Most of us are familiar with the works of Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, and Kiran Desai. However, there are many authors of Indian origin living abroad, who have written equally poignant and important works. Take a look at some of these authors and their books which explore themes such as political unrest, World War II, and tragic love. This list forms part of The Extraordinary Reading Challenge 2018.

01

The Lives of Others

Neel Mukherjee

This book was shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize and DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Through the fictional Ghosh family, Mukherjee provides us a window to 1960s Calcutta, before it was Kolkata. He explores the dangers of inequality of wealth, Marxism and political unrest, and family drama- all in one sweeping, grand story.

Buy it here.

02

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India

Sujatha Gidla

Gidla‘s 2017 memoir shook the world by bringing to light the reality of the caste system in modern India. Many people living in the metros don’t realise that a large part of India still grapples with untouchability. According to Gidla, till she moved to the U.S. at the age of 26, she didn’t think it was possible to not be judged because of her caste. This book is a must-read for all Indians who think the caste system is a problem of the past.

Buy it here.

03

Gifted

Nikita Lalwani

An exceptionally touching tale, Gifted is the story of a young math prodigy, Rumi, who struggles with her own desire to lead a ‘normal’ life, a mother who longs for her homeland, and a father who in his desire to nurture his daughter’s talents, ends up making life difficult for her. Lalwani’s debut novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Buy it here.

04

The Book of Gold Leaves

Mirza Waheed

Shortlisted for the DSC Prize, this book is almost a follow-up to Waheed’s extremely successful 2011 novel, The Collaborator. A haunting love story between a Shia man and a Sunni woman, this book is set in a politically divided, war-torn Kashmir. Simultaneously telling the story of both its protagonists, the book traverses India and Pakistan, leaving us with the heart-breaking tale of what religious zeal can do to a young romance.

Buy it here.

05

Age of Anger: A History of the Present

Pankaj Mishra

Political essayist and novelist in equal measures, Pankaj Mishra’s latest work of non-fiction is a necessary read to understand the changed dynamics of the modern world and the resurgence of nationalism, individualism, and xenophobia. Using the teachings of various philosophical luminaries and his own interpretation, Mishra explores the threads that connect world changing-events like Trump being elected as President of the U.S., Brexit, and the rise of ISIS.

Buy it here.

06

Around India in 80 Trains

Monisha Rajesh

British journalist, Monisha Rajesh, decided to travel around India by train, and ended up covering a distance of more than 40,000 km! This book reads far more than a standard travelogue, as Rajesh injects the book with her trademark humour and wit while describing the host of characters she meets on her journey.

Buy it here.

07

Friend of My Youth

Amit Chaudhuri

Author, poet, essayist, editor and literary critic, Amit Chaudhuri is prolific to say the least. His 7th fictional novel, Friend of My Youth, is a story about the ‘city that never sleeps’, Bombay (the author makes it a point to refer to the city as Bombay, and not Mumbai through the book). The story is narrated by a novelist, also named Amit Chaudhari, but this is not an autobiography. On the surface, it is a man’s hunt for a long lost friend, but dig deeper and it’s a work dedicated to the evolution of Bombay into Mumbai.

Buy it here.

08

All About H Hatterr

G. V. Desani

This 1948 novel should be considered a classic but not many people have read it. Salman Rushdie himself has admitted that he has ‘learnt a trick or two’ from Desani’s work. The only novel by Kenyan born, British educated Desani, is a fine example of modernist literature, telling the story of an Anglo-Malay gentleman’s quest for spirituality.

Buy it here.

09

Family Life

Akhil Sharma

PEN/Hemingway award winner Akhil Sharma’s second novel made it to the 2014 New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year list. A semi-autobiographical tale, the book’s protagonist, Ajay Mishra immigrates to the U.S. at the tender age of 8. Once there, he experiences his parent’s ‘Americanization’, issues settling in, and a tragic accident which leaves his brother brain-damaged. It is no surprise this coming-of-age book was shortlisted for the DSC prize.

Buy it here.

10

The Tiger Claw

Shauna Singh Baldwin

Set during World War II, this novel is in equal parts a nail-biting thriller and a grand love story. In her quest to save her Jewish lover from death in a concentration camp, the Muslim protagonist of the book turns into a spy, taking on many different identities and faces betrayal from her closest allies.

Buy it here.

Tell us about other Indian authors living abroad who you enjoy? Do you think they view and write about India differently? Share with us in the comments below.

Nirbhay Kanoria

Nirbhay Kanoria

As a young boy, Nirbhay had the annoying habit of waking up at 5 a.m. Since television was a big no-no, he had no choice but to read to entertain himself and that is how his love affair with books began. A true-blue Piscean, books paved the path to his fantasy worlds- worlds he’d often rather stay in.