Brooklyn magazine last month published an amazing map of USA with the best book from each of the states of USA. When I started the list, I was very happy as first first 2 states were Alabama and Alaska and their corresponding books were To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. My initial thought was that I am going to nail this list. That is what 2 out of 2 does to you. By the end of the list, I had only 5/50.
So, like a grumpy sub-continental, I decided to ditch the ‘American’ list and make my own list of the best books from Indian states. However, this is not the complete list, you can say just the first part. Again the list is in no order, like my blog, they are random.
1. Jammu and Kashmir: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rusdie :
To be honest, there is more Mumbai than Kashmir in this masterpiece but it is anything but the best version of Kashmir, Kashmir of 1915, just woken up from the Mughal dream.
2. Uttarakhand : The Room on the roof by Ruskin Bond
There are many reasons to include this book on the list. First of all, it is the first published literary work of the legendary Ruskin Bond (ok, i think so its enough to sell this book, no?). He was 17 when he wrote this book. It was set in Dehradun, and his love for the nature and the hills were evident in the book.
3. Telangana: The White Mughals by William Dylarmple
White Mughals is the narrative history by famous Scottish goatherd of India, William Dylarmple. It is a tragic love story between a White officer of British East India and Hyderabadi noble women.
4. Delhi: The White Tiger by Aravinda Adiga
This Booker’s prize winner shows the difference between 2 Indias: one, that is shining, ready to conquer the world, and another, is the India that is crippled by darkness.
5. Kerala : God of Small things by by Arundathi Roy
Ok, we have another Booker’s winner. Set in Kerala, this book takes you the wetlands of Kerala in middle of so-called revolution and the centurion conflicts.
6. West Bengal: Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Picking the best book from this state was particularly difficult because honestly, this state is the literary capital of India. While most of the books from the state is based in Kolkata, this one is at the foot of Himalayas, in Darjeeling (oh, it is also a Booker Prize winner )
7. Rajasthan: Cuckord by Kiran Nagarkar
Its a historic fiction based on the era of Mewad prince of Chittor Maharaj Kumar and his wife whose character is inspired by cult figure in Hindu devotional circles called Mira Bai.
8. Punjab: Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
This book is based on ugly partition of Punjab between 2 newly independent nations, India and Pakistan.
9. Maharastra: Shantaram by Geogory David Roberts
Spite of many books based in Mumbai, both by Indian and foreign authors, I choose Shantaram to represent this state.Many critic believes it is just a glorified view of Mumbai from a hippie in Colaba but still, it remains one of the most entertaining books from the region.
10. Karnataka: Swami and Friends by R K Narayan
R K Narayan can walk into any list and increase its bar and frankly, I could have picked any of his books, but the fictional village in the Mysore has always awestruck me, so Swami and Friends is representing both Karnataka and Malgudi here.
Help me make this list better. Please let me know your favorite books from the states that are (so far) left out from this list. I will include them in the next part.