I: Indian Authors #AToZChallenge


I must confess, the first Indian author I ever read was Chetan Bhagat. With a start this awesome, you can imagine how the rest of the journey would be. To be honest, I liked his first book 'Five Point Someone'. Maybe it was to do with the fact that I was doing my engineering at that point of time. The book was decent enough and I sincerely feel that '3 Idiots' was totally inspired by this book no matter what the production house chose to say. After reading mysteries and thrillers, a slice of life book felt good at that point of time. 'One Night At A Call Center' was such a disaster that I did not know if I should laugh or cry for choosing to read this book. 'Three Mistakes Of My Life' turned out to be a huge mistake in my life, but I did enjoy 'Kai Po Che'. The movie was a million times better than the book here. I read '2 States' because I was dating a guy from the North back then and I did like the book. It did not work out for me in real life, but atleast the book had a happy ending. The movie was pretty decent too, irrespective of having Arjun Kapoor in it.

After this, I picked up its parody '2 Fates' by Judy Balan. Not that Chetan Bhagat had set very high expectations when it comes to Indian authors, but I was just intrigued. I hated this book from the word go. There was so much of sex in this book and for no reason. I gave up Indian authors after that for the 100th time. There is something very not clean about Indian author books. Either the concept is very juvenile or the execution is. I had sworn off Indian authors much earlier but as and when some book came into the highlight, curiosity got the better out of me. But after this, I had sworn off Indian authors for good. Then I made a huge mistake by signing on for a book review program for a famous blogging community. Mostly, they only give out Indian author books and the first book that I got for review was 'Sita's Curse'.

Until then, this book was being spoken about so much as the first book to bring out the concept of female sexuality and desires and every one was giving it 4 or 5 stars. Since I had to review the book in a week, I finished it in two sittings. I am not lying when I say this but reading this book actually made me want to puke. A lot. There is no denying that Indian authors use sex to sell their books. But this one was something else altogether. The protagonist in this book has sex with almost every male in the book with the excuse of wanting to explore her sexuality. Clearly, worst book ever! The other books that I received for review were no less either. One was worse than the other and the number of terrible books in my list grew higher and higher. Most of them were Indian books and the reasons were pretty obvious.

During this time, Rasleen Syal got in touch with me on Goodreads and later on Facebook to ask me if I would review her debut novel 'Happily Murdered'. Since it was a murder mystery, I agreed. I was pleasantly surprised by the book. The writing was sophisticated and the story was brilliant. With a limited number of characters, the mystery intertwined itself beautifully and came to a near perfect conclusion. I'm eagerly waiting for her next book. Then I read 'The Palace Of Illusions' and was blown away. What a beautiful way to tell a very popular story. I haven't read any other book from Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni yet, but 'The Mistress Of Spices' is on my list. Sharath Komarraju is another Indian author whose books I enjoy reading. They are very well researched and the story always grips the reader. I discovered Anita Nair very late and fell in love with her writing when I read 'Mistress'. Such a beautiful tale it was! The writing was brilliant and the references to kathakali was interesting. But then I read 'Lessons In Forgetting' and was back to square one.

It is not that Indian authors are not good. I have loved each and every book of Jhumpa Lahiri. There is an earthiness in her writing and that makes you want to read more of her. But then again, she calls herself an American author. When I read Arundhati Roy's 'The God Of Small Things', I couldn't get past the first two pages. The writing was a drag and this made reading it very tedious. I don't know where Indian authors go wrong. Most of them have a minuscule plot and drag it to form a book. The language used is below par and the book is more often than not peppered with too much sex. Ravi Subramanian was a decent author I thought, until he wrote 'The Bestseller She Wrote'. That book made me want to kill myself for the amount of time I voluntarily wasted. I haven't read a lot of other famous Indian authors like Amish Tripathi, Durjoy Datta, Devdutt Pattanaik etc. I have read the blurb of their books, but nothing felt interesting enough. I do have a couple of women writers on my Facebook list who churn out books like every alternate month. I tried reading one of their books once and I lost my mind after a couple of pages. They apparently are best selling authors in the country. Well, good for them.

