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Our Staff’s Recommended India Reading List (Fiction)

Fantastical, lyrical and awesome in its nature, Indian fiction often derives much of its inspiration from real life events, lending credence to the old saying “the truth is stranger than fiction”. It can offer incredible insight into the country’s history, politics and culture in an incredibly engaging, entertaining and all too often, heart breaking manner.

A common and popular example of this is Shantaram (now almost as much of a pre-requisite to getting through customs as a visa is), so, without using the ‘s’ word, we asked our staff for their personal favourites.

White Tiger – Aravind Adiga

White TigerIn a quote: “The story of a poor man’s life is written on his body, in a sharp pen.”

In a nutshell: In Aravind Adiga’s Booker Prize winning debut novel, narrator, Balram Halwai reveals the dark, macabre tale of his acquisition of power through a series of letter. Beginning as a waiter in his village teashop and rising to a self-made entrepreneur in technological-hub, Bangalore, the novel explores the vast inequality between India’s poor and rich.

What our staff say: “A quick read that is as entertaining as it is educational which gives a vivid insight into India’s underclass and the struggles they face in a globalizing world. You will never look at your rickshaw wallah, or any Indian driver, the same way again.”

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

fine balanceIn a quote: “After all, our lives are but a sequence of accidents – a clanking chain of chance events. A string of choices, casual or deliberate, which add up to that one big calamity we call life.”

In a nutshell: Based in an unknown city (widely believed to be Mumbai) between 1975 and 1984, a time during which Prime Minister Indhira Gandhi declared a state of Emergency across the country for 22 months, Mistry charts the terrible history of this period which included slum demolition and mass sterilisation through the lives of four characters from of different caste, class and religion.

What our staff say: “No holds barred, this utterly compelling story tells it how it is. A mixture of positivity and despair, hope and corruption, and unapologetic realism, it had me t