India has the second largest English-speaking population in the world, after the United States. It’s no wonder that the country’s love for the language culminates, every now and then, with a major literature award. Indian authors of the English language are no strangers to the Man Booker Prize. In this article, we list four authors and books that have been awarded the coveted literary award. As the finest specimens of achievement in literature, these books should be on your reading list, particularly if you’re just starting to explore Indian literature in the English language.
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
The four time Booker prize nominated author needs no introduction. Midnight’s Children, for which he was awarded the prize, is written in Salman Rushdie’s revered magic realism style. It tells the story of a man born at the stroke of midnight when India won independence. With superhuman powers, he then sets about to solving the country’s problems. Although, this plot might seem like it could be in a high-morale children’s book. But this is where Rushdie’s genius lies. He interweaves the protagonist’s life with that of independent India’s, making the novel rich with allegorical references, which reveal more meaning on every reading.
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
There God of small things was Roy’s first of two novels she has written in twenty-odd years. The story moves around 7-year-old twins., and the plot themes are based on the idea of how small things define the lives of people. These small things come in the form of unnoticeable everyday decisions, questions of morality, strict caste rules, and how unpredictable life circles around these. Arundhati Roy beautifully captures, in words, the minute details that make lives worth, and with a suspenseful advance, weaves the story around political unrest and tensions arising from social structures.
Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
The Inheritance of Loss contrasts different lives, in different times, in different places across continents, seperated by values. The story pivots around inhabitants of an old house located in the foothills of the Himalayas, and the person, related to the cook of the house, struggling to make a living in New York as an illegal immigrant. The novel is remarkable for Desai’s unique prose and the book’s typographic layout. She masterfully, and harshly (purposefully, to give a aggravate the division) between different characters, different times, and between Kalimpong and New York.
Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
Adiga’s debut novel, The White Tiger, along with being an elaborate vignette of the age-old Indian class struggle, is the story of a humorously successful entrepreneur in the tech-fuelled modern Indian economy. The protagonist operates life with a dark side, that includes a murder for funding his business. The White Tiger serves almost as a critique of the globalised India, and describes how despite all the progress, the country is run, to a substantial level, by bribes and shut-eyes.
As you may have noticed, a major theme, in the winning and nominee works alike, is the friction that exists between the modern, globalised India and the free-minded, unsophisticated India, and how everything, from the aspirations of the characters to their beliefs, what important role does the colonial history play in the grand scheme of things.