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63 Notable Writers and Poets to discover in Indian Writing

Introduction to Indian Writing

Indian writing in English is a tradition that goes back to colonial times. Since then, a fascinating category of literature has emerged. Indian writers have pushed the frontier of the language, creating new traditions across genres. The earliest writers lived and worked during the nineteenth century. British India, by that time, had a system of western education for the elite, and as a result, a generation grew up able to express itself in the language of the colonizers.

For a long time, there was no real acknowledgment for Indian writing. They did not fit into a previously known category of Indian literature and were perceived to not be as good as western writers. Since then, however, Indian Writing has gone through various transformations.

The first publishing house that published English paperbacks in India was Jaico Publishing House. It was established in 1946. They were the first ones to publish English translations of writings in regional languages from across the country. Till a decade ago, there were no awards instituted that could acknowledge original writing in English in the country. Today, however, a list of highly respected Indian awards exists. Some of these include the Sahitya Akademi Award, JCB Prize for Literature, and The Hindu Literary Prize.

In its history of almost two centuries, Indian writing in English has grown and expanded in unimaginable ways. Covering every genre and creating a space for themselves, Indian writers in English have established their own flourishing literary tradition.

Indian Writing
Image Source: Hindustan Times

The following is a list of some of the notable figures of writers and poets who have contributed immensely to Indian Writing.

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Indian Authors (Based in India)

Arundhathi Subramaniam

Arundhathi Subramaniam is a poet and writer on spirituality and culture. She has worked over the years as a poetry editor, curator, and journalist on literature, classical dance, and theatre.

  • Type of writing: Mainly poetry.
    Notable Works in Indian Writing: When God is a Traveller, Women Who Wear Only Themselves, Love Without A Story
  • Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, Inaugural Khushwant Singh Prize, the Raza Award for Poetry, the Zee Women’s Award for Literature, the International Piero Bigongiari Prize in Italy, the Mystic Kalinga award, the Charles Wallace, Visiting Arts and Homi Bhabha Fellowships.

Ranjit Hoskote

Ranjit Hoskote is an Indian poet, art critic, cultural theorist, and independent curator.

  • Type of writing: Poetry, Essayist and Translations.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Zones of Assault, The Cartographer’s Apprentice, Central Time, Jonahwhale, The Sleepwalker’s Archive and Vanishing Acts: New & Selected Poems 1985–2005
  • Awards: Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, with the Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee Award and the Sahitya Akademi Prize for Translation.

Arunava Sinha

Arunava Sinha is a critically acclaimed translator. He translates classic, modern, and contemporary Bengali fiction and nonfiction into English

  • Type of writing: Translations.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Khwabnama, The Greatest Bengali Stories Ever Told, Dozakhnama
  • Awards: 6th Vani Foundation Distinguished Translator Award 2022, Twice the winner of the Crossword translation award, winner of the Muse India translation award (2013), shortlisted for The Independent Foreign Fiction prize (2009) and the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative Translated YA Book Prize and longlisted for the Best Translated Book award, USA, 2018.

Michael Madhusudan Dutt

Michael Madhusudan Dutt was a pioneer in the field of Indian writing in English. Born in Bengal in 1824, he came to scorn Bengali culture and language. He wrote poetry in English and wanted to be counted as a member of the hall of fame of British poets. He converted to Christianity.

  • Type of writing: Mainly poetry.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: The Captive Ladie, King Porus, Sonnets and Other Poems

Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh was born in a part of Punjab that is in present-day Pakistan. He was a public figure of considerable repute. His career included serving in the Rajya Sabha and working in the Indian Foreign Service. He was also the editor of various newspapers and literary magazines. His writing is known for its wit and compassion.

  • Type of writer: He has written an impressive number of novels, as well as several short stories.
  • Notable works: Train to Pakistan, The Company of Women, Delhi: A Novel
  • Awards in Indian Writing: Singh was a Fellow of King’s College London and received a Sahitya Akademi Fellowship. He was awarded a Padma Bhushan, which he returned as a token of protest. Later, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India.

Nissim Ezekiel

Nissim Ezekiel was born in 1924 in Mumbai. As an Indian Jewish writer, he had a vantage point not shared by many others. An important figure in post-independence Indian Literature, he is known for his contribution to Indian English poetry.