Of late every Indian author call themselves "best selling" and every person who thinks that they can write is writing a book. There are so many books out there that do not even qualify to be a high school read, let alone a best seller. But you cannot deny the fact that they are out there. While not all Indian authors are bad, the good ones are just a handful. It takes all the effort that I have to make myself read a book by an Indian author. While the worst books that I have read by Indian authors is a six page document, the best one will always remain 'Malgudi Days' by R. K. Narayan.

Which is your favorite book by an Indian author? What do you look for in a book written by an Indian author?

21 comments:

  1. I loved God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Other good authors I would recommend are Devdutt Pattnaik, Shashi Tharoor and Kanishk Tharoor, Amish Tripathi's Shiva Trilogy (book 3 is a drag), Tejaswini Apte Rahm, Adite Bannerjie's book No Safe Zone, Perumal Murugan's translated works, Tagore. There is better regional literature than Indian English authors.

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  2. Agree to a large extent. I honestly don't read many Indian authors unless recommended by others. And that includes the likes of Chetan et al. One author I felt was/is underrated is Shatrujeet Nath. His first book was a nice Indo-Pak spy thriller and after that he's been in the Vikramaditya series which is both well researched and well written, especially grammar wise.

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  3. I read two wonderful books some months back - The Kite Flyers and The Hope Factory. Very well-written. What about Satyajit Ray's Feluda series? And my all-time favorite Rohinton Mistry? :-) When I was younger, I read Mulk Raj Anand and Prem Chand. I've heard Anuja Chauhan's books are okay.

    Oh yes, everyone who writes a book is a bestseller these days.

    Hottie! High five on the pukey authors!

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  4. I think I picked up Devdutt Patnaik first. Though Chetan Bhagat quite dropped the standard, there are plenty of good Indian writers around.

    Shubhangi @ The Little Princess

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  5. I think I will check out Jane Desuza's Happily Never After once. I have read her blog, and she has that conversational way of writing. Ditto on God of Small Things, at that time I thought it was me.

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  6. I so agree with all that you have said! You had the misfortune of reading Sita's Curse too? The way it was hyped up I thought it would be brilliant - it was the first (and last) book trailer I watched. Anyway - I have a few suggestions for you:
    Indu Suderasan's Taj Trilogy - loved it!
    The Wildings and 100 Names of Darkness by Nilanaja Roy - absolutely awesome, especially if you love or even like cats. Even if you don't.
    Dark Things by Sukanya Venkatraghavan - finally a brilliant voice in Indian fantasy fiction (non-YA).
    Seahorse by Janice Pariat - luminous writing.

    Happy reading!

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  7. I agree with you! Even I stopped signing up for reviews after looking at the books I got.
    My first book by an Indian author was Upamanyu Chatterjee's English August. It was a pretty good book. And yes, then I read Chetan Bhagat - liked only Two States. I somehow made the mistake of reading One Indian Girl and I still regret it.
    I love reading Ruskin Bond. And I also liked Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan.

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  8. There are good as well and poor writing by Indian authors. Anuja Chauhan, Ravi Subramanian (minus the The Bestseller She Wrote), Ashwin Sanghi (Minus The Sialkot Saga), Yashodhara Lal, Chitra (I have just started reading Mistress of Spices), Preeti Shenoy are some good authors. I have read Happily Murdered and quite liked it. Rakshas by Piyush Jha, The Jeera Packer by Prashant Yadav are wonderful thrillers. Recently I read Jerry Pinto and loved his style of writing. Then Ruskin Bond is my all time fav.

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  9. irrespective of having Arjun Kapoor in it. (LOLOLOL) :D :D

    I loved two states! :) The book and the movie as well. It was the last movie I saw with my special one.

    "who churn out books like every alternate month" (LOLOLOL) :D

    They do it to make money out of it, I guess. I always wonder WHY?

    Read Amish when you get the chance. Loved his Shiva Trilogy. So much to learn and being an atheist, I loved it much more! I don't think you will like Durjoy Datta, but you can pick either 'If it's not forever, it's not love' (it's slightly your genre with of course a lot of sex as you already know) or Till the Last Breath (Loved it because it did not have sex and it was a beautiful story). Please don't pick the likes of Sudeep Nagarkar ever and you can thank me later :p

    PS, I'm happy I did not read Sita's Curse. Supposedly for authors, female protagonists can have sex with everyone and call it fair :p

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  10. Wait till you read Durjoy Dutta, you might actually jump from the top floor 😆 I too actually like 5 point something and that was it. I prefer reading anthology Now, which has beautiful stories from various authors/bloggers. Will check out Palace of Illusions. Have heard a lot about it.

