake’ far more than the other umpteen authors of this genre; Karan Mahajan was striking with his latest novel ‘The association of small bombs’; Manju Kapoor left a mark with ‘Custody’; Kavita Kane got the reader connect in her ‘Karna’s wife’ right; Shashi Tharoor’s ‘The Great Indian Novel’ was an interesting read and so far Apurva Purohit’s ‘Lady, you’re Not a Man’…

May this list only grow richer.. What would the world be without good books!

The association of small bombs leaves you thinking..

The association of small bombs by Karan Mahajan reflects deeply on the aftermath of everyday terrorism both from the perspective of the victim’s families, the survivors and the assaulters.. ‘Small’ is a keyword here because the larger attacks at least get the desired media attention and relative judicial urgency, but the devastation of impacted lives by the smaller crude bombings of ‘just another attack’ is equally severe and goes unnoticed! We live the lives of the Khuranas who lose both their sons on an unfortunate chance visit to a busy marketplace, and how deeply it impacts them and how weird can life make them act to cope with the insurmountable pain! We feel the confusion of the Ahmeds who survive the attack but live with physical, mental and emotional cripples ever after! And then we get the perspectives of the bomb makers diving deep into both the wild and humane sides of their stories! The narrative makes us feel the tragedy and pain of all impacted lives, and blurs the lines between the right and wrong side of things in each individual journey with fine sensitivity.. Mahajan though falters a little towards the end trying to tie back the loose strings in a haste thereby leaving the reader short-changed! But even then, its a vivid moving account of our dark contemporary times and justifies its tag of being amongst the best works of fiction in 2016..

Before We Visit The Goddess – connects at multiple levels

Before We Visit The Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a very powerful tale of three women separated by generations, continents, ambition and values of life, and yet united by uncommitted bonds of love, longing for homely bliss, vulnerabilities of impulsive decision making, and above all by loneliness of exiles.. The narrative aided by very powerful language of the author creates very relatable yet mystic worlds of Sabitri, Bela and Tara across a timescape of about seventy years and shifts effortlessly from the bengal countryside to the streets of Austin and Houston.. Its easy to visualise the worlds of these women like a moving picture because the setup of their lives is painted well through the intricate details, as much as their rise and fall in their relationships, struggles of life and their unwillingness to give it up is detailed out beautifully.. A reader could easily find a slice of their own lives in one emotion or the other of these flesh and blood mother and daughter characters, whose relationship can’t even be called amicable most of the times and yet find great source of strength in each other and their virtual bond.. The non-linear style of narrative adds to the reader’s intrigue and keeps us hooked till the end..

Its a must read for all who have loved Banerjee’s other stories like ‘Sister of my heart’ or ‘Vine of desire’ or her masterpiece ‘The palace of Illusions’, and even for others who enjoy reading simple and yet deep tales of people who exist in and around us with all their vulnerabilities and solitude.. I had a great time with the book!

Director’s Diaries – Inspires dreams

Directors Diaries was a fascinating read! From Govind Nihalani to Vishal Bharadwaj, from Mahesh Bhatt to Imtiaz Ali, from Farah Khan to Zoya Akhtar, the book traverses the initial years of a dozen famous directors, their growing up years, struggles to how they landed up with their first films, and what is their style of working like.. From interesting personal insights to their fears and weaknesses that they worked on as film makers, these interviews are good reference points on cinema and their creators..
Consistently almost all the directors had atleast good ten years (some stretching up to twenty) from when they started working as assistant directors or copywriters or production assistants to full length feature directors and they never gave up!

Motivation enough for aspiring creative folks to continue chasing their dream in addition for them to pick up some tips and experiences of creating cinema!!

The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad – isn’t legendary enough

The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad was quite a disappointing read, especially coming after the extremely witty first book by Mrs Funny Bones! While the first book was packed with real life humor and wit in almost every line and had an extremely interesting style of narration; almost all the stories of this book failed in connecting! Of the four ‘Salaam Noni Appa’ was still the one that carries the reader along, followed by some simplistic and yet positive narration of the title story; the last story on which the max number of pages were devoted turned out to be most unappealing due to its weird story telling! Twinkle Khanna is still brilliant as Mrs Funnybones in her TOI columns, and possibly the good Indian reader will look fwd to more of her column compilations coming out as books for the future as well!