For centuries India has captured the imagination of the artistic world. From painters to poets to writers and sculptors, the sub-continent abounds with inspiration that has given rise to stories and works of art that will endure for many centuries more. Perhaps it is the diversity of people, the unique culture, the food, the music, the colours or the sounds that make India such a wellspring of culture and inspiration -- all the things that Tripzuki loves too! Perhaps it is something more than this -- the spirit of India that is known and loved but can't be pinned down. Whatever the answer, there is a wealth to discover when travelling across this great country. With long train journeys or lazy days on the beach, the opportunity to engross yourself in a good book is never too far off, so we thought it would be useful to give you a few tips of books set in India that will both captivate and inspire you wherever your travels lead.
No list of books to read in India would be complete without Gregory David Roberts' cult classic Shantaram. Set in Bombay, the story follows Lin, an escaped convict from Australia, as he navigates the criminal underworld of India's financial capital. Rich with life and colourful characters, you will get lost amongst the winding streets and tales of a Bombay still getting to grips with modern life. The acute observations of India from the perspective of a Western foreigner are particularly entertaining and if you're not immediately drawn to visit Leopold's when you finish then we'll eat our hats. Don't be fooled by the size of it either, you will go tearing through it as the pace never lets up until you emerge breathless some 1000 pages later. An old rumour has it that Johnny Depp is signed up to star in a film adaptation, but despite a visit to Goa scouting locations it doesn't look like it's going to be made any time soon.
The long awaited sequel picks up where Shantaram, leaves off with Lin navigating the new world he finds himself in. We won't go into too much detail for fear or spoiling it, but rest assured it has the same depth and colour of its prequel and every bit as wonderful. Buy it before you finish Shantaram because you're not going to want to wait even a minute to dive straight in.
3. Chasing the Monsoon
A fascinating non-fiction classic, Chasing the Monsoon recounts Alexander Frater's attempt to follow the path of the monsoon as it arrives on the southernmost tip of the subcontinent and sweeps up the country before reaching Cherrapunji, one of the wettest places on earth. Through turbulence and rows of red tape, Frater desperately tries to get authorisation to go to the state of Meghalaya before he misses the fabled arrival of the rain so fierce it bursts waterfalls through the rock faces and creates a kind of water wonderland in the mountains. A fascinating travel tale through India wrapped around one of the world's most famous meteorological events.
Author Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize for this beautifully crafted, poetic novel. The God of Small Things sets a tale of love against the backdrop of the Indian caste system -- where even love for children you cherish as your own can set the world against you. This novel will break your heart with its beautifully written prose and leave tears in your eyes until the final page.
Another Booker Prize-winning novel, The White Tiger encapsulates the Indian spirit of self-improvement as a chauffeur seeks to make a better world for himself in an ever-changing country. The tale takes many twists and turns and will catch you by surprise, but the richness of the world painted by author Aravind Adiga will draw you in so close you feel complicit in what takes place.
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