Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Best Indian Books I've Read So Far in 2019.

Happy Independence Day, fellow Indians! 
In honour of our Independence Day I've decided to comb through everything I've read this year and choose the best Indian books I've read so far in the year and I've read 142 books so far and a fair amount of them have been written by Indian authors, so I had a lot to choose from. 

But I have picked out the ones I've loved best. 
In no particular order, here we go! 

1. THE INHERITORS BY ARUNA CHAKRAVARTI:  A multi-generations family saga, told via different members of the same family over a period of a 100 years. From rural Bengal, to Delhi to Berlin, we see the same family go through the usual ups and downs in life and while navigating family and social changes. Everything from the freedom struggle and to widowhood and the ill-treatment of women, marriage and relationships. Sweeping in its scope and beautiful and sensitively written. I loved this book so much. I wished there was more of it. So good! 

2. DARK CIRCLES BY UDAYAN MUKHERJEE: This book book my heart but in the best way possible. A story of two brothers dealing with the death of their estranged mother and a startling revelations in her last letter to them. 
A story of mistakes. Family. Marriage. 
It's just brilliant. 
One of the best things I've read in a long, long time. 

3. THE SECRETS BETWEEN US BY THRITY UMRIGAR: I read the prequel to this book over 5 years ago- The Space Between Us and fell in love with the story and the people. So I went into this book glad to re-visit some familiar characters. This book gave me that and then some. A story of two women living in poverty but hoping for and working hard for a better life. Heart warming and breaking and moving, this book was a story of women helping women and supporting each other. 
It's so good. I cannot recommend it enough. 

4. AT HOME IN MUMBAI BY CHANDRIMA PAL: A non-fiction one for the list. Like the title suggests this one is about ordinary and not-so-ordinary people and their Mumbai living spaces and stories. A perfect read for someone from this great Metropolis or one moving here. I loved these vignettes into people's life and their Mumbai stories. 

5. STORIES FROM SARATCHANDRA: My first read of the year and it was off to a sparkling start. One of my favourite writers, who wrote so sensitively and wrote such deeply moving stories, slightly sentimental but startlingly ahead of their time. 

6. THE WRECK BY RABINDRANATH TAGORE: Another Bengali stalwart and a story I love so much and knew already but reading it was still lovely. A love story at heart but so much more. A story about choices and doing the right thing and falling in love. I also recommend the film adaptation directed by Rituporno Ghosh called Naukadubi. 

7. BOMBAY BRIDES BY ESTHER DAVID: A collection of inter-connected short stories set in a housing society in Ahmedabad with all Jewish residents. Their lives and loves and marriages and relationships with each other make up this book. A look into a new culture and their lives and traditions. While the writing wasn't my absolute favourite, I enjoyed the stories and the people. 

8. NIGHT OF HAPPINESS BY TABISH KHAIR: This book broke my heart and I didn't see it coming. A story of a man who lives a quiet life, works hard and doesn't complain. Till one evening he does something that completely unsettles his employer, so he decides to look into his past and then we, the reader, get to dive into this life story. 
I remember reading it one sitting, completely and utterly riveted. A relevant story for our times. About tolerance and loss and grief. 

9. LEILA BY PRAYAAG AKBAR: A dystopian that felt quite pretty concurrent. It was unsettling and scary and I hope to God the future is nothing like how this novel predicts. I saw the Netflix adaptation which I have some thoughts about, which I'll get into in a separate post. I did like it but it's so much different than the book but they did capture the bleakness of the book very well. 

10. BHAUNRI BY ANUKRTI UPADHYAY: A recent-ish read for me, Bhaunri is beautiful and haunting and odd. Set within the tribal nomadic community of blacksmiths in Rajasthan this is a story of love but obsessive love. Of going too far. Of pining for attention. It's domestic drama at its finest. 

11. THE FAR FIELD BY MADHURI VIJAY: I read this last week and did a review. Another timely read this one, Kashmir and a young woman in search of closure and a figure from her childhood. 

12. UNUSUAL TALES ABOUT THE TRINITY BY SUDHA MURTY: This book just felt like spending time with my grandmother and hearing her tell me fantastic tales from Hindu mythology. I really enjoyed these stories and learnt quite a few new things. Always fun. 

13. BELONGING BY UMI SINHA: Another multi-generational story. This one set during the British Raj in an Anglo-Indian family. We see the three characters up close and personal and see their lives play out against all kinds of upheavals. The 1857 Mutiny, the first World War and it's aftermath. I loved this book and each of these characters we get to know, through letters and journal entries. It was heartbreaking parts, to see lives torn apart by poor choices (in some cases). It also dealt with issues of prejudice, racism and the sense of what home means. 
So good. 

No comments: