What are some of the must-read Indian stories?
What is the first story you remember reading or listening to? Was it the Raja-Rani story, or was it the thirsty crow story? We all loved short moral stories in our childhood. As we grew up, these got changed into 300 paged novel, but the stories were still there.
The stories we read or listen to are much more than pure entertainment. These tales change our perspective towards life and towards other humans.
We are pretty sure you got your lesson of not being greedy from the story of the hunger dog who drops his flatbread onto the water stream. With time, the stories we read started conveying more mature lessons and fresh ways of looking towards everything.
It is the stories we read that help us develop the power of imagination. Well, it wouldn’t be fun if you didn’t have a mental image of how exactly the murder took place in a Sidney Sheldon novel or if you didn’t imagine a blue-necked man in the Shiva Trilogy.
Indian authors are often known to pen stories that capture the multicolored Indian heritage. The books written in the English language by Indian authors often have a touch of Indianness that makes it fun to read.
But wait a minute, there’s no rule that stories are meant for kids only. There are innumerous stories out there which a person must read that are sure to change his/her life for good. The Indian stories with the context of the current, past, and future of India are the best ones to start.
We have a list of 50 must-read Indian Stories.
1. Train To Pakistan – Khushwant Singh
As the name suggests, the book is based on the times of the partition. This book was able to capture the root essence of that horrific period. The change of behaviors and spawn of hatred is very well jotted down, and the reader is bound to go through heaps of emotions while reading this.
2. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
Seeing that the partition was one of the most impactful phases of Indian history, it is easy to make out that a lot of the stories would be based on these. Here’s another gem of an account from the genius and well renowned Vikram Seth.
Based on the partition period, this story deals with a family searching for a suitable boy to marry off their daughter. The mindset of people, the emotions, and the trouble the girl faces, and the societal pressure are some of the key points highlighted in this, one of the longest books of India. The sheer brilliant writing makes it a part of 50 must-read Indian stories.
3. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
One of the most famous novels of all time, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, has been the recipient of many prizes, including the prestigious Man Booker Prize. The story depicts a journey from the British Era to Independence and further to partition. This truly is a masterpiece of Indian Literature and is most definitely a must-read amongst the Indian Stories.
4. The Guide – R.K. Narayan
Remember Malgudi? The fictional village found in most stories of R.K. Narayan. The story of a tour guide who goes through various transformations and his journey to find peace is sure to move the soft parts of your soul. Beautifully written, this story is one you wouldn’t want to miss.
5. Maximum City – Suketu Mehta
The book is based on the city that never sleeps. The writer shares his experiences as he grows up in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. The story exposes the Indian mentality effortlessly and is an eye-opener of sorts.
6. Not Only the Things that Have Happened – Mridula Koshy
7. Pali – Bhisham Sahni
This story captures the communalism from a child’s perspective. The gripping tale narrates the trauma of a child during the partition.
8. The Glassblower’s Breath – Sunetra Gupta
This is the story of an Indian lady who has high ambitions, desires, and experiences of all sorts. This book records the trouble she faces for being a woman in India. Vividly written, the book captures all the emotions and phases in the life of a lady in India.
9. Rich Like Us – Nayantara Sehgal
The story revolves around two women and what they face during the Emergency Period of India. Brilliant writing and some high emotions can be found in this.
10. The Collector’s Wife – Mitra Phukan
As the name suggests, the book revolves around the wife of a collector in Assam and how the militants impact their lives. The story captures the emotions and problems of the North East and presents it in a way that makes the reader think and feel sympathetic for them.
11. The Blue Umbrella – Ruskin Bond
This is a story of Binya and her love for her blue umbrella. The shopkeeper Khatri’s obsession with the same umbrella.
12. English, August – Upmanyu Chatterjee
The Novel revolves around Indian Civil servant and his struggle when he is posted in a rural place. This Story was also adopted as a movie of the same name in 1994.
13. The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
The first novel of the well-known Kiran Desai captures the clashes of various groups in India and also India’s ambition to be like Britain. Honorary part of the 50 Must read Indian stories.
14. Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry
Family Matters is a Contemporary Novel that shows different attitudes of family members towards Nariman Vakeel, who is a retired English Professor.
15. Palace of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
This novel falls into the genre of mythological fiction. The author takes on the Indian Epic Mahabharata and draws a story based on that which makes it very interesting as our perspective changes.
16. The Private Life of an Indian Prince – Mulk Raj Anand
Based on real-life incidents, the story of a Prince and his mistresses during the time of merging of the Princely States into the country. One of the must-read Indian stories for history lovers.
17. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
A Kerala based story of twins who go through various stages of life and how small things impact significant decisions is depicted quite incredible. A must-read because this Indian story is sure to move you from within.
18. The Chronicles of a Corpse Bearer – Cyrus Mistry
The Novel is set in pre-Independent India. In the story, Phiroze Elchidana is a Parsi corpse bearer, and this is an extraordinary love story and has a melancholic ending. Cyrus Mistry won The Sahitya Academy award for the Novel.
19. Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri
This story by Lahiri explores the lives of an Indian family settled abroad. The Indian values and foreign values are in constant conflict as the tale progresses.
20. The Story of My Experiments with the Truth – M.K. Gandhi
There is much more to the story of the father of the nation than just battling the British. This autobiography of Gandhi Ji is the compilation of his weekly journals and captures the various ups and downs of his life. This one is sure to teach you a lot about human emotions and challenges
21. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
The story revolves around a wide array of characters during the government emergency and tough times faced by India. It will give invaluable lessons of love and friendships.
22. Shalimar the Clown – Salman Rushdie
Rushdie took four years to pen this masterpiece. It talks about Shalimar Gardens that is in Srinagar, and the character in the novel is of the same name. The story talks about the lost beauty of Shalimar because of the political agendas of the subcontinent and how a paradise turned into a battleground.
23. Gitanjali – Rabindranath Tagore
24. The Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
A collection of nine stories of Indians and American Indians and their journeys to find the meanings of their cultures.
25. The Glass Palace – Amitav Ghosh
The story is based on Burma’s fight to invasions and how India and Burma share various similarities. This story will certainly make the reader think. Obviously, this is one of 50 must-read Indian stories.
In fact, all of the Ghosh’s books are must-read Indian stories.
26. Red Earth and Pouring Rain – Vikram Chandra
The book brilliantly combines Indian Mythology and modern happenings of the character. A thrilling read for those who love mythology.
27. Pyjamas are Forgiving – Twinkle Khanna
This is the debut novel by Twinkle Khanna. The story is centered around a 40-something divorced, independent woman who suffers from a sleep disorder. The book is rife with humor and satire.
Definitely, one of the must-read Indian stories.
28. Polite Society – Mahesh Rao
The collection of spiritual poems which made the great Rabindranath Tagore the legend he is. The poems have been translated from Bengali and are a great way to look at spirituality.
29. In Custody – Anita Desai
The light-hearted and hilarious journey of a teacher who is bored from day to day life and is ambitious to become an Urdu poet. An honorary part of 50 must-read Indian stories.
30. The Other Side Of Silence – Urvashi Butalia
The stories in this book are based on real experiences. Butalia captures the horrible truths of the Partition through a feminine perspective.
31. The Story of my Assassins – Tarun Tejpal
32. The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian – Nirad C. Chaudhari
The life of the writer in Bangladesh and subsequently Kolkata is captured with great detail, and the writing is compelling, making it a must-read among the 50 stories.
33. The Stringer – Anjan Sundaram
34. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
The great and happening story of the writer who went from being a robber and prisoner in Australia to living in the slums of Mumbai and operating a free clinic. The story is very fast-paced and happening.
35. The White Tiger – Arvind Adiga
This book records the journey of a foolish villager who becomes a ruthless entrepreneur. The white tiger is an excellent read for everyone.
36. The Year of the Runaways – Sunjeev Sahota
The stories of Indian workers who flee to England from India and their journeys, including the various hardships they go through.
