By: Konika Mukherjee
There are a lot of novels written in India every year in English. In some of them we can actually see a class of their own. However, a number of them deserve no more than a single read and sometimes, not even that. But this is how a country witnesses the evolution of a particular literary trend.
Though I have a long list of favourites, these are a few that I recommend for re-reads. This list is important, since I believe these novels have the potential to give you a sense of true Indian English Fiction and its fusion with India’s culture.
KANTHAPURA: Raja Rao
Set in the pre-Independence background, the novel portrays the effect of the Nationalist Movement on a small South-Indian village. Rao’s finesse as a story-teller is what binds the reader to this novel. Written simply without being authoritative or pedantic, Kanthapura depicts the consequences of the Freedom Movement and the participation of the common man in its achievement.
MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN: Salman Rushdie
Just as the fate of our country was entwined with its neighbour, the protagonist Salim’s fate was entwined with Shiva. A work of magical-realism, it is a work of art by Rushdie that won the Booker of Bookers in 1993. The novel has a beautifully imaginative story-line and is a must-read. For those who wish to get a sense of Post-Independence India, the novel has a number of interesting facts immersed in its story-line.
THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS: Arundhati Roy
Roy’s first novel and the recipient of the Man Booker Prize of 1997 tries to simplify the entwined relationship of a dizygotic twins. The novel is set in Kerela, amidst lush greenery and dense loneliness. Though the characters of this novel live together because of their blood relation but are decaying as the time passes by.
SUNLIGHT ON A BROKEN COLUMN: Attia Hosain
Attia Hosain’s first and only novel is set in the partition days. She has wittily shown the position of a fatherless girl in an orthodox Muslim family. The protagonist, Laila breaks the bounds of the cage and sets herself free.
THE GLASS PALACE: Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh’s ‘Shadow Lines’, the Sahitya Akademi Winner, casts a shadow on other works of repute. Set in Burma, the Glass Palace outlines the political upheaval which the country went through in the journey from monarchy to British invasion. An aesthetically pleasing novel which is a perfect book for curling up with a cup of coffee should not be missed.