a good reading list for India

Old Jun 13th, 2006, 02:01 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,072
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
a good reading list for India

Hi all

What books would you recommend I read in preparation for my first trip to India? Historical or fiction, or good guidebooks too. Anything at all.

Growing up with a European background I had so much already instilled in me as far as history and culture (before my trips to Europe), but, I have so little knowledge of India apart from what you just pick up along the way.

My first visit will be the Golden Triangle area, most likely.
flygirl is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 02:25 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 95
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am sure this issue has been debated before in this forum, but here is my hapennyworth:
1. Midnight's children [Salman Rushdie- fiction]
2. Freedom at Midnight [Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins- history]
3. The Great Indian Novel [Shashi Tharoor- fiction]
4. Love in a dead language [Lee Siegel- fiction]
5. The God of Small Things [Arundhathi Roy- fiction]

ayakkadan is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 02:46 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,790
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Personally, I LOVE Forster's The Passage to India. Written 80 years ago, much has changed and much stays the same. I think it captures the essence of why we foreigners are drawn to cultures like India, sometimes mystified, sometimes repelled, sometimes enchanted but always fascinated.
marmot is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 05:24 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 510
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Concerning the list adduced by ayakkadan, I would like to sound a word of caution - all these writers are urbanised, English-speaking elites, their writing often pandering to Western audiences. Not a single one in the list has the qualifications or the ability to dicuss Indian languages, Art, Philosophy, History or Music with any degree of authority (but that won't prevent them from masquerading as authorities, mind you) . Read them by all means, but don't forget this.
agtoau is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 05:44 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 96
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In light of your post, who would you recommend?
linhelen is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 05:45 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,834
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bombay Ice- for murder mystery/thriller

Holy Cow!- funny book about an Australian woman living in India and the country's many relgions

A Fine Balance- by Rohinton Mistry

Interpreter of Maladies: short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri

Here is a link to a past post with suggestions for movies about/flimed/taking place in India:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34748908
cruisinred is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 05:49 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,072
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
many thanks for the replies!

I should mention I read A Suitable Boy a few years ago. (I know there are fans and detractors of the book/author).

thank you for the list, I have my work cut out for me! (and not even started).
flygirl is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 06:20 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 510
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You could start with any book of R.K. Narayanan. (type in the name in Google and several entries will pop up.)
agtoau is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 08:35 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,448
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION COMING...

You could also start with

The Hazle Journal 2002 - The Crucible: 12 Days in India

It is at: http://www.waynehazle.com/india/
waynehazle is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 01:36 PM
  #10  
ccc
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 315
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with many of the books put forth here. And to those I would add Shantaram, which I recently read. It's a fascinating, semi-autobiographical novel set (primarily) in Bombay.
ccc is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 10:49 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 269
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Also Bhowani Junction by John Masters.
TexasSlim is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 02:14 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 95
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The India that flygirl is going to encounter will have little similarity to R.K.Narayan's books. I am a big fan of his writing by the way.....but maybe more indicative of rural life than what will be encountered while visiting the golden triangle.
ayakkadan is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 04:30 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 510
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ayakkadan,

By the same token, not much of what Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Tharoor writes is relevant to the Golden Triangle insofar as the lives of the vast number of people who live in the villages and small towns there are concerned. I would argue that R.K.'s books will, in fact, provide a hint of the ways of the rural Indian that could be more useful than what is written by the cityslickers like Tharoor & Roy.


agtoau is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 02:14 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I like a number of the suggestions above I also liked another of Rohinton Mistry's books Family Matter which really gives you a sense of post-colonial Parsi life in Mumbai.

I also found the Raj Quarter by Paul Scott was a fascinating picture of the British in India.

The fact is that literature is often a reflection of the urban middle class and this is true no just in India.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 03:42 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 510
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
welltraveledbrit,

At least in the case of India your remark is not true. There is a large body of Indian literature in the local languages that is a reflection of the simple or the rural life. That the typical urban English-educated Indians (and hence the foreigners who largely get their information from them) are not fully conversant with this corpus of homegrown literature is another topic for another day (and another forum).

agtoau is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 04:40 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Interesting,it's always nice to learn something new.
I'll look up the author you recommended above next time I'm at the library.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 06:46 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 510
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
welltraveledbrit,

See -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.K._Narayan

agtoau is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2006, 01:47 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 965
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Iam currently reading "The God of the Samll Things" and I am enjoying it. The action is in the Kerala region, south India.
Tere is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2006, 01:49 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 965
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I meant " The God of Small Things", lol, the small went wrong!
Tere is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2006, 08:17 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When I was in Delhi, I visited a wonderful bookstore called "The Book Shop". It is located at 13/7 Jor Bagh Market, New Delhi.

They made some wonderful suggestions, but I particularly enjoyed two books by a Delhi writer, Manju Kapur. They are "Difficult Daughters" and "Home". These books provide indepth insight into the dynamics and everyday experiences of Indian "joint" family life. I believe you can get these books through Amazon.

Vanny


vanny is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -