India is truly a land of artists, multiple cultures and heritage. The great and profoundly insightful Indian literature, with its illustrious authors, has inspired generations with its expansive body of work. These authors have intensely depicted the progressive picture of our Indian society. These writers adapted themes from mythology, fables and history, and used them as a vehicle for conveying political, social, psychological and personal ideas. The purpose was not just to portray these plays but to make a remarkable change by highlighting the street theatre, too, and the trend continues till date. Here are the top 10 best Hindi novelists whose work is still remembered making them all time favourites.
10. Amrita Pritam:
She was born Amrita Kaur and was an acclaimed Punjabi writer and poet. Amrita Pritam has the unique distinction of being the first Punjabi woman novelist and poet of the 20th century. Her most notable work was Pinjar in 1950. It was based on the violence against women and sufferings of the protagonist. The book was later made into an award winning movie of the same name in 2003. Not only was Amrita Pritam an ardent writer but she was an active participant in social works. She was the first women to receive Sahitya Akademi award followed by Padma Sri in 1969 and Padma Vibhushan in 2004.
9. Sachchidananda Vatsyayan:
Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan is popularly known by his nickname Agyeya. He was not only successful in Hindi poetry but also in Hindi journalism. He has translated some of world famous classics in Hindi. Ajneya participated in the Independence movement along with Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sukhdev and Yashpal. His writing mostly dealt with the contemporary trends and revolution during the period of Independence. During his frequent visits abroad, Ajneya acted as a visiting faculty in the University of California, Berkely. He was also the founder editor of the newsweekly Dinaman of The Times of India group which supported young literary groups of Calcutta.
8. Sri Lal Shukla:
Sri Lal Shukla is one of the most renowned Hindi novelists and an illustrious name in the world of Hindi literature. He worked as a Provincial Civil Services (PCS) officer for the state government of Uttar Pradesh and later became an IAS officer. Through his novels Sri Lal Shukla portrayed the degrading moral values in the Indian society during the post Independence period. His work revealed the negative aspects of life in rural and urban India in a sardonic manner. One of his best works, ‘Raag Darbari’, has been translated into 15 Indian languages besides English. He also wrote a detective novel titled ‘Aadmi Ka Zahar’ which was serialised in the weekly magazine Hindustan. He has received many prestigious awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award and the 2008 Padma Bhushan.
7. Surendra Verma:
A leading playwright of the country, Surendra Verma’s play ‘Surya Ki Antim Kiran Se Surya Ki Pahli Kiran Tak’ has been translated into six Indian languages. The play was historical and was about male-female relationships, gender equality and female sexuality. He had a long association with the National School of Drama. Verma started his career as a teacher and soon began writing stories, novels and plays. ‘Surya Ki Antim Kiran…’ was his first play. His accolades include Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1993 and Sahitya Akademi Award in 1996.
Yashpal was a renowned Hindi author and a revolutionary who fought for India’s freedom during the British rule. Because of his subversive act, Yashpal was arrested when he was only 28 years and sentenced for 14 years in prison. He won the Sahitya Akademi Award for ‘Meri Teri Uski Baat’ in 1976. His novel ‘Jhutha Sach’ is one of the unparalleled Hindi novels ever written. He also served as an editor for Viplav for many years. His novels were a part of moral values and also description of his travel via Eastern Europe. He had a magnificent acknowledgement and impact on young writers. The Government of India issued a Yashpal Centenary postage stamp in his honour.
5. Phanishwar Nath ‘RENU’:
He was one the most efficacious and flourishing Indian novelists of all time. His first novel, ‘Maila Anchal’ is regarded as one of the most substantial Hindi novels after Premchand’s ‘Godaan’. Renu familiarized local Hindi with Khari Boli which was an all together new experiment in Hindi literature. He aggrandized the expression of contemporary rural India through the classification of Aanchalik Upanyas and also for bringing out the regional voices into Hindi literature. He wrote a short story which was adapted as the blockbuster film ‘Teesri Manzil’ in 1966. Renu was awarded Padam Sri in 1970 which he gave up in teamwork.
Kamleshwar Prasad Saxena started his literary career in Allahabad. He was a very preeminent face of not only in Indian literature but also as a scriptwriter for Indian cinema and television. His famous works in films include ‘Aandhi’, ‘Mausam’, ‘Chhoti Si Baat’ and ‘Rang Birangi’. A Sahitya Akademi Award in 2003 and Padma Bhushan in 2005 are the awards in his basket. Sometime in the 1950s Kamleshwar became an editor of Vihan. He encouraged Marathi Dalits and Bohra Muslim litterateurs and opened new perspective for the readers.
3. Bhisham Sahni:
He was a Hindi writer, actor and most famous for his novel ‘Tamas’ which was a powerful account for the Partition of India. His accolades include Padma Bhushan in 1998 and Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 2002. He maintained a great combination between local language Urdu and Punjabi which helped him to make room in people’s hearts and minds. Also most of his novels were about the common man struggling between socio-political and economic hostility. His masterpieces based on partition were ‘Chief Ki Davat’ and ‘Amritsar Aa Gaye Hain’. A reader can feel the emotional bond with the characters depicted in his stories and that makes him easily understand the bitterness in the society.
2. Krishna Sobti:
Sobti is a fiction writer who was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1980 for her novel ‘Zindaginama’. She is considered as a grande dame of Hindi literature and most famous for her novel 1966 novel ‘Mitro Marajani’ which portrayed married woman in an unapologetic sexual manner. Sobti used ingenious language top present an exhilarating portrait of women which opened new gates in Indian literature. She experimented with new writing techniques and was successful in doing so. Her pieces of work included not only the turmoil in the society but the declining values affecting the man-woman relationship.
1. Munshi Premchand:
Premchand is the most influential of all Hindi novelists. He is most recognized for the simplicity with which he wrote and the way he discussed the problems of the provincial class. His notable work includes ‘Godaan’ and ‘Bazaar-e- Husn’. He is hailed as the upanyas samrat meaning ‘king of novels’. He believed that literature depicted the honest experiences of life and not the superficial lines of dreams. Premchand never fabricated the characters of his play and there was no Mr. Right in his stories. On the contrary he executed his artists as they could be in reality.