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Most important Indian writers ( exclusively for NTA UGC NET English aspirants) Based on NEW SYLLABUS



India has one of the most complex literary histories in the world, with 22 officially recognised languages and a written literature history spanning over 3,000 years. To help you navigate this confusing literary culture, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best modern Indian writers whose work have defined Indian-English literature. The writers that we have included in the list are not necessarily Indian English writers but also some that have an understanding of the Indian thought. These writers have been able to form a reputable name in modern Indian-English literature through their works that have left a long-lasting impression not only on Indian readers but foreigners as well. So without further ado let’s begin our discussion on these writers and some of their most impressionable works:


  1. Born in Peshawar Mulk Raj Anand is an Indian Writer who feeds the poorer castes in traditional Indian society through his writings. He was also one of the first Indian writers to attain international reading and fame in English. His writing style was realistic fiction. Mulk Ji is recognised across the world for his literary works, which have achieved the status of modern Indian English literature masterpieces and provide a glimpse into the lives of the oppressed while depicting the genuine reality of poverty, injustice, and despair. His debut and most acclaimed work, ‘Untouchable,’ exposed the ugly underbelly of India’s untouchable caste system. The work is skilfully written in English combining Hindi and Punjabi idioms. This attempt caught vernacular ingenuity and established him as India’s Charles Dickens. “Coolie,” his second novel, explores the condition of India’s underprivileged through the use of the narrative of a 15-year-old kid locked in slavery as a child labourer and dying of tuberculosis. He maintained his massive literary output, which included poetry, essays on a variety of themes, autobiographies, novels, and short stories. Among his books, The Village, Across the Black Waters, and The Sword and the Sickle were written in England, whereas Coolie, The Private Life of an Indian Prince, and The Road were most likely his most notable works written in India. Mulk Raj Anand got the Sahitya Akademy Award for ‘Morning Face’ for one of the seven parts of his book Seven Summers.
  2. K. Narayan is most known for his fictional writings; however he did not begin his writing career with a work of fiction. His first article was a book review on the Development of Maritime Laws in 17th-Century England. Later, he worked as a short story writer for a local newspaper. Along with writing for local newspapers and magazines, Narayan began work on his first novel “Swami and Friends,” which he finished in 1930. R.K. Narayan then sent the work to many periodicals, but it was rejected by all of them. The story is the account of Swaminathan’s unstable connection with four childhood friends and a new boy named Rajam. It takes place in 1930 in British-colonial India. Disobedience, conflict, control, authority, power, revolt, and independence are all discussed by Narayan. The Bachelor of Arts  and The Dark Room  were Narayan’s next two works  that were  well received by critics but did not sell well. Furthermore, these two works, together with “Swami and Friends,” are thought to be part of a trilogy based on a shared topic. The Dark Room, The English Teacher , Mr. Sampath, The Financial Expert, The Guide , The Man Eater of Malgudi , The Vendor of Sweets, The Painter of Signs, A Tiger for Malgudi , and Talkative Man are among the others notable works. He has also published five collections of short tales, including Malgudi Days, as well as several articles, reflections on Indian epics, and a memoir, My Days.
  3. Salman Rushdie‘s literary style can be described as a blend of ‘magical realism’ and historical fiction. His stories are set on the Indian Subcontinent and generally deal with migrations to and from the East and West, as well as the incidents that occur in between. His novel ‘The Midnight Children’ was awarded the Booker Prize. The story depicts the longing for distinctiveness or purity—whether of religion or culture—as a breeding ground for not just bigotry but also violence and tyranny. Queen Elizabeth made him a Knight Bachelor in 2007 for his significant contribution to English literature. Rushdie’s most controversial work, ‘The Satanic Verses,’ transformed his life into a nightmare. The plot of the novel is based on Quranic verses that were removed because they were about a period in the Prophet’s life that Muslims found distasteful. The Muslim world was outraged, and a ‘fatwa,’ or ‘death sentence,’ for Rushdie. Rushdie went into hiding when the main bookselling companies withdrew his book from their stores. There were book burnings all across the world to protest the book that had so terribly offended Muslims. Those who openly took Rushdie’s cause were slain, and Rushdie afterwards became the subject of numerous jokes. Salman Rushdie is the author of thirteen novels, including Grimus, Midnight’s Children (which won the Booker Prize in 1981), Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown, The Enchantress of Florence, Luka and the Fire of Life, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, The Golden House, He adopts the name Quichotte and begins writing her letters in which he introduces himself and explains his purpose.
  4. Anita Desai, born Anita Mazumdar on June 24, 1937 in Mussoorie, India, was an English-language Indian writer and children’s book author who excelled in evoking character and mood with visual pictures ranging from meteorological to botanical. Desai, who was born in Germany to a German mother and a Bengali father, grew up speaking German, Hindi, and English. In 1957, she earned a B.A. in English from the University of Delhi. Her debut novel, Cry, the Peacock, and a subsequent novel, Where Shall We Go This Summer?, both dealt with the suppression and persecution of Indian women . Fire on the Mountain was panned for concentrating too heavily on images at the detriment of storyline and character, but it was lauded for its poetic symbolism and use of music. Fire on the Mountain  was panned for leaning too heavily on images at the cost of storyline and character development, but it was lauded for its poetic symbolism and use of sound. The author’s most popular book, Clear Light of Day , is hailed for its extraordinarily vivid depiction of two sisters caught up in the lassitude of Indian existence. Its personalities are revealed via gesture, discourse, and thought, as well as visuals. The novel, like the most of her writings, portrays Desai’s basically melancholy vision of life. Bombay by Baumgartner examines German and Jewish identity in the backdrop of a chaotic modern India.
