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India ..a country of diversity. What makes it? Who makes it? How does it run? Who are the people living here?
Meanwhile you are staying at home and we are fighting the pandemic, you can travel this great country via books. Armchair Travel India with these books and experience the real India.
The following six novels will help you understand India a little better. I have tried to cover every facet of India through the titles given below:
The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga
The debut novel of Arvind Adiga and winner of 40th Man Booker Prize is a tale of a boy emerging from “darkness” to be “ The White Tiger”.
Munna is street smart, eavesdrop on “right conversation” and chooses to be a part rather than a victim of the corrupt world. He calls himself a successful entrepreneur who did come out of ‘Great Rooster Coop of Indian Society’ and did justification to the title given by his schoolmaster i.e,“The White Tiger”- an animal that arrives once in a generation. A book is an extraordinary approach to present India minus glory. If you are looking for something raw and different, this book will definitely keep you engaged till its last page.
Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
While talking about India, we cannot miss the great epic, Mahabharata for its richness and of course its wide appeal. Chitra Divakaruni’s Palace of Illusions is a wonderful attempt at retelling the story. Named after Panchali aka Draupadi’s majestic palace, the book is “half history, half myth, and wholly magical”. The best part about the book is that Mahabharata has been presented through the eyes of a woman. The choice of Draupadi as the narrator not only brings a feminist aspect to the great epic but also questions the patriarchal authority. The world as seen by the eyes of Draupadi will stay with you always. A woman born out of the fire ruled one of the magical palaces and who is held responsible for the great battle of Mahabharata justifies her deeds and leaves you thrilled.
City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple
Dalrymple explores the city of Delhi. He hunts the past fallen rulers to the pure Urdu from Delhi’s streets. The book is proof of Dalrymple’s love for Delhi. If he talks about Mughals, he also presents the Delhi Britishers created. He beautifully narrates how Delhi has always opened its arms to never-ending refugees and accepted various cultures to its bosom. Dalrymple’s account of Delhi is about every single bit of it. Right from its streets, cuisines, traditions to its Hijra community, the book is an impressive product of research and adventure.
The book is a perfect pick if you wanna smell the true aroma of Delhi and its past.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Jawaharlal Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny” was accompanied by 1,001 children born at the midnight hour blessed with some magical powers. Saleem Sinai is one of them. A family saga set on the backdrop of India in the 20th century is Rushdie’s unique way of telling the history of partition and emergency through facts and magic. The writer throughout the narrative never makes it less magical. This historical fiction is intelligent, informative and brought Rushdie various awards due to its imagined yet real aspect. The protagonist Saleem Sinai is seen playing an optimist but various situations begin to shatter his hopes of good days.
This book is beyond words. You are surprised after every few pages. No suspense works in the background but each revelation grips you more towards it.
India After Gandhi: The history if World’s Largest Democracy by Ramchandra Guha
A book on modern Indian history; but not like an ordinary history textbook. Guha has always been regarded as one of the widely read historians. If you want to find out why? This book has no substitute. An unbiased account of India’s history talks about everything which might affect your understanding of India as a country. This epic like narration offers insights into all the major and minor events like partition, independence, riots, the assassination of leaders, tribal problems, war with neighbouring countries, political parties, foreign policies and what not?
If this book throws light on the pain and struggles, it doesn’t ignore the glories and failures at the same time.
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
A love story set in the early 1950s or a story of ordinary lives caught in the web of love and ambition, humour and sadness, prejudice and reconciliation.
The book revolves around four middle-class families and talks about India’s ‘caste system’. Along with that, it comments on India’s marriage obsession, its customs, religions and traditions. The beauty of this book arises due to the interaction of its characters, it’s mundane routine and its simple yet grasping words. The book is written in simple language depicting the complexities of Indian culture and society. This book seems an ordinary story but deep inside it is all the mechanism we are part of as a society.
This book is a great insight into India and its middle class’ daily lives. If you enjoy reading lives, this is something you shouldn’t miss.
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