(August 1, 2022) The world of Indian literature has produced innumerable gems, some of which have found admiration from across the globe. Telling the stories that strike the right chord has often been on every Indian author’s agenda, and many have successfully been able to nail it with their words. Global Indian turns the spotlight on five new-age Indian authors, who are taking over the world of literature.
The Kota-born and Cardiff–raised Nikita Lalwani debut novel Gifted won the hearts of bibliophiles across the globe. It was in school that her tryst with writing began. But it wasn’t until she read Gerard Woodward’s I’ll Go to Bed at Noon (2004) that inspired her to take her writing seriously. Thus began her journey into the world if literature when she penned the story of a young math prodigy Rumi Vasi, burdened by her father’s dreams in Gifted.
The alumni of Bristol University, pitted a parent’s aspirations against that of their child in her debut novel, exploring how much one can endure in the name of love. It was longlisted for the International Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Motivated by the appreciation for Gifted, Nikita penned the story of a real-life ‘prison village’ in northern India in her second novel – The Village – and won the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered award. Her third novel, You People, which was released just last year, too struck the right chord with book lovers.
The author, whose work has been translated into sixteen languages, is also a regular columnist in many esteemed newspapers, including New Statesman, The Observer, and Guardian.
- Follow Nikita Lallwani on her website
When she left Kolkata in 2006 to pursue social anthropology at Harvard University, little did she know that someday her book would top the New York Times best-seller list. But destiny had a plan in place, and her book A Burning, not only grabbed the world’s attention but managed to bag the prestigious Whiting Award 2022. However, the former editor-in-chief of Catapult Books, wasn’t confident of making it big in the US with her first book. In an interview with Harvard Magazine, she revealed, “I mean, it’s so very specifically about India”. The book narrates the story of Jivan, a Kolkata girl, who is arrested after she makes an ill-advised Facebook post about terrorism. The story revolves around the streets and slums of Kolkata, taking the readers through the city prisons and packed local trains.
The author, who recently stepped down from her job, plans to dedicate her time to writing and teaching. “It was a very hard decision to leave my role at Catapult. I wish there were enough hours in the day to do both. I feel it’s the right time to see what I can do and what can happen if I bring my full energy to writing. It feels like the right time to center writing, which I never have done—I’ve always squeezed it in at the edges of the day, and it has often been pushed out by other obligations,” she explained in a recent interview with The Atlantic.
- Follow Megha Majumdar on Twitter
After fourteen successful years in the banking sector, Amish Tripathi decided to dip his toes into the world of writing with Indian mythology. Understanding the need to make space for the genre, he penned his first book The Immortals of Meluha in 2010. It became an overnight success, and the entire India couldn’t stop raving about a book on the life of Shiva. The immense success prompted the author to belt out two more books in the series – The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras. Always trying to give an unusual twist to the mythological tales, Amish is all set to release the fourth and last book in the Ram Chandra series – which is based on the Hindu epic Ramayan. He has sold over 5.5 million copies of the nine books he has written, which were translated into over 20 languages.
His strong narration and ability to transport the readers to the scenes helped him earn USA’s prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship in 2014. “I genuinely believe that my stories are a blessing from Lord Shiva and my task is to get as much knowledge as I can. How the story shapes up, is up to Lord Shiva,” Amish has once said during an interview with Deccan Chronicle. The winner of several awards, including the 21st Century Icon and Golden Book Award, the author is also India’s senior diplomat to the United Kingdom, where he is working as the Director of The Nehru Centre in London, since 2019.
Pulling all-nights to finish a book, that’s how his love affair with books started at a tender age. But this love for books soon translated into a dream profession, and making a career in writing didn’t come as a surprise to his family and friends. Happy with the support, he began writing his debut novel Coconut Unlimited which revolves around three friends Amit, Anand, and Nishant, and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. It’s the attention to race, racial identities, and the life of immigrants that has made Nikesh a writer par excellence.
And he recently revealed to The Guardian that he tries to put a part of himself in the characters. “Part of me really just wants to bleed on the page. If I’m writing for my daughters, I want them to know who I am,” he said. His latest release, Brown Baby is a beautiful memoir that speaks about the importance of hope, and through the book, he cleverly explores various social issues plaguing the world today. Talking humorously about matters such as feminism, parenting, and life racism, the author has dedicated the novel to his two young daughters.
Known as one of the most intellectual authors of our times, British-Indian author Sunjeev Sahota has produced some very engaging novels. His latest release, China Room, was in the running for International Booker’s Prize, 2021, alongside Nobel-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, and Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Powers’ Bewilderment.
Sunjeev was introduced to the literary world quite late – when he was 18 years old. It was during a visit to his family in India that he came across Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, and it opened up a new world for him. Speaking about discovering the world of the words, Sunjeev told Guardian during an interview, “When I started reading, I felt a real sense that the conversation between the reader and the writer is something where meaning and truth are found. I must have responded to that incredibly strongly because I did just bury myself in novels from that point.”
But like many, he took the conventional path and ended up working for an insurance company after studying at mathematics at the Imperial College London. But writing kept drawing him, and he finally gave in, and ended up writing his debut book Ours are the Streets, which narrates the story of a British Pakistani person who becomes a suicide bomber. His second novel, The Year of the Runaways, was also shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.