  5. Agha Shahid Ali was born in Delhi, raised in Kashmir, and eventually immigrated to the United States. He was one of the most prominent English-language poets to come from twentieth-century India. The Kashmiri poet who later moved to the United States is credited with popularizing the Ghazal style in American poetry. In ‘In Memory of Begum Akhtar’ and ‘The Country Without a Post Office’, both written with the Kashmir war as a backdrop, Ali emphasised his love and care for his people. He translated Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz selected poems.  He also compiled the Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English. Call Me Ishmael Tonight, a collection of English ghazals, was his most recent book, and his poetry have appeared in American Alphabets: 25 Contemporary Poets (2006) and other anthologies
  6. Arundhati Roy is a novelist and political activist of India. She has also been associated with the anti-globalization movement and has been a critic of neo-imperialism. She has also written several nonfiction books, including The Cost of Living, a scathing critique of the Indian government’s handling of the contentious Narmada Valley dam project and its nuclear testing programme; Power Politics, a collection of essays; and The Algebra of Infinite Justice, a collection of journalism. Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy is her second book of articles exposing the dark side of democracy in modern India. Her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, is her most recent release. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in the United States.
  7. Khushwant Singh, well-known Indian writer, journalist, lawyer, and politician wrote one of the most important works of twentieth-century Indian literature, Train to Pakistan (1956). This historical fiction remembers India’s division in August 1947, with an emphasis on the human toll that few other stories have achieved. I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale (1959), Truth, Love, and a Little Malice (2002), Delhi: A Novel (1990), and The Company of Women are among Singh’s other well-known and critically appreciated works (1999).
  8. Vikram Seth, novelist and poet from Kolkata has written numerous works, including the well-known A Suitable Boy (1993). This book is one of the longest books ever published in a single volume in the English language, clocking in at 1,349 pages and 591,552 words. The story delves into post-independence national and political challenges. There is no one tale in the book. Seth depicts the society’s worries in partitioned India, which range from Hindu-Muslim tensions to academic issues, intra-family ties, and land reforms. His poetry works include The Humble Administrator’s Garden (1985), Beastly Tales (1991), and Mappings (1993). (1980). In 1999, Seth released Equal Music, which is regarded as one of his masterpieces. The novel is a testament to his musical proclivity, in which he depicts a heart-breaking narrative of a violinist bereaved by the loss of a previous lover. The book’s emotional intensity and musical understanding exhibit Seth’s creative skills at their peak.
  9. Amitav Ghosh began his professional career as a teacher before going on a path as a writer . With The Circle of Reason, Ghosh made his writing debut (1986). The tale centers on a major man who is accused of terrorism and travels to Africa. It is classified as postcolonial and postmodern literature due to its consideration of colonial elements and the novel’s intertextual character, respectively. Ghosh’s other well-known book is The Shadow Lines (1988), which deals with the aftermath of the British colonial forces’ withdrawal from India. Ghosh published another historical fiction, The Glass Palace, in 2000. This is a complicated work of fiction set in several locations and eras. The novel delves into current themes such as economic developments, national constitutions, and the influence of modernism on society. Sea of Poppies (2008) is the first book in the Ibis trilogy. The narrative takes place in the 1830s, before the Opium War. It summarises Southeast Asia’s colonial period. River of Smoke is the title of the second volume in the trilogy that was just published (2011). Ghosh, in addition to creating historical fiction, has dabbled in science fiction. His debut science fiction novel, The Calcutta Chromosome, was released in 1995. Sir Ronald Ross is regarded as the book’s inspiration. This future-set medical thriller centres on a group of people who are linked together by a similar thread of events. In an Antique Land (1992) is a Ghosh’s experimental work that blends a number of genres such as autobiographical writing, fictional and non-fictional writing. His contributions to nonfiction include Incendiary Circumstances, Dancing in Cambodia, and The Imam and the Indian.
  10.  Aravind Adiga was born in India in 1974 and received his education in both India and Australia. He received his M.Phil. from Magdalen College, Oxford, after studying English Literature at Columbia University in New York. He has been a journalist since 2000, initially as a finance correspondent in New York before returning to India in 2003 to serve as a correspondent for TIME magazine. Many magazines have published his pieces on politics, business, and the arts. His first novel, The White Tiger, was released in 2008 and won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in the same year. It takes the shape of a series of unsent letters from Balram Halwai, a killer who fled his hometown to work as a driver in Delhi. Between the Killings (2009) is his second novel, and it follows the lives of the people of an Indian town over a seven-year period between the assassinations of Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv. It was nominated for the John Llewellyn-Rhys Memorial Prize in 2009. Last Man in Tower is his most recent work (2011).

Vineet Pandey

2 JRF,8 NET, and 17 SET

(Ex Asst. Professor of the University of Delhi)

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