Although strings of literature have been the ball game of the Europeans majorly (specifically the English and the French), but Indians haven’t been too far. Since Indians began learning the language, English literary scenario has seen some brilliant Indian writers—some residing in India while the others of diasporic identity. Let’s have a look at some of the Indian fiction writers who made it big in the international scenario. I mentioned fiction, because if we sit to count the non fiction writers as well, there would be no ending to it.
Although essentially a Bengali writer and philosopher, his fame was spread across the world with Gitanjali winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore’s poems are an amalgam of simplicity and high philosophy which even W.B. Yeats craved to write. In fact, it was Yeats who was responsible for Tagore’s world-wide fame. If you still have not read any novel or poem by him, we suggest you to read “Ghare Baire” and “Nashtanir”.
A personal favorite, Amitava Ghosh is a Bengali, living in the US, who has yet not been able to rip off his Bengali roots and memories. Almost all his novels are based in and around Calcutta (definitely not all) with traditional Bengali characters with whom he could identify. Ghosh is a wordsmith whose Hungry Tide, Sea of Poppies, The Calcutta Chromosome and River of Smoke are must read! From the prestigious “Prix Médicis étranger” and Sahitya Akademi Award to the David Dan Prize, he’s numerous prestigious awards in his bag!
Vikram Seth can well be referred to as a living icon with his novel, A Suitable Boy being one of the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the history of English literature, and had around 591,552 words! Apart from this, he has written innumerable poems and quite a few novels which fetched him distinguishable awards. Among other awards, our favorite is his featuring in the list of The 25 Greatest Global Living Legends in the World. Amazing, isn’t it?
Born and brought up in India and residing in the USA, one cannot distinguish the Indianness from her novels. Although her first novel brought accolades from notable writers like Salman Rushdie, it was her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss, which won her international fame and recognition. In fact, it is for this novel that Desai had won the Man Booker Prize in 2006 and the National Books Critics Circle prize. She’s also the Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk’s beau.
Think diasporic literature; think Jhumpa Lahiri whose forte is Bengalis and other Indians living lives of strangers (figuratively) in an alien land. Although within a few years she has more than 4 books (novels and short stories) under her belt—a single trope of identity and existential crisis tying them in one thread. The debut short story collection of this American writer of Indian origin, “The Interpreter of Maladies”, won her the Pulitzer Prize in 2000.
One of the best known and foremost writers in the history of English literature, Salman Rushdie has made his mark as a British-Indian novelist and essayist. Although his first novel was applauded, it was his second novel that drove laurels home with the Booker Prize in 1981. He fame also, to some extent, resides in his fourth novel being banned because of blasphemy (The Satanic Verses). We recommend his “Joseph Anton: a Memoir”, his autobiography surrounding the controversy of The Satanic Verses.
There’s perhaps no Indian who haven’t watched or read the marvelous accounts of Swami and his Friends, or that of the Malgudi Days. Reading these books transport us into a world of guileless innocence and child-like wonder. Narayan was a humanist (in the style of Guy de Maupassant) who liked to focus on the earthy Indianness of the country and its people. He was far from showcasing the materialistic aspects that the country was gradually stooping into. Among all his works, we recommend you Swami and Friends, which will surely transform you into an innocent child up for pranks!