  • Type of writer: Poetry and plays.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Latter-Day Psalms
  • Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, Padma Shri

Mulk Raj Anand

Mulk Raj Anand was one of the earliest Indian writers in English to write about the oppression of the caste system. He wrote of the experiences of the lower castes. His work tended to be political, and some even consider it revolutionary. . He included Punjabi and Hindustani phrases in his writing, creating a new form of expression.

  • Type of writer: Anand wrote novels, short stories, and also several volumes of autobiography
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Two Leaves and a Bud, Untouchable, Coolie
  • Awards: Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi Award, International Peace Prize

Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu is one of the most prominent writers in Independence-era India. Known as the ‘Nightingale of India’ Naidu wrote and worked for women’s emancipation and anti-imperialism. She was the first woman to be a governor in the dominion of India and was a vocal follower of Mahatma Gandhi. As a writer, she is known for her evocative imagery.

  • Type of writer: Primarily a poet.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: In the Bazaars of Hyderabad

R. K. Narayan

Any discussion of Indian writing in English is incomplete without a mention of R.K Narayan. His writing is credited with bringing alive the Indian experience with a mystery of language. His best work is infused with wit, humour, and compassion. His career spanned around 60 years. In that time, he created fictional settings and characters that are as alive today as they were when they were written.

  • Type of writer: Narayan is best known for his short stories and novels. However he also
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Swami and Friends, Malgudi Days
  • Awards: Padma Vibhushan, Sahitya Akademi Award. He was also awarded the AC Benson Medal and honorary membership by the Royal Society of Literature. Delhi University, University of Leeds, and the University of Mysore conferred honorary doctorates upon him.

Vikram Seth

A force in modern Indian writing in English, Vikram Seth is an important writer in the genre. Known for his rich descriptions and subtle storytelling, Seth has received international acclaim. He was born in Kolkata and educated in India and Britain.

  • Type of writer: Best known for his novels, Seth has also published some poetry and nonfiction, as well as children’s fiction.
  • Notable work in Indian Writing: A Suitable Boy, An Equal Music, The Golden Gate
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, Commonwealth Writers Prize, Commonwealth Poetry Prize, Padma Shri, Order of the British Empire (Commander), WH Smith Literary Award.

Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh has contributed greatly to the canon of Indian writing in English. Born in Kolkata and educated in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria, he spent his early years in many different places.

  • Type of writer: Ghosh is primarily a novelist.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: The Shadow Lines, The Hungry Tide, The Ibis Trilogy, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace
  • Notable Awards: Jnanpith Award, Sahitya Akademi Award, Ananda Puruskar, Padma Shri, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

A.K Ramanujan

Ramanujan was a writer who wrote extensively in both English and Kannada. In his lifetime, he wrote a number of essays and research papers but is best remembered for his poems. Ramanujan’s poetry is some of the most outstanding works in Indian poetry in the English language.

  • Type of writer: Best known for poetry, though his work spans many genres.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: The Striders, Selected Poems
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, Padma Shri, MacArthur Fellowship

Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor is an established politician, writer, and intellectual. He has published work across genres, from novels to non-fiction. He is a member of Parliament, a member of the Indian National Congress, and has been a public figure for decades.

  • Type of writer: Tharoor is a versatile writer. His published work spans different genres.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: The Great Indian Novel, Why I Am A Hindu
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy is a well-known Indian writer and activist. An important voice of the left, she has written both fiction and nonfiction. Her novels as well as her essays have received acclaim. Her novel ‘The God of Small Things’ became the best-selling book by a resident Indian author.

  • Type of writer: Roy started her career as a screenwriter. She has written several novels. She is also known for her articles and essays on various political, economic, social, and humanitarian issues.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: The God of Small Things, The Ministry of Happiness
  • Notable Awards: Booker Prize, Orwell Award. She was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award but refused it in protest of certain policies of the Indian Government.
Indian Writing
Discover more authors and titles in Indian Writing in the HWR Nielsen Bestseller List.

Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond is of British descent, although his nationality is Indian, and he has been a lifetime resident of India. He is the beloved author of many books, short stories, poems, and children’s books. He lives in Landour, Mussoorie, and has immortalized the way of life in the Himalayan regions in his work.

  • Type of writer: Bond has written novels, short stories, and poems. He has also written autobiographical accounts and children’s literature.
  • Notable Work in Indian Writing: Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra, The Blue Umbrella, The Room on the Roof
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Awards, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri

Anita Desai

Anita Desai has received international acclaim for her novels. Born in 1937, she has had an extensive writing career and has published many books. One of her novels, ‘In Custody’ was adapted into a screenplay and made into a film that received critical acclaim.

  • Type of writer: Primarily a novelist.
  • Notable Work in Indian Writing: Clear Light of Day, Baumgartner’s Bombay, In Custody
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, Padma Bhushan, Neil Gunn Prize, Benson Medal (Royal Society of Literature). She has been shortlisted for the Booker prize on three occasions.

Romila Thapar

Romila Thapar is considered to be an academic powerhouse and an important voice in the study of Indian History.

  • Type of writer: Historian.
  • Notable Work in Indian Writing: Ashoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, History and Beyond, Cultural Transaction and Early India: Tradition and Patronage and Somanatha: The Many Voices of History.
  • Notable Awards: Kluge Prize (2008)

Ramchandra Guha

Ramchandra Guha is an Indian historian, environmentalist, writer, and public intellectual whose research interests include social, political, contemporary, environmental, and cricket history, and the field of economics.

  • Type of writer: Economist and Essayist.
  • Notable Work in Indian Writing: India after Gandhi · Gandhi Before India · Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World
  • Notable Awards: R. K. Narayan Prize (2003)

Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai is an internationally acclaimed author and daughter of Anita Desai. She is known for her rich descriptions and characterization. She is mainly a writer of fiction.

  • Type of writer: Primarily a novelist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, The Inheritance of Loss
  • Notable Awards: Man Booker Prize, Berlin Prize Fellowship, Betty Trask Award

Gieve Patel

Gieve Patel is best known for his poetry, but he is also an accomplished playwright and painter. He has written thirteen plays and has exhibited his paintings all over the world. His writing is sensitive, reflective, and often concerned with the destruction of nature. He is also a prang doctor.

  • Type of writer: Known mainly for his poetry
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Mirrored Mirroring, Body, How Do You Withstand
  • Notable Awards: Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, Rockefeller Fellowships. His poetry is included in ‘Anthology of Indian Poetry’

Jerry Pinto

Jerry Pinto is an important figure in modern Indian writing. With a Goan Roman Catholic background, he offers a unique perspective on Indian life. This reflects in his writing.

  • Type of writer: Pinto has written poetry, short stories, novels, and journalistic articles. He is also a translator.
  • Notable work in Indian Writing: Em and the Big Hoom, Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb, Surviving Women
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, The Hindu Literary Award, Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, National Film Award for Best Book on Cinema

Abhishek Majumdar

Abhishek Majumdar is an Indian playwright. He is also a theatre director, and his plays have received international acclaim.

  • Type of writer: Playwright
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: The Djinns of Eidgah, Harlesden High Street, Pah-La
  • Notable awards: MetroPlus Playwriting award, Shankar Nag Theatre Award

Rochelle Potkar

Rochelle Potkar is a contemporary poet, writer, and actor. She has carved out a space for herself in the modern canon of Indian writers.

  • Type of writer: She writes fiction and poetry
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: The Arithmetic of Breasts and Other Stories, Paper Asylum
  • Notable Awards: Charles Wallace Writers’ fellow, Norton Girault Literary Prize

Namita Gokhale

Namita Gokhale is an established Indian author. She is also the co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

  • Type of writer: She has received widespread recognition for her novels, but has also written non fiction.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Things to Leave Behind, The Blind Matriarch
  • Notable awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, International Dublin Literary Award

Mahesh Dattani

An icon in Indian theatre, Mahesh Dattani is a writer, actor, and director. He was the first playwright to write in English and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award.

  • Type of Writer: Playwright, screenwriter
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Dance Like a Man, The Big Fat City
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award

Mani Rao

Mani Rao is a translator and a poet. Interested in Sanskrit literature, she translated the Bhagavad Gita in English verse, as well as the works of the poet Kalidasa. She received much recognition for her sensitive translation of both. She has also written ten collections of poetry.

  • Type of writer: Poet and translator
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Bhagavad Gita, Salt, Sing to Me
  • Notable Awards: Visiting fellow at Iowa International Writing Programme

Amrita Pritam

Amrita Pritam was an Indian novelist, essayist, and poet, who wrote in Punjabi and Hindi.

  • Type of writer: Fictionist and Essayist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Pinjar, Sunahade
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, Bharatiya Jnanpith, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan, and the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship

Premchand

Munshi Premchand was an Indian writer famous for his modern Hindustani literature. He was a pioneer of Hindi and Urdu social fiction

  • Type of writer: Fictionist and Essayist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Godaan, Gaban, Nirmala
  • Notable Awards: Premchand was commemorated with the issue of a special 30-paise postage stamp by India Post.

