(Book list last updated July 23, 2013)
2 States the story of my marriage
by Chetan Bhagat
An easy read recommended by Indian friends because “it is so real.” It is a somewhat humorous tale of a north Indian boy and a south Indian girl who fall in love and then have to convince their families that they are a worthy match. An interesting and sometimes unbelievable look into the world of Indian marriages.
A Fine Balance
by Rohinton Mistry
One of the best books ever written: follows a group of Indians during the 1970’s political turmoil. We experience their dreams, hopes and realities through Mistry’s incredible gift of words.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
by Katherine Boo
This is one of those books that is so real it hurts. Into the slums we go, a true story of individuals fighting for their rights and dreaming big dreams. The people of Annawadi struggle with poverty and illness and lack of education, that much we expect. But the corruption from every corner of their world is truly eye-opening.
City of Joy
by Dominique Lapierre
I read this book the first time I was in India in 1990. The descriptions of street scenes, smells and sounds were so vivid and accurate. Tells the tale of life in a Calcutta slum; the people who live there and people who give tirelessly to help them. Uplifting.
Eat, Pray, Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert
A divorced woman travels for a year in Italy, India and Bali. Humorous, spiritual. Based on a true story.
The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy
4 1/2 Stars
This book is all about the writing style – the author has a unique style and has meticulously scrutinized every sentence…every word. One must take the time to truly read this book – skimming is not an option. A simple story written in a complicated way that revolves around three children: “two egg twins” and one who dies. Family dynamics, race and caste all play a part in this intriguing story that shifts back and forth in time – finally coming together in the end.
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure
by Sara Macdonald
Australian expat describes two years living in Delhi and her travels around India sampling the different religions. Easy read, humorous. Based on a true story.
Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found
by Suketu Mehta
I found this book difficult to get into but well worth the effort. Mehta moves back to Bombay after living in New York for many years. He interviews people from all walks of life: hitmen, policemen, politicians; Jains, Hindus, Bollywood stars and bar girls; people who will do anything to get rich, and those who give it all away. Real stories about real people: absolutely intriguing.
Secret Daughter: A Novel
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Two parallel stories are told. One starts off in a small Indian village, where a young woman gives birth to a baby girl. Her husband killed the last girl she gave birth to; they cannot afford to raise a girl. This time Kavita steals away and leaves the baby at an orphanage. The second part of the story tells of the American woman and her Indian husband who go to Mumbai and adopt the baby girl. Decisions and consequences. A simple read that leaves the reader with a lot to think about.
by Gregory David Roberts
3 1/2 Stars
An Australian prison escapee lands in Mumbai and shares an unbelievable set of experiences: living in the slums and setting up a free health clinic, ending up in jail, working for the mafia, and even fighting with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. Based on a true story.
Toss of a Lemon
by Padma Viswanathan
3 1/2 Stars
Insight into the life of a Brahmin widow and life within the family. Based on a true story.
The White Tiger
by Aravind Adiga
The story is told from the perspective of a driver of an expat couple living in India. Well written, humorous and insightful. Apt to cause expats to be a bit paranoid.
On My List to Read
A Suitable Boy
by Vikram Seth