South Asian-Inspired Book Recommendations

Thank you to Shivangi Gangwar, LLM’13 and James Nye, University of Chicago Bibliographer for Southern Asia, for the following book recommendations.


Freedom at Midnight be Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
A retelling of the last months of British rule in India, starting from Mountbatten’s deployment as the last Viceroy and ending with the famous “tryst with destiny” speech made by Pandit Nehru on the eve of India’s independence in August 1947.

India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
Picks up from where most history texts finish (August 1947 or Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in January 1948) and takes the reader through modern, 20th century India.

The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen
A collection of essays showcasing India’s rich political, historical, cultural, and intellectual wealth.

Godan by Munshi Premchand (celebrated Hindi author)
Probably the most famous work by Premchand, this novel depicts the exploitation of the poor in the name of religion.

Malgudi Days by R. K. Narayan
Set in a fictional town in south India, this collection of stories showcases the simple, nondescript life of an everyday Indian.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
A novel set in post-Indepence India that tackles the changing social milieu via the arranged marriage of the lead character.

Books that won the Man Booker Prize*

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Awarded the Booker of the Bookers, this novel deals both with the aftermath of Partition and Independence, as well as the Emergecny imposed in 1975.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The non-chronological look into the lives of a set of fraternal twins as they endure hardship and overcome loss both together and separately, intertwined with significant caste system nuances.

White Tiger by Arvind Adiga
A comparison between two contradictory versions of India existing at the same time.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
A window into the insurgency movements taking place in northeast India.


*The prize, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008 after launching in 1969, aims to promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.  To maintain the consistent excellence of the Man Booker Prize, judges are chosen from a wide range of disciplines, including critics, writers and academics, but also poets, politicians and actors, all with a passion for quality fiction.