Literary Podcasts in India were a discovery for me. I’ve always been interested in books and writing stuff like that. But reading has certain limitations. I can’t do it when I’m out for a walk, or when I’m working out, or as I commute.
I had heard some podcasts, but most were non-Indian in their context. Too American, mostly. Looking for shows material relevant to us, I went looking for literary podcasts in India. My final list of favourites has some Indian and some non-Indian ones.
The podcasts in question here are literary podcasts – ones that feature authors, talk about books, impart writing wisdom, and so on.
I am a recent listener – a few months old, and I have come to love this new way of accessing information. While listening, I scribble down my key takeaways from these literary podcasts in India, in a tiny notebook whenever possible. I then refer to it every time I begin to write something new.
For me, these literary podcasts in India have been of two-fold use – having access to engaging, real conversations either with or by a literary expert, talking about all cogs of the writing process and second, actually remembering real-time, helpful tips from a massive heap of information online and improving my writing based on these tactics.
Let’s start with literary podcasts in India:
Books & Beyond with Bound
- Host/s: Tara Khandelwal, Michelle D’costa
- Duration: 25-50 minutes
- Format: Informal interviews
- Genres in focus: Diverse – Non-fiction, Comic, Women-centric
- Why should you listen to it? This literary podcast will instantly rope you in because of how upbeat and refreshing it sounds. Each episode, which is usually a conversation between the hosts and a guest, is multi-faceted from the author’s personal life to their inspiration for writing to their unique writing process and so on. In no way do the conversations sound like training or hefty advice but more so a peek into a writer’s life to understand how to write better. One of my favorite episodes was the one featuring Tahira Kashyap Khurrana for her book The 12 Commandments of Being a Woman because of its candor and the revelations about the writing process, which hinged simply on honesty, more than any formal training. Other featured authors include Lisa Ray, Manu Pillai, Avni Doshi. After the immense success of Season 1 & 2, this podcast is back with Season 3.
- Link: https://boundindia.com/podcast/
The Book People
- Host/s: Aishwarya Javalgekar
- Duration: 45 minutes
- Format: Informal interviews with a publishing expert to gain industry insights and bust publishing myths.
- Genres in focus: Diverse
- Why should you listen to it? The Book People hosts an array of people from the publishing industry and otherwise working behind a book that includes editors, influencers, publicists, cover designers, independent book shop owners, bookstagrammers, etc. The aim is to give a 360 degree perspective of the literary world to a writer.
- Link: The Book People Podcast – BOUND (boundindia.com)
- Host/s: Supriya Nair and Deepanjana Pal
- Duration: 20-45 minutes
- Format: Discussion
- Genres in focus: Literary Topics, Non-Fiction
- Why should you listen to it: The host duo critically analyzes or knit picks on books and writing as well as areas related to writing such as literary prizes and their significance, literature festivals and the purpose they serve, etc. The best feature of this literary podcast is the hosts’ unabashedness and honest approach to critiquing writing. They also discuss the publishing industry in India in-depth, including which type of writing sells the most.
- Link: https://podcasts.apple.com/in/podcast/the-lit-pickers/id1493505454
Beyond the Lines
- Host/s: Priya Kapoor and Chirag Thakkar
- Duration: 30 minutes
- Format: Informal Discussion
- Why should you listen to it? Beyond the Lines is a podcast by Roli Books that dissects Indian books and writing, diving into culture and things that inform it, and reflects on our times. The hosts chat with various writers, artists and creative heads on an episode each. The guests tell their stories, talk about ideas that inspire them, their guilty pleasures and passions that drive them.
- Link: Beyond the Lines | Podcast on Spotify
- Host/s: Raachyeta Sharma and Satyajit Roy
- Duration: 30-60 minutes
- Format: Interview/Q&A
- Why should you listen to it? This literary podcast features authors who may not have spent their whole lives writing but rather are people from all walks of life who found themselves gravitating towards writing. Authors on this literary podcast are chefs, parents, expert marketers, and so on. Besides, in some episodes, they also discuss books that have been an integral part of the guest’s life and writing journey introducing the listener to some novel and interesting Indian non-fiction work. What this format also does for me was take away from the intimidation that may come from listening to a full-time writer, who has spent years near-perfecting the craft, and thus, put new writers at ease. While it does get into each author’s writing process, there isn’t much meat on tips and tricks since each episode is a free-flowing discussion on the book in question and the author’s inspiration behind it.
