The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru
There is no better book to understand the history of India. Right from the Indus valley civilization through the various phases of its history, it is truly a journey to discover India. Written by Jahawarlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, when he was imprisoned during India’s freedom struggle, this book was an effort by the leader to understand and chronicle the rich past of his country.
“India has known the innocence and insouciance of childhood, the passion and abandon of youth, and the ripe wisdom of maturity that comes from long experience of pain and pleasure; and over and over again she has renewed her childhood and youth and age”
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Nothing captures post Independence India like Salman Rushdie’s seminal work – Midnight’s Children, which is probably the best book ever written about India.
“No people whose word for ‘yesterday’ is the same as their word for ‘tomorrow’ can be said to have a firm grip on the time.”
“India, the new myth–a collective fiction in which anything was possible, a fable rivalled only by the two other mighty fantasies: money and God.”
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The White Tiger is to post globalization India, what Midnight’s Children is to post colonial India. Aravind has such a fine understanding of the pulse of this new India, it almost make me jealous.
“Go to Old Delhi,and look at the way they keep chickens there in the market. Hundred of pale hens and brightly colored roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages. They see the organs of their brothers lying around them.They know they are next, yet they cannot rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop. The very same thing is done with humans in this country.”
“The trustworthiness of servants is the basis of the entire Indian economy.”
“Do you know about Hanuman, sir? He was the faithful servant of the god Rama, and we worship him in our temples because he is a shining example of how to serve your masters with absolute fidelity, love, and devotion.
These are the kinds of gods they have foisted on us Mr. Jiabao. Understand, now, how hard it is for a man to win his freedom in India.”
5 thoughts on “Trying to Understand India – Three Books You Must Read”
Agree with you. Haven’t read Chacha Nehru’s book, but the other two books so reflect the India at the time the books were written.
I’ve read Midninght’s Children twice and just watched the movie… Incredible that somebody has the guts to make a film out of this book 🙂 A lot was lost, it was like reading the book on fast forward… Still, I enjoyed the film a lot!
Exactly – the book is so complex and layered, it was a very tough job to make a movie out if it. Still, I agree that Deepa Metha did a decent job.
I really liked White Tiger. Have you read any of his other books – I would be interested to know what you think of them (esp. Last Man in Tower).
Yes, I have read Last Man in the Tower. It is a good book, but pales in comparison with White Tiger, which I believe is one of the finest books of the last decade.