Khaled Hosseini, Haruki Murakami, and Anton Chekov can be seen grappling for a position on every bookshelf. Beginning with Harry Potter as a child and progressing to Fifty Shades of Grey and Vampire Diaries, readers constantly seek to learn more. Though the goal of encouraging reading is being met, it is natural to wonder why Indian novels do not find a place among them.
This is primarily due to the stereotype that Indian literature is only about clichéd love stories, premarital sex, postmarital sex, love at first sight, etc. Teenagers and young people today believe these novels are the face of Indian literature because of the publishers’ aggressive marketing to make them “National Bestsellers.” You can read those novels if you want to, and it’s okay to like cliched fiction too. But bringing forth the “real” Indian literature is the key challenge.
Best Indian Authors And Their Books!
Indian literature is magic in itself. It is a vast and diversified collection of writings covering various genres, themes, and styles like fiction, non-fiction, poems, dramas, and whatnot. There is also a strong heritage of modern Indian literature in several languages, including Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and English. Numerous Indian authors have received praise for their works on a global scale, and their literature is still read and researched today. In addition to winning Sahitya Academy Awards, many Indian authors have also won the Booker Prize.
Thus it is imperative that we at least attempt Indian literature. Here is a list of famous Indian authors (in no particular order) you should try.
1. R.K. Narayan
Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, who wrote under the name R.K. Narayan, was an Indian author from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He was a notable early English-language author of Indian literature. R.K. Narayan’s writing style is observational social commentary with a hint of realism. Malgudi, a fictional town, was the backdrop for most of his books. His narratives and language center on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. He has many novels and short stories to his credit.
A few of his famous books include:
- The Guide
- Malgudi Days
- Swami and Friends
- Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories
- The English Teacher
2. Ruskin Bond
Ruskin Bond was born in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh. He is famous for his simplistic writing style, which is more connected to nature and its visual beauty. Many of his books feature Rusty, a teenager who is a literary alter ego of himself. His tales focused on finding optimism and hope in daily life. While affectionately referred to as the “Children’s author,” he explored various genres, including fiction, romance, non-fiction, autobiography, essays, etc.
If you are looking forward to reading simple yet enjoyable books, here are a few of them:
3. Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore, a revered poet, novelist, singer, and painter from Bengal, is one of the most well-known authors in India. He is also known by the names Gurudev and Biswakabi. He received widespread praise for his poetry collection Gitanjali and became the first Indian to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Although Tagore is most known for his poetry, he also wrote many songs, travelogues, essays, and short stories. As most of his writings were about ordinary people and their daily life, they are still relevant. Tagore also bestowed Gandhi with the prestigious title of “Mahatma” and wrote India’s national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana.”
If you are looking forward to reading the literature of yesteryears, here are some of his famous literary works:
Nilanjana Sudeshna Lahiri, better known as “Jhumpa Lahiri,” was born to Bengali parents before moving to London. As a result, she is commonly referred to as the Indian-American author. She has written extensively on immigrants, Americans, and Bengalis, although her characters essentially cross cultural boundaries. The majority of the time, she incorporates simple words and phrases into complicated, innovative writing styles. Her books are primarily about loneliness and failing marriages, which makes them fall more on the emotional side.
Her famous works are:
C. Viruthachalam was born in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, and is best known by his pen name Pudhumaipithan. He was one of the first Tamil writers whose characters spoke the Tirunelveli dialect, as his family was from Thirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. Despite his short literary career, he was a pioneering and prominent writer of Tamil fiction. He is known for his writing style, characterized by sarcasm and satire. He has published several essays, poems, short stories, and translations of well-known literature.
If you are looking for light and funny reads, you can go ahead with the following books:
- Pudhumaipithan Sirukathaigal
- Puthumaipithan Katturaigal
- Pudhumaipithan Mozhipeyarpugal
- Naradha Ramayanam
- Eppothum Mudivile Inbam
Born in Kolkatta, West Bengal, Chitralekha Banerjee is known by her pen name, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. She is an Indian-American novelist who has written several books, poems, and short stories. One of India’s diasporic female writers, she portrays the experiences of those who don’t belong anywhere—neither in their homeland nor where they currently reside. She is renowned for portraying women realistically, including their problems and ambitions passed down through the generations. Apart from that, her perseverance to become a writer inspires those who aspire to be authors.
Here is a list of some of her famous works:
- The Palace Of Illusions
- Grandma and the Great Gourd
- The Mistress of Spices
- The Conch Bearer
- The Forest of Enchantments
7. Mulk Raj Anand
English author Mulk Raj Anand was born in Peshawar (Currently it is in Pakistan). His works were known for capturing the lives of outcasts and low-caste individuals, as he despised the orthodox constraints imposed on them. As a progressive writer, he frequently his expectation of a painted a fair and upright picture of society. His works were less concerned with imagery and beautiful depictions and more with the harsh facts of life.
