Indian literature: Page turners 2022

With the worst of the pandemic hopefully behind us, 2022 was the year Indian literature bounced back.
Representational Image. (Express Illustration)
Representational Image. (Express Illustration)

With the worst of the pandemic hopefully behind us, 2022 was the year Indian literature bounced back. Daisy Rockwell’s translation of Geetanjali Shree’s Ret Samadhi, published as Tomb of Sand, bagged the International Booker Prize 2022 and was a big success. However, there were other books, too, that enthralled and moved, informed, and provoked. Here are ten of my favourite books published in India through 2022.

1. ‘The Mendicant Prince’ by Aruna Chakravarti
Publisher: Picador

A fictionalised retelling of the Bhawal Sanyasi case, which examines the veracity of a mendicant’s claim that he was the long-presumed-dead heir of a
Bengal principality.

2. ‘Tears of the Begums’ by Khwaja Hasan Nizami, translated from Urdu by Rana Safvi
Publisher: Hachette India

‘Stories of Survivors of the Uprising of 1857’ reads the subtitle, and it is a heartbreaking glimpse of the Mughal royal family after 1857.

3. ‘An American Girl in India’ by Wendy Doniger
Publisher: Speaking Tiger

A memoir that offers an insight into India in the early 1960s, and also the mind and heart of one of the world’s best-known Indologists.

4. ‘Taranath Tantric and Other Tales from the Supernatural’ by Bibhutibhushan, translated from Bengali by Devalina Mookerjee
Publisher: Speaking Tiger

Spooky, chilling, and oh so Bengali. Highly recommended for any lover of old-fashioned horror stories.

5. ‘Speaking in Tongues: Poems in Spanish, Mandarin and Turkish’ by Kiran Bhat
Publisher: Red River

Poems of discovery, travelling, philosophy. Of coming out and growing up, of seeking oneself and finding the other.

6. The Dreams of ‘a Mappila Girl’ by BM Zuhara, translated from Malayalam by Fehmida Zakeer
Publisher: Sage Yoda

An evocative, very interesting memoir about growing up in a Mappila family in 1950s Kerala.

7. ‘Birdwatching’ by Stephen Alter
Publisher: Aleph

Ornithology meets spy games in the wilds of Sikkim and around, in 1962. High adventure, a glimpse of modern Indian history, and birds: engrossing.

8. ‘Black River’ by Nilanjana Roy
Publisher: Westland

The river is the Yamuna, and its banks harbour crime: in Delhi, and beyond. A murder mystery woven into poignant, thought-provoking insights into grime of different kinds.

9. ‘The First World War Adventures of Nariman Karkaria’ by Nariman Karkaria, translated from Gujarati by Murali Ranganathan
Publisher: HarperCollins

The witty and incredible adventures of a young Parsi who ran away to China, travelled in Europe, and fought through the Great War.

10. ‘Hyderabad’ by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book 2 of Sodhi Someshwar’s The Partition Trilogy is about Hyderabad in 1947: the schisms, the conspiracies, the tensions. An interesting blend of real-life personalities and fictitious, all caught in turmoil.

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