Krishna Sobti

Krishna Sobti was an Indian Hindi-language fiction writer and essayist.

  • Type of writer: Fictionist and Essayist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Zindaginama
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, Sahitya Akademi Fellowship and Jnanpith Award for her contribution to Indian literature.

Perumal Murugan

Perumal Murugan is an Indian author, scholar, and literary chronicler who writes in Tamil.

  • Type of writer: Fictionist, Short Story WRiter and Essayist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: One Part Woman, Current Show
  • Notable Awards: Originally written in Tamil under the name Madhorubagan and then later translated in English by Aniruddhan Vasudevan as One Part Woman. Aniruddhan Vasudevan was awarded Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize (2016). The book was also included in the longlist for the 2018 National Book Award in the “Translated Literature” category.

Aravind Adiga

Aravind Adiga shot to the limelight after the publication of his novel, ‘The White Tiger’. Before moving into fiction writing, Adiga worked as a journalist.

  • Type of writer: Novelist and journalist. He has also written short stories.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: The White Tiger
  • Notable Awards: Man Booker Prize

Shreekumar Verma

A versatile writer, Shreekumar Verma has written across genres. He was born in Kerala and spent much of his life in Tamil Nadu.

  • Type of Writer: Verma is a poet, playwright, newspaper columnist and novelist.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Lament of Mohini, Maria’s Room
  • Notable Awards: Charles Wallace Fellowship, R.K Narayan Award for Excellence in Writing

Shiv Krishna Kumar

Born in Lahore in undivided India in 1921, Shiv K. Kumar moved to Delhi after partition. He is best known for his poetry. It appears in such anthologies as ‘Ten Twentieth-Century Indian Poets’. He also wrote in other forms and has authored a large number of books.

  • Type of writer: Poet, novelist, playwrights, short story writer, translator, critic.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Trapfalls in the Sky, Subterfuges, Woolgathering
  • Notable Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award, Fellow of the Royal Society for Literature, Padma Bhushan
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Chetan Bhagat

A bestselling novelist, Chetan Bhagat is one of the most widely read Indian authors writing in English. He was included in Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010.

  • Type of writer: Primarily novelist although he has written in other forms, including a screenplay.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Half Girlfriend, Five Point Someone
  • Notable Awards: Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay, CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2014 (Entertainment category)

Anuja Chauhan

Anuja Chauhan is a bestselling author who got her start in the advertising world. She was the brain behind some of India’s most successful advertising programs. She quit advertising to become a full-time writer and has since published many successful books.

  • Type of writer: Novelist
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: The Zoya Factor, Those Pricey Thakur Girls
  • Notable Awards: Femina Women Achievers Award (Literary contribution), FICCI Ladies Organisation- Contribution to Literature

Preeti Shenoy

Preeti Shenoy is the author of more than twelve compelling books that have gained widespread recognition. She has been nominated for the Forbes 100 most influential celebrities in India multiple times.

  • Type of writer: Novelist, essayist, short story writer.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Life Is What You Make It, 34 Bubblegums and Candies
  • Notable Awards: Indian of the Year- Brands Academy, Business Excellence Award- New Delhi Management Institute.

Ashwin Sanghi

Ashwin Sanghi ranks among India’s highest-selling English fiction authors.

  • Type of writer: Novelist, essayist, short story writer.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key, The Sialkot Saga, Keepers of the Kalachakra and The Vault of Vishnu in the Bharat Series
  • Notable Awards: Crossword Popular Choice Award 2012, Atta Galatta Popular Choice Award 2018, WBR Iconic Achievers Award 2018 and the Lit-O-Fest Literature Legend Award 2018.

Anand Neelakantan

Anand Neelakantan is an Indian author, columnist, screenwriter, and public speaker. He is known for writing mythological fiction.

  • Type of writer: Mythological Fiction
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Asura and Ajaya
  • Notable Awards: Crossword Book Awards

Devdutt Pattnaik

Devdutt Pattnaik is an Indian mythologist, speaker, illustrator, and author, known for his writing on Hindu sacred lore, legends, folklore, fables, and parables. His work focuses largely on the areas of religion, mythology, and management.

  • Type of writer: Mythological Fiction and Nonfiction
  • Notable Works: Gita, Jaya

Anuja Chandramouli

Anuja Chandramouli is an Indian author of fantasy and historical fiction.