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  11. Rohinton Mistry, Vikram Seth, Jhumpa Lahiri would be my favourites. Nice post!
    I is for If #AtoZChallenge  - http://wp.me/p11TpU-ML

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  12. Hey I like Arjun Kapoor, in spite of his questionable acting choices. He's goofily cute. Ok not the point of the post, moving on.

    I don't expect anything from these masala authors. But then there are a few Indian authors I do like. I've read God of Small Things thrice, and each time I've discovered something I hadn't the previous time. I finished it the first time too, but at that time it went for me the way it went for you. Then you obviously know about my undying loyalty to Anita Nair. Another author whom I quite liked is Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi - very underrated I feel. Hardly anyone's even heard of the guy, but he writes so lyrically!

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  13. Oh I so agree with you. My latest find, which tops the list of worst books I've read belongs to 'Finding Juliet'. I am sure it will be worse than Sita's Curse! Phew! There are few brilliant Indian authors, including Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I was so impressed by Palace of Illusions. I had read Shantala's review and knew I had to pick it up. I also have 'Mistress of Spices' with me. Haven't read it though.
    Thailand Travel Stories at Kohl Eyed Me
    26 Indian Dishes at Something's Cooking

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  14. My favourite book by an Indian author is Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi. Brilliant writing, superb execution. I haven't read his other books, all because people see that they aren't as good as Chanakya's Chant!

    I would also recommend 'More than Just Biryani' by Andaleeb Wajid. Beautifully written, and the plot has food as its major element, weaving in and out of the lives of the three female protagonists!

    I plan to read Palace of Illusions next month! And I agree with Rajlakshmi, don't ever try Durjoy Datta. That is assuming that you want to stay sane for the rest of your life :P

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  15. You do realise that if you ever write a book you will be an Indian Author too:))))

    Rohinton Mistry, Sudha Murthy, Anita Nair, Ashwin Sanghi, Amitav Ghosh, Amish Tripathi, Gurcharan Das, Khushwant Singh, Ah the list of good Indian Authors is endless!
    I have a special place in my heart for Chetan Bhagat's 2 States as it is my story, with the states reversed :)

    Mayuri

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  16. Can I say I love you for this post? Everything else over WhatsApp :)

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  17. Rohinton Mistry is my favourite Indian author. I loved A Fine Balance and have read it twice even though it's a sad book. I'm with you on 'The God of small things' --- did not like it at all! I read Vikram Seth and am ambivalent about his books but I do like some of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Shilpi Somaya Gowda's books.

    Inverted Refrain - Numb

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  18. Oh yessss Indian authors n their lack of imagination n unskilled grammar- I agree on the bad ones you reviewed as had the same misfortune to read them n swear off them
    Palace of Illusion was ok - left me craving for sophistication in writing
    Amish Tripathy - brilliant concept, poor execution n language command
    Arundhati Roy- puke rating
    Sitaa curse - couldn't go beyond 2 pages.....

    I am a fan on Satyajit Ray, Premchand, RK narayanan and ofcourse some regional ones.
    Loved reading Ghachar Gochar recently which is translated from Kannada - excellent premise n superlative narrative

    Leather that weathers in Pushkar

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  19. Ha ha! I couldn't agree more. Premchand, Sharath Chandra, Ruskin Bond(I'd call him Indian), R K Narayan, Chitra Divakurani, Anand Neelakanthan are those few I have read. I also could not progress beyond 2 pages of The God Of Small Things.
    Grammar, concept, story - it feels they write for the sake of it.

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  20. If you read sci-fi...may I suggest Once Upon a Blue Moon and Worlds Apart; both published by the National Book Trust.Beyond the Blue by Rupa and Other Skies by Vigyan Prasar. I wrote 'em. I am an Indian and a woman...I would love to know how you liked the short (and not so short stories).

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