Writing That Moved the Writers

Ahead of Bangalore Literature Festival 2014, City Express gets authors to list the books that have stayed with them over the years

Published: 15th September 2014 06:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th September 2014 06:03 AM   |  A+A-

Jahnavi Barua

  Hateship,


Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Quintessential Munro, the stories in this collection are richly layered and luminous with her particular ability to bring forth all that lies deeply buried in the human heart. This is true of all her writing, but in this book – as the name suggests – she leads the reader on a journey that traverses the entire range of human emotion and stirs a corresponding tumult in the reader, one that is difficult to shake off easily.

  The Sound of the Mountain

by Yasunari Kawabata

A delicate, effortlessly subtle account of human frailties told only as Kawabata can. A story that lingers on long after the reading is over and one that has stayed with me through the years.

  Disgrace by J M Coetzee

A book I have reread over the years – something I don’t usually do – marvelling every time at the immense power the book wields, both in its theme and the flawless rendering of the story.

  A Multitude of Sins by Richard Ford

An obvious weakness for

 short fiction leads me to this fourth title. Written in his inimitable muscular, vigorous, yet dispassionate prose, Ford illuminates the human condition in this set of stories with a curious mixture of tenderness and distance. The vividness of his writing always startles and makes a deep impression on me.

  Cranford by

Elizabeth Gaskell

An unusual choice perhaps, a book not very well known, but one that has stayed with me for years, exploring as it does with great elegance and sympathy the challenges of small town life, especially those faced by women.

Anjum Hasan

  The Shadow Lines by

Amitav Ghosh

For its evocation of impersonal historical fact as personal experience.

  Swami and Friends by R K Narayan

For Narayan’s entirely natural sounding and yet completely invented Indian English idiom.

  Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

For its magnificent descriptions of the Himalayan landscape

  No God In Sight by Altaf Tyrewalla

For its dark humour and inimitable turn of phrase

   God of Small Things by

Arundhati Roy

For searing humour and seeing the world through the eyes of children

  Mr Majestic: The Tout of Bengaluru by Zac O’ Yeah

For its love of the small-time and the down at heel.

  First Light by Sunil Gangopadhyay

For his feeling for modern Bengal

  House for Mr Biswas by V S Naipaul

For making the mundane into a source of literary joy

  Clearing a Space by Amit Chaudhuri

For helping me imagine new ways of approaching Indian literature

  Capital by Rana Dasgupta

For his ability to look beyond the clichés about urban India

Preeti Shenoy

  Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

A brilliant, dark, haunting tale, written in the trademark, inimitable Gaiman style, this book had me lost in the world of Lettie Hempstock and the narrator’s childhood.

  Every Seventh Wave By Daniel Glattauer

An endearing love story told through e-mail exchanges between Emmi and Leo, makes this book a must read for anyone in love with words, romance and most importantly romance through words.

  The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Powerful, poignant and deeply moving–it stirred so many emotions in me and brought a lump to my throat.

  Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger

Exemplary writing coupled with exploration of issues between siblings , set against a back-drop of London’s High-Gate symmetry with a touch of para-normal added to it, made this book a great read, for me. I also love Time Traveller’s Wife by the same author.

  Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Life lessons, philosophy, practical reality and an acceptance of things you cannot change. This book left a deep impact and I had read it many years ago.

  The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl

The Roald Dahl collection for adults is complex, seductive, dark and bewitching. The running themes of vice, eroticism that run through his work are definitely not for the prudes.

  Ravan and Eddie by Kiran Nagarkar

I discovered this book many years back and the prose was sheer delight. Nagarkar deftly sketches the world of the protagonists with brilliant detailing and transports you to the chawls of Mumbai, taking you on a spin with the characters. I was so lost in the pages of this book that I felt bad when it ended!

  Planet Polygamous by Shinie Antony

Thirty-six tales of infidelity is how the title describes the book, but these tales are definitely a lot more than that.

Sharath Komarraju

  The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov A time travel story like none other.

  Carrie by Stephen King For making me tremble with fear on a bright afternoon.

  A Damsel in Distress by P G Wodehouse For making me giggle and coo like a child.

  And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie I kept guessing until the end.

  Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand For saying selfishness is okay.

  The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur  Conan Doyle First murder mystery I read.

  The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov I’ve not read a better depiction of aliens in any other science fiction story, before or hence.

  Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl For showing me the depth of human resilience.

  The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason For teaching me thrift and financial wisdom.

Madhavi S Mahadevan

  To Kill a Mocking

Bird by Harper Lee

I liked the book for its strong voice and warm, sensitive story telling that deals with serious issues like racial injustice and rape.

  Kanthapura by Raja Rao

Loved it for its language, lyrical and evocative style, as well as the story of how Gandhiji’s independence movement touched the lives of the people in a small village in south India.

  Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

Read it first at age 13, but the magic of this passionate tale lingers most in its powerful female voice, romance and suspense of a Gothic setting.

  Birdsong by

Sebastian Faulks

Love this book for its simplicity of style and its deeply moving story about love against the backdrop of World War.

 The Unbearable

Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

A ‘post modern’ novel lacking the conventional plot, about a rather painful love affair; baffling in some ways, but with an abundance of brilliant lines that keep pulling me back to it.

  The Outsider by Albert Camus

Starting with one of the best opening lines I have ever read, this novel written in a detached, laconic style examines among other things the hypocrisy of society and the absurd nature of human existence.

  Birds Without  Wings by Louis de Bernieres

A busy novel about a Turkish village in the last years of the Ottoman empire, full of colour, characters and nostalgia about how Muslims and Christians once lived in communal harmony.

  The Little

Stranger by Sarah Waters

A lingering love of ghost stories made this spooky novel set in post war rural England, a gripping read for me.

  Three Men in a Boat by Jerome

K Jerome

A story about the adventures and misadventures of three quirky young men sailing down the Thames with a dog, this is by far the funniest book I’ve read.

  The Secret of Santa Vittoria

by Robert

Crichton Set in World War II, this is the story of an Italian wine-making village and how it cunningly puts up a resistance against the occupying Nazi force.


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