Saturdays @ the South: Indian Literature

As a practitioner of yoga, I’ve had several yoga teachers who have gone to India to both develop their practice and tour. Honestly, I’m a bit jealous, having already established that I have a sense of wanderlust. The nation of India sounds exotic and enticing, but it’s often difficult to reconcile this idealistic traveler’s notion to the Imperialized and turbulent history of this country.

To those who live there and have emigrated from there, I’m certain that India is more than chai, henna and the Taj Mahal. There are numerous individualized cultures, plus a much more recently emerging national culture and I think we owe it to a nation that’s becoming increasingly present in world affairs to familiarize ourselves with it a bit more. Naturally, there would be no better way than by traveling and becoming immersed in the culture, but for those of us who have neither the means nor the time for such a cultural education, traveling by book is often the way to go.

So here are some options of books by Indian authors, that can give us just a taste of the vast culture that lies in India:

The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh

Set in Calcutta in the 1960s, this story follows an English and Indian family whose lives intertwine in both tragic and comic ways. Buzzfeed Books says that Ghosh “brilliantly intertwines the traditions, cultures and histories of people from across the world, and paints a picture of a combined consciousness.”

A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul

The description for this books sounds like those who enjoyed A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman may enjoy this. Mr. Biswas is a classic anti-hero who spends his life searching for his own independence and trying to find a place to call his own.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

This book is, at its heart a love story set in the newly independent India of the 1950s. Seth weaves a lush tale of the lives, loves and losses of four extended families who are linked by Lata and her mother’s search for a suitable boy for Lata to marry.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This Booker Prize-winning book is set in 1969 in Kerala (a state in the South of India) and features young fraternal twins Rahel and Estha as they struggle to create a childhood for themselves amidst their family falling apart. Storypick calls this book a “masterpiece” that “explores the full range of human emotion.”

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta

This non-fiction pick is a Pulitzer Prize finalist that gives readers an insider’s view into modern Mumbai (formerly Bombay) taking them from Bollywood do the underworld. India Times calls it “one of the best books written on India’s very favorite metropolis.”

That’s all for this week, dear readers. Till next week, I hope your reading takes you somewhere warm, and possibly less snowy!

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