  • Type of writer: Novelist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Arjuna, Ganga, Karthikeya
  • Notable Awards: Indian of the Year- Brands Academy, Business Excellence Award- New Delhi Management Institute.

Neil D’Silva

With several bestselling books to his credit, Neil D’Silva is a known name in the Indian literary world.

  • Type of writer: Horror
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Maya’s New Husband, Yakshini

Shatrujeeth Nath

Shatrujeet Nath is the creator of the runaway national bestseller series Vikramaditya Veergatha, a four-book mytho-fantasy arc.

  • Type of writer: Fantasy Fiction
  • Notable Works: Karachi Deception, The Guardians of the Halahala, The Conspiracy at Meru, The Vengeance of Indra and The Wrath of the Hellfires.

Kanchana Banerjee

Kanchana Banerjee writes women-centric suspense thrillers.

  • Type of writer: Novelist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Nobody’s Child, A Forgotten Affair

Amish

Amish Tripathi, also known as Amish in the literary circles, popularised Indian mythology in his ‘Shiva Trilogy’ and the ‘Ram Chandra Series’. The Shiva Trilogy became the fast-selling book series in the history of Indian publishing.

  • Type of writer: Novelist
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: The Shiva Trilogy, Ram Chandra series.
  • Notable Awards: Golden Book Award, Hello Hall of Fame Award, Kalinga International Literary Award.

Durjoy Datta

Durjoy Datta is a well-known novelist and screenwriter. His books are widely read and mostly deal with romantic relationships in modern India.

  • Type of writer: Novelist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: The Girl of My Dreams, The Perfect Us
  • Notable Awards: Crossword Book Award- Popular Choice Award, 2009 The Times of India’s ‘Young Achiever’

Advaita Kala

Advaita Kala is a popular Indian writer. Her novels are widely read and her screenplays have enjoyed box office success.

  • Type of writer: Novelist, screenwriter
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Almost Single, Kahaani
  • Notable Awards: Screen Award for Best Story, Star Guild Award for Best Story

Nikita Singh

Nikita Singh is an Indian Writer who predominantly writes romance novels.

  • Type of writer: Novelist – Romance Writer
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: The Reason is You, Every Time It Rains, Like a Love Song, The Promise, and After All This Time.
  • Notable Awards: Nominated for a First International Young Author Award (2018)

Sachin Garg

Sachin Garg is an Indian bestselling novelist, a first-generation entrepreneur, publisher, and speaker, best known for his semi-autobiographical chronicles.

  • Type of writer: Novelist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Never Let Me Go, It’s First Love, Just Like The Last One, I’m Not Twenty Four, I Have Been Nineteen For Five Years, Come on- inner peace…I don’t have all day.

Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral is an Indian author based in Mumbai

  • Type of writer: Novelist, essayist and short story writer.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: The Reluctant Detective, Karmic Kids, Missing, Presumed Dead
  • Notable Awards: Long listed for the Saboteur Awards UK,

Anita Nair

Anita Nair is an Indian novelist who writes her books in English-language.

  • Type of writer: Novelist, essayist, short story writer.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Lessons in Forgetting, Ladies Coupe, Mistress.
  • Notable Awards: Arch of Excellence Award by the All India Achievers’ Conference, New Delhi for Literature, iBeraturpreis, finalist, Germany, FLO FICCI Women Achievers Award, for literature, Montblanc honored her with the launch of the Special Edition writing instrument in India; for her novel contribution to literature, enforcing cross cultural endeavors and enlightening experiences that have transcended an inexhaustible diversity of forms – barriers of language, cultures and identities, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for her contribution to literature and culture, The Hindu Literary Prize shortlist, Global Ambassador for Women for Expo, Crossword Book Award, Jury Award, Children’s category.

Madhuri Banerjee

Madhuri Banerjee is an Indian author, columnist, and screenwriter.

  • Type of writer: Novelist, essayist and short story writer.
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Losing my Virginty and Other Dumb Ideas

Hussain Zaidi

S. Hussain Zaidi is an Indian author and former investigative journalist.

  • Type of writer: Novelist and Crime Fiction Writer
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Dongri to Dubai, Mafia Queens of Mumbai

Ravinder Singh

Ravinder Singh is an Indian software engineer and author of nine novels.

