Books about India

'India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition.' Mark Twain


To celebrate Channel 4's Indian Winter season, we thought we would put together a list of ten books about India. These are in no way prescriptive or 'the best.' So much is written about the country that we couldn't possibly cover everything.

These books range between ones you will have heard of and ones you haven't, but the common strand between them is that the authors all present their own takes on aspects of modern India, almost unrecognisable from the India of the past, and this is why they were chosen.

  • The White Tiger

    by Aravind Adiga
    Atlantic Books
    Over the course of seven nights, the White Tiger tells his story in Adiga's Man Booker Prize-winning debut novel. What we learn about India is the twin worlds of the bleak, soul-destroying poverty of village life and the glittering prizes...
  • Bunker 13

    by Aniruddha Bahal
    Faber and Faber
    Bunker 13 is a visceral explosion of sex, drugs and war- unlike anything any Indian author has ever written, unlike any book that has ever been written.
  • One Night at the Call Centre

    by Chetan Bhagat
    Black Swan
    One Night At the Call Centre is a comedic look at modern India's interactions with the West, taking place in a call centre where we learn about the lives behind the voices on the end of the line when we...
  • Bollywood Boy

    by Justine Hardy
    John Murray
    This amusing exploration of Bollywood and its twin extremes of extravagance and underworld by journalist Justine Hardy does justice to the high-concept day-glo filmi world of India.
  • Son of the Circus

    by John Irving
    Black Swan
    No one could accuse John Irving of writing the same book twice. A Son of the Circus takes us out of the safety of his New England safe haven and relocates to India for a bizarre murder mystery involving twins...
  • Bombay Talkie

    by Ameena Meer
    Serpent's Tail
    The book jolts into its relentless pace by starting at the end: main character Sabah's discovery of a dying boy in a temple; she knows him, she is connected to him.
  • Maximum City

    by Suketu Mehta
    Headline
    Suketu Mehta's impressive and expansive non-fiction book about modern Mumbai is the definitive book about this massive city.
  • Shalimar the Clown

    by Salman Rushdie
    Vintage
    Maximilian Ophuls is knifed to death on the doorstep of his illegitimate daughter India, slaughtered by his Kashmiri driver, a mysterious figure who calls himself Shalimar, the Clown.
  • Are You Experienced

    by William Sutcliffe
    Penguin
    Are You Experienced? is a scathing satire of the enthusiastic gap year tradition of students heading to mystical climbs to 'find themselves.'
  • Q and A

    by Vikas Swarup
    Black Swan
    Before Slumdog Millionaire, there was Q&A, the book by Vikas Swarup. Ram Mohammed Thomas, a poor, 18-year old waiter from the wrong side of the tracks, becomes the biggest quiz-show winner in history, scooping a billion rupee prize