Recommended India Novels


  • Farrell, J.G.  The Siege of Krishnapur, 1973. An excellent adventure of Britishers during the Rebellion of 1857.


  • Kay, M.M., Shadow of the Moon, 1979. A Good historical romance/adventure set in the 1857 Rebellion. Main characters are British.


  • Kay, M.M., The Far Pavilions, 1979. A lengthy but generally good historical romance and adventure, set in the 1800s, taking place partly in a fictional state in Rajasthan.  Main characters are British.


  • Malgonkar, Manohar, The Princes, 1963. Excellent novel of the last days of an Indian kingdom just before and at the time of Independence, from the perspective of a young heir to the throne.


  • Masters, John, Bhowani Junction, 1954. Excellent novel of conflicts between Britishers and Indians in the setting of Indian railways in the 1940s. Made into a movie.


  • Masters, John, Nightrunners of Bengal, 1951. Well written adventure of the 1857 Rebellion. Main characters are British.


  • Worthington, Gary, India Treasures, 2001, 2012 (also published by Penguin in India as The Mangarh Chronicles), and India Fortunes, 2003. Hopefully I can be forgiven for including my own historical novels. They’re unique in giving a fairly comprehensive overview of the evolution of Indian history and culