Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tagged: Indian Writing

I am not a picky reader. A consequence of this locust style devouring of any book that comes my way, is that few books make a deep enough impact for me to remember them much after I've read them.

That's not to say that there aren't any, of course. And while by my own standards I don't think I've read much Indian writing, there are still several memorable books and writers that I would like to list for this tag from Kiran.

I was introduced to Indian writing through the short story collections of Ruskin Bond and R K Narayan. As a young reader, I took their stories at face value, not looking for any deeper meanings or hidden philosophy. I love the simple style and engaging characters that are typical of both these writers.

My only encounter with poetry that was not dictated by school or college curriculum, was Tagore's Gitanjali. There was an old book I found that had a collection of Nobel Prize winning literature, and though I know I read it all, I can only remember Gitanjali and funnily enough, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch. I do not know what became of that book, a fact which I regret deeply, since it was certainly an odd collection to have paired such dramatically different works, and I would've liked to read it again to remember what else it contained.

Then there is The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh. This was the first of his books that I read and also the one that I remember most clearly. Which is strange, since I read it over 10 years ago, while I read The Glass Palace and The Hungry Tide more recently. Yet it is the adventures of bumpy-headed Alu and his pursuer Das that remain vividly etched in my memory.

I love absolutely everything by Rohinton Mistry. His characters - eccentric, but not outrageously so - are real and likeable. His writing is simple and straightforward and he draws you into his world with deceptive ease. No gimmicks, no fancy prose, no showing off. My kind of man. My kind of book.

A writer who does come across as flashy to me is Arundhati Roy. I thought she tried too hard to create 'picturesque' prose. But for all that, I did enjoy The God of Small Things. Maybe because the place and people she describes were so familiar to me, it was almost like reading a book about family. It was fascinating.

My Own Country: A doctor's story is another book that touched my heart. It is an autobiographical account by Abraham Verghese about dealing with AIDS in a rural community at a time when very little was known about the disease.

I really enjoy reading plays, but there aren't very many Indian playwrights who write in English. Manjula Padmanabhan's Harvest had me riveted. Set in the future - a future that appears horrifyingly possible - it is a wonderful example of the best sort of Sci-Fi literature.

Currently waiting on my bookshelf are Q & A by Vikas Swarup, Three Novels by Amit Chaudhuri, and The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu. The last book was bought out of sheer curiosity because it was the first Indian SF/Fantasy book that I had come across, a genre that I am rather partial to.

Reading through everyone else's lists has given me a large number of titles that I will need to get Moppet's Papa to pick up for me the next time he's in India. I had better send him with a big suitcase!

Passing on the tag to Sue, Suki, Squiggles Mom, Mystic Margarita, and Minka.


Poppins said...

Damn that's a bigger and a better list than mine. I am ashamed to be such a poor reader for all my claims of being a book lover :(

Ardra said...

am new here...wanted to say something on your prev post...but...

take care
shall keep coming back for more
warm rgds

B o o said...

Wow, great list! I forgot to include Q&A by Vikas Swarup in my list. Was a good read. I love how you and others dissect a book and strongly tell your opinion. For me, its either I love it or hate it and I cant explain why.

karmickids said...

What an interesting list, and yes, you reminded me about Rohinton Mistry, how could I have forgotten him???

minerva said...

HAve been lurking around for a while and enjoying your Moppet tales.

Impressive list of Indian books that was! I felt exactly the same way about "The God of Small things"

Moppet's Mom said...

Poppins: Come on! Bigger maybe, but better? Who's to say? I've enjoyed all the books on your list too...

Ardra: Welcome and thanks.

Boo: Oh good, shall read Q & A first then, seeing as you've given it a thumbs up. I bet you're the sort of reader every writer dreams of, I don't think writers much appreciate their work being dissected :-)

And thank you. You know for what.

Kiran: Absolutely...the thing with these lists is that they can never be quite complete.

Minerva: Welcome, and thanks for de-lurking!

Mystic Margarita said...

Thanks for tagging me, Moppet's Mom. I'll take it up as soon as I can.

Squiggles Mom said...

You've covered most of my favourites! I haven't read all on your list though so I'm glad I've got a good list to choose from. DO you think we can exchange from Bkk to Sing?

Just Like That said...

hmmm- so many of my fellow bloggers have read so much more of Indian writing than I have.
I wonder if I am becoming one of those people I dislike- those who look down on anything Indian?
Have to buck up..

In your list, I have only read GOST, and I loved it. I also like Gitanjali, tho' I haven't read it

Poppins has tagged me too, will take it up soon..

Suki said...

;). Thanks! :D

Moppet's Mom said...

Mystic: Goody!

Squiggles Mom: Why not?! Come on over!

JLT: Hey, that's a huge leap to make from the simple fact that you haven't read much Indian writing....don't be so harsh on yourself. Will look forward to your list.

Suki: You're welcome! Now get to it! :-))

the mad momma said...