Tales from India
In keeping with this
week’s Indian literature event, here are five scintillating books set in India,
both fiction and non-fiction.
1. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
This novel describes the lives of Rahela and Esta fraternal twins from the Kerala province of India.
It interweaves the past and present and in doing so, questions the depth of family loyalties and the meaning of love. The book won the 1997 Man Booker Prize and is essential to anyone seeking to explore Indian literature.
2. The Magic Bus: following the Hippy trail by Rory MacLean.
Rory MacLean followed the hippy trail east from Istanbul, travelling overland across Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Tracing the footsteps of free spirits, he wrote about the remnants of both the hippy trail and its ancestor, the Silk Road. Published in 2008, this non-fiction journey through the haunts of the through the Beatnik generation is profoundly affecting.
3. On A Shoestring to Coorg: An Experience of Southern India by Dervla Murphy.
Having cycled from Ireland to India in her youth, in 1975 Dervla Murphy returned to the country with her five year old daughter, Rachel. With little money and no solid plan, the Murphys meandered over one thousand five hundred kilometres south from Mumbai to the Laccadive Sea. Along the way, they contracted dysentery, explored the hippy beaches of Goa and discovered the divine mountains of Kodagu (Coorg).
This non-fiction book is pieced together from Murphy’s travel diaries and letters.
4. The Midnight Palace
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves.
The second novel in the Niebla series, the Midnight Palace is set in 1930s Kolkata. It’s tale of intrigue, murder and magic. The reader is introduced to Sheere and Ben, twins who were separated at birth following the murder of their parents. As teenagers they unknowingly met again, spending their nights among a band of orphans gathering surreptitiously in an abandoned manor house… Though it does present a romanticized version of India, the book is enchantingly written and leaves the reader longing for a world that never could have existed.
5. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.
This is a childhood favourite which was made famous by the Disney film. The Jungle book charts the adventures and mishaps of Mowgli’s unorthodox upbringing. The book is set in Seoni, central India.