Tired of narratives that obsess over spices, colours and cows on the road? These books, all by Indian writers, paint realistic pictures of the country’s geographical, cultural and political landscapes
• Share your own suggestions in the comments below
When I researched my book Around India in 80 Trains, one of the small joys of my four-month railway adventure was idling on platforms and rummaging through the iconic old Wheeler stalls for paperbacks to keep me company. Sometimes I’d get conned with pirated copies, flicking hungrily to the last few pages only to find they were missing, or the final lines had slid off the photocopied page. But for the most part my rucksack was stacked with stories that shaped the curves of my journey.
Tired of narratives that obsess over spices, colours and cows on the road, I’ve chosen books by Indian writers only; after all, who knows a country better than its own people? Where the authors have used the old names of cities, I’ve done so too, in order to convey the duality of their nature: having spent a couple of years living in Madras as a child, I know the familiar emotions and memories that the name conjures up, whereas Chennai is a completely different city to me.