37. The Lives of Others – Neel Mukherjee
This book compares the lives of a poor family and a wealthy, politically powerful family. the similarities and surprising turn of events make this an exciting read.
38. The Great Indian Novel – Shashi Tharoor
The novel from the well-known Shashi Tharoor is a satire on the major political events of India. The comparison of these with the epic of Mahabharata is what makes this novel a great read.
39. Mrs. Funny Bones – Twinkle Khanna
This is a collection of satirical stories that the author has experienced in her daily life. The stories were first published in a column in various newspapers.
40. The Shadow Lines – Amitav Ghosh
41. 3 Mistakes of My Life – Chetan Bhagat
Bhagat is a famous author in India, and his books usually appeal to young readers. This book deals with friendship, love, and politics. The story will keep you flipping pages till the climax.
This is one of the must-read Indian stories.
42. Serious Men – Manu Joseph
The story portrays the struggle of Dalits as the character in the story, i.e., Aayan Mani, who is a Dalit, is assistant to Brahman astronomer, and still lives in a slum with his family.
43. The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay – Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
The Novel talks about the tragic event that happened in Bollywood, the murder of a star, and after that, the tragedy continues.
44. The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri
This is a story of the genre Diaspora where the main characters of the story move to New York from their native place in India. The story revolves around the dilemma they face because they want to preserve their own culture but also be part of New York. The balance they seek to attain is shown beautifully in the story.
Again, this is one of the best and must-read Indian stories.
45. East, West – Salman Rushdie
This Novel is an anthology and is divided into three parts; East, West & East, West. The story, like all the other stories written by Rushdie, is full of cultural references and is political.
46. The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad – Twinkle Khanna
Again, this book by Khanna has four fantastic stories about feminism.
47. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing – Mira Jacob
48. The remains of the feast – Githa Hariharan
This story is from the collection ‘The Art of Dying’ by Hariharan. The story revolves around an old lady and her great-granddaughter. The old lady on her death bed makes demands for junk food and other fast foods that she has never tasted in her life.
The great-granddaughter, Ratna, caters to every last wish of the old lady.
49. The Awakening – Shashi Deshpande
This short story revolves around a young girl living in chawl who aspires to pursue higher education. But she is unable to do so due to poverty. The story beautifully explores the father-daughter relationship.
50. Jasmine – Bharati Mukherjee
What you might have found that all the stories mentioned have conveyed a different story and a different perspective of India as a whole. The entirety of India was covered in these stories be it the stories North (Train to Pakistan), the West (Maximum City; Mumbai), The South (The God of Small Things; Kerela) and the East (The Collector’s wife; Assam)
All of the religions were covered. Many other countries like Burma, England, US were touched. The stories contained a wide array of sections of the society, from untouchability in Gandhi Ji’s Autobiography to the Prince in The Private Life of a Prince. From Brahmans to Low wage workers, from Teachers to Twins, every possible type of humans was seen in these 50 stories only.
It is safe to say that these 50 must-read Indian stories covered entire India. Just imagine the power and reach of these stories that they were to encapsulate almost every possible situation in a country like India. Reading these 50 stories will teach you a great deal about India as a whole, to the extent which no history books could ever possibly imagine to achieve.
You will realize the various perspectives of various people from different parts of the country, the only thing which joins or related this wide array of views is the fact that they are some way or the other based upon India.
The history of Indian English literature is very rich and diverse. The vivid culture and Hindu mythology give it a very tasteful essence. Indian authors are known to write books that are diverse and rich with happening stories.
Also, you will feel more towards people and understand them better; why they did what they did. Your emotional quotient is bound to reach its highest ever. Along with your EQ, your IQ will also skyrocket.
You’d be better versed with Indian History and significant events thoroughly along with the details of what harm or good it does because you’d have firsthand experience from the stories you just read.
In conclusion, these novels will teach you how to live. These books will teach you lessons which would broaden your thinking and make you a better person so that you can do good in life.