If you are looking forward to reading books that make you think and reflect on society, here are some of his most recognized works:
- The Private Life of an Indian Prince
- Greatest Short Stories: Mulk Raj Anand
- Across the Black Waters
C. S. Lakshmi, known as Ambai, was born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. She identifies as a feminist not only via her writing but also through her way of life. For years, she has been viewed as a voice for hundreds and thousands of Indian women who have been oppressed for centuries. Her female protagonists frequently make metaphorical and symbolic connections between themselves and their situations. Her stories typically deal with complicated relationships, male dominance, and self-analysis. She has several short stories, novels, and novellas to her credit.
If you are looking for powerful stories, here is a list of Ambai’s best works:
- Ambai Kathaigal
- Amma Oru Kolai Seithal
- Veetin Moolaiyil Oru Samayalarai
- Oru Karupu Silanthiyudan Oru Iravu
- Sivappu Kazhuthudan Oru Pachai Paravai
Khushal Singh was born in Hadali, Punjab (Now in Pakistan), and goes by the pen name Khushwant Singh. In addition to being an Indian novelist, he is a politician, journalist, lawyer, and editor. Khushwant Singh has authored several works about social and political issues in India. His novels on India’s freedom struggle and partition are informative and interesting. He primarily uses the common person’s viewpoint while writing about society and its unpleasant truths.
If you are looking forward to reading informational books, here is a list of Khushwant Singh’s famous works:
- The Portrait of a Lady: Collected Stories
- Train to Pakistan
- Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiyat: Reflections on a Land and its People
- Women and Men in My Life
- India: An introduction
10. Arundhati Roy
Suzanna Arundhati Roy, known by the pen name Arundhati Roy, belongs to Shillong, Meghalaya. She was a prominent person in Indian literature and activism. She follows a complex narrative style and makes the most of literary devices. Through the eyes of her characters, she portrays the typical Indian socio-economic backdrop. Exploring the themes like social injustices, political conflicts, and human nature, her works are relevant across the world.
If you are a fan of influential political books, here is a list that fits your needs:
- The God of Small Things
- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
- Capitalism: A Ghost Story
- The Doctor and the Saint
- Walking with the Comrades
Dhanpat Rai Srivastava, known by his pen name Munshi Premchand was born in Lamhi, Banaras state (Present day Uttar Pradesh). He was a renowned Indian writer and novelist who wrote in Hindi and Urdu. He is recognized as one of the best writers in Indian literature and one of the first writers in Hindi to include realism in his works. His novels mostly describe the problems of poor people. He wrote about prostitution, poverty, child marriage and widowhood, corruption, and the Indian freedom movement.
Here are a few of his well-known books:
12. Kamala Das
Kamala Surayya, popularly known by her pen name Kamala Das and Madhavikutty, was a renowned writer from Thrissur, Kerala. She wrote in both English and Malayalam. She is famous for her explicit writing, and many of her works featured sex, sexuality, female desires, and lesbianism. In addition to writing books and poetry, she also worked as a columnist, sharing her views on various topics. She was also one of the first female writers to freely discuss women’s longings and desires for men in their works.
If you are looking forward to reading sensual works, here is a list of the famous works of Kamala Das:
- Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories
- My Story
- Madhavikkuttiyude Novellakal
- Neermathalam Pootha Kalam
- Nashtapetta Neelambari
13. Anita Desai
Anita Mazumdar is from Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, and goes by the pen name Anita Desai. She is well-known for her psychological type of writing, in which she “tells it as it is.” Her story unfolds through the eyes of her protagonists, who have deep routed issues. The themes in her novels include identity crises, marital problems, dysfunctional families, etc. Kiran Desai, her daughter, is another well-known writer of Indian literature.
If you are looking forward to reading books with a touch of psychology, here are Anita Desai’s notable works:
14. A. K. Ramanujan
Attipate Krishnaswami Ramanujan, known by the pen name A.K. Ramanujan, was born in Mysore, Karnataka. As an Indo-American writer, Ramanujan knows both the homeland and foreign cultures. His multicultural poems represent his perspectives on other cultures and norms. His poems also help people connect with their roots. A poem called “A River,” which describes a typical summer in Madurai, is one of the best examples.
If you are looking forward to reading short and sweet poems and tales, here is your list:
- The Interior Landscape: Classical Tamil Love Poems
- The Collected Poems of A.K. Ramanujan
- Folktales from India
- A Flowering Tree And Other Oral Tales from India
- Journeys: Pages from My Diary – A Poet’s Diary
15. Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh, born in Kolkatta, West Bengal, is one of the most renowned English writers. He is skilled at blending history with imagination, as depicted in his books. His writing utilizes sophisticated English and has the finest writing style. He connects the characters across physical and characteristic boundaries in his stories. He has written about many topics, including the war, its aftermath and destruction, the civilizations, and socio-political conflicts.
If you are looking forward to reading impactful books, here is your list:
The list mentioned above is just a drop. Indian literature is an ocean. The deeper we go, the rarer the gems we find. But if you are a complete beginner, you can choose one book for each author and decide what suits you. Happy reading!
I am a freelance content writer and book reviewer who loves unleashing creativity, one pen stroke at a time. I like reading and writing about what I read. In an attempt to explore and introduce Tamil and Indian literature. Welcome to my world!