- Link: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/paperback/id1444861653
The Yodakin Podcast
- Host: Arpita Das
- Duration: 30 mins – 60 mins
- Format: Discussion
- Genres in focus: Writing
- Why you should listen to it: The Yodakin Podcast is a larger conversation on and with the books published by Yoda Press and their authors. It is an interesting conversation between a publisher and their author which talks about writing and the publishing journey along with other aspects of writing a book like a writer’s block, research, etc.
- Link: The Yodakin Podcast | Podcast on Spotify
- Host: Siddharth Gupta
- Duration: 40 mins – 60 mins
- Format: Discussion/ Q and A
- Genres in focus: Writing and Publishing
- Why you should listen to it: Kitabi Karwan (or KK) was born out of a desire to truly fulfill every bookworm’s desire to seek genuine engagement and discussions about books, and authors, and writers, and all other related creative personnel associated with the process. This podcast doesn’t talk about ratings nor do they analyze or review books. The podcast only discusses them, what they made the reader feel. They talk about how the writer became what they are today, how did they write this piece, and of course, who and what they end up reading.
- Link: Kitabi Karwan • A podcast on Anchor
- Host: Nikesh Murali
- Duration: 10-30 mins
- Format: Narrative
- Genres in focus: Thriller, Horror
- Why you should listen to it: If you want your podcast-listening experience to feel close to a theatrical one, Indian Noir should be your pick. The host Nikesh Murali is a professional voice actor and an Amazon-bestselling, Commonwealth Short Story Prize and DWL Story Prize-winning writer. Although the genre is limited to strictly horror/thriller, Nikesh ensures to make it worth the listener’s while. Each episode is a horror story (fiction and at times, real) narrated with sound effects and a voice that is sure to give you goosebumps. Nikesh is passionate and his voice is proof. Since each episode is a continuation of the previous one, it is definitely time-taking to listen to the whole series. What one can also do though, in case of limited time, is listen to the Indian Noir X episodes, which are real-life paranormal experiences and urban myths shared by a listener. These are quick, full of action, and suspenseful. No interviews take place in this podcast but it’s surely a great way to learn the art of horror writing and narrating.
- Link: https://anchor.fm/indiannoir/
- Host: Natasha Malpani Oswal
- Duration: 6-10 minutes
- Format: Monologue
- Genres in focus: Poetry
- Why you should listen to it: This literary podcast takes the listeners through the poetry book Boundless by Natasha Malpani Oswal but while she does read out loud a poem from the book each time for an episode, she also links it to a real-life concept or issue. Some of the interesting ones covered are side hustles, turning 30, colourism, relationships, among others. What I like most about this podcast is that it’s realistic and informal. As for learning about writing, one can try to understand from her poems but she does not break them down based on style or structure.
- Link: https://ivmpodcasts.com/boundless
Books That Speak
- Host: Varies per episode
- Duration: 10-30 minutes
- Format: Narrative, Book Reading
- Genres in focus: Children’s Books/Stories
- Why should you listen to it: This literary podcast in India is simply a narrator reading children’s books. Breaking away from the traditional podcast format, this podcast is an emotive reading of a children’s book, often in different languages such as English, Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati. It is a fine way to engross children into the habit of “reading” books as well as connecting them to a regional language. Each episode is akin to reading a book with illustrative pictures, excitement, and a range of emotions, that are well incorporated in the narrator’s style of reading.
- Link: https://www.booksthatspeak.com/
Off the Shelf
- Host/s: Sridhar Balan
- Duration: 55-60 minutes
- Format: Monologue
- Genres in focus: Books and Publishing (Indian and International)
- Why should you listen to it: Sridhar Balan is an industry veteran. After a few years teaching at a university, Sridhar Balan joined the publishing industry and had long careers with Oxford University Press and Ratna Sagar. He has also been a literary columnist with several Indian newspapers. He is currently a consultant with Ratna Books, an imprint for translations. In this literary podcast, he brings together his love for books and publishing together to share some interesting insights about the industry as he saw it. It has stories of amazing bookshops, inspiring writers, how certain book deals were finalized, what made a particular book sell – the stories are very interesting and his narration style makes you feel comfortable enough to lose track of time. Interesting place to understand how it all works – apart from writing.