  • Type of writer: Romance Writer
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: I too had a love story

Twinkle Khanna

A former film actress of Bollywood fame, Twinkle Khanna has also made her mark on the bestsellers list with her books.

  • Type of writer: Generally writes comedic nonfiction and fiction.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Mrs. Funnybones
  • Notable awards: Crossword Popular Non-Fiction Award, India Today Woman Writer of the Year
Indian Writing

Authors of Indian Origin (Based in other countries)

Vish Dhamija

Vish Dhamija is a British Indian crime-fiction writer.

  • Type of writer: Novelist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Nothing Lasts Forever
  • Awards: Long-listed for “Vodafone-Crossword Book Award”

Meena Alexander

Meena Alexander was born in India but spent most of her childhood in Sudan. She did her Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham. She then lived in India for some time, before marrying an American and moving to New York.

  • Type of writer: Poet, novelist, essayist, researcher. She has also written memoirs.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Fault Lines, Illiterate Heart
  • Notable Awards: PEN Open Book Award, 2009 Distinguished Achievement Award from the South Asian Literary Association for contributions to American Literature.

Lakshmi Holmström

Lakshmi Holmström was a British Indian author and translator. She was born and raised in India but shifted to Britain after finishing her undergraduate course.

  • Type of writer: She translated Tamil fiction to English. She was also a writer in her own right, as well as a literary critic.
  • Notable works: In a Forest, A Deer
  • Notable awards: Crossword Book Award, appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an Indian-American author and poet.

  • Type of writer: Novelist and Poet
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: The Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, Queen of Dreams, One Amazing Thing, Palace of Illusions, Oleander Girl and Before We Visit the Goddess.
  • Notable Awards: Bluebonnet Award, Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, Booklist Editor’s Choice, Pacific Northwest Young Reader’s Choice Award Master List and the Rebecca Caudill Award Master List.

Salman Rushdie

One of the most controversial figures in modern Indian literature, Salman Rushdie is a British American novelist. In 1989, a fatwa (order to kill) was issued against him, and he was placed under the protection of the British police.

  • Type of writer: Known primarily as a novelist, although he has also written children’s fiction and nonfiction.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Midnight’s Children, Haroun and the Sea of Stories
  • Notable awards: Knighthood, Golden PEN Award, Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Cultural Humanism (Harvard University)

Rohinton Mistry

Rohinton Mistry is a Canadian author born in India. His novels are set in India, explored sensitively from a Parsi perspective.

  • Type of writer: Novelist
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: Such a Long Journey, Family Matters, A Fine Balance
  • Notable awards: Commonwealth Writers Prize, Trillium Award, Neustadt International Prize for Literature

Avni Doshi

Avni Doshi is an American novelist currently based in Dubai. She was born in New Jersey to immigrants from India. 

  • Type of writer: Novelist
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: Burnt Sugar, Girl in White Cotton
  • Notable Awards: Shortlisted for Booker Prize – 2020

William Darlymple

William Dalrymple is a Scottish historian, art historian, and curator, as well as a broadcaster, critic, and photographer. He is also one of the co-founders and co-directors of the world’s largest writers festival, the annual Jaipur Literature Festival.

  • Type of writer: History Writer
  • Notable Works in Indian Writing: The Anarchy, City of Djinns
  • Notable Awards: Wolfson Prize for History, the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, the Hemingway, the Kapuściński, the Arthur Ross Medal of the US Council on Foreign Relations, the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. Five times longlisted and once shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction. Finalist for the Cundill Prize for History.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri is the award-winning author of several novels. She is an Indian American and writes in English and Italian.

  • Type of writer: Known for her novels, though she also writes poetry and nonfiction.
  • Notable works in Indian Writing: The Lowland, The Interpreter of Maladies
  • Notable awards: Pulitzer Prize, Asian American Literary Award, National Humanities Medal

Conclusion

Indian writing in English is a rich tradition with a history. Different writers have contributed to its cannon over the centuries in their own way. Like in any other pursuit and tradition, there are problems in the world of Indian writing in English.

Perhaps the most pertinent is that, at the end of the day, there is only a minuscule minority of the population that reads and writes in English. While this in itself is not a problem, it can mean a lack of active engagement with contemporaries on the part of the writers. It can also mean not enough feedback and communication between the writers and their readers, or indeed, constructively critical feedback.

This is now changing, and we hope to see an even more robust literary community for Indian writing in English. As for you dear reader,  start with whichever genre interests you more, and pick up a book!

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