- Link: Off The Shelf Podcast – EP5 – Brave women booksellers who defied the Nazis (flyx.me)
Apart from these literary podcasts in India, there are also some international literary podcasts that I feel are definitely worth listening to:
- Host/s: Crystal-Lee Quibell
- Duration: 25-90 minutes
- Format: Q&A / Interviews
- Why should you listen to it: This podcast will open you to interesting insights ranging from fiction to freelance writing to writing for the news. Crystal-Lee’s aim was to create a platform where people would talk about the not-so-glam realities of creative writing and publishing such as “what (writers) got paid, or how important pre-orders were, that book sales could vastly affect the chance at a second or third book deal, etc.”And that is exactly what this podcast covers.
- Link: https://open.spotify.com/show/3xSu97F0qlC900qSl8SPch
In Writing with Hattie Crisell
- Host: Hattie Crisell
- Duration: 30-60 minutes
- Format: Interview / Q and A
- Genres in focus: Writing process of novelists, journalists, songwriters, poets, restaurant critics, screenwriters, among others.
- Why should you listen to it: This literary podcast really scratches beneath the surface when it comes to the writing process. The language of the podcast is simple and the tone, energetic and really holds the listener. I was able to learn a few things from listening to Crisell’s podcast – from building imagination, bringing characters to life to being empathetic as a writer. In some episodes such as the one with novelist and creative writing professor George Saunders, he introduces writing practices that one can do in their routine to write better first drafts and to climb to the other side of the writer’s block. As a bonus, the host also talks about literary prizes, the application process, the number of contenders, how daunting it can be, and so on.
- Link: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/in-writing-with-hattie-crisell/id1490412801
The Creative Penn Podcast for Writers
- Host/s: Joanna Penn
- Duration: 40-70 minutes
- Format: Monologue and Interview/Q&A
- Genres in focus: A mesh of both worlds – writing and the business of it.
- Why should you listen to it: This literary podcast focuses on the trials and tribulations of today’s writers, who want to make a mark for themselves through various streams like blogging, YouTube videos, social media marketing, in addition to writing and publishing. One of my favourite episodes is with narrative nonfiction and Pulitzer-nominated writer Matt Hongoltz-Hetling who talks elaborately about the editing process. He does so by explaining the editing of a magazine article from 32,000 words to 4,000. This literary podcast is perky, helps one to reflect on their writing process and become better at it with the only drawback that the host’s introductions are often quite long, though not necessarily faff.
- Link: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-creative-penn-podcast-for-writers/id309426367
- Host/s: Dan Simpson
- Duration: 30-45 minutes
- Format: Interview/Q&A
- Genres in focus: Fiction
- Why should you listen to it: This literary podcast explores a different side to writing – from when someone wakes up to how much time they spend writing to its links to working out and mental health. He asks his guests deep questions about getting addicted to writing and how that may not always be fun. On the craft front, he interviews the guests on how to build character sketches, how to travel time when writing fiction, how much time to spend re-writing, etc. The range of writers is wide with comedy writers, thriller novelists to maiden authors. Tips on fueling creativity and blocking out distractions are in abundance in each episode.
- Link: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/writers-routine/id1273996998
- Host/s: Moni Mohsin & Faiza Khan
- Duration: 30-45 minutes
- Format: Discussion
- Genres in focus: Diversity Books & Films.
- Why should you listen to it: Browned Off is a podcast in which Moni Mohsin, an author, and Faiza Khan, a publisher, take a light-hearted look at the arts in the UK, discussing the various ways in which diversity is catching up and the ways in which it’s falling short. Every week they look at the various stereotypes used to define people of colour and the artists who’ve survived them or succumbed to them. Their interactions are funny, insightful and thought-provoking.
- Link:Moni Mohsin’s Browned Off Podcasts | monimohsin.com
Sample these literary podcasts in India and internationally and choose the ones that work for you. This list is a good starting point for anyone interested in literary podcasts in India and internationally. Beyond the above list, there are a good number of literary podcasts which you could try out. The Guardian Books Podcast, Sentimental Garbage, The Penguin Podcast, You’re Booked, etc. are all good options to also try out. I often find myself going back to these.
I have jotted down a host of writing techniques and book recommendations from these literary podcasts and find myself referring to them often while reading or writing. I hope you too will find some audible munchables for that long commute or just to get the writer in you, well, writing!
Did this list miss any of your favourite literary podcasts in India or internationally? Do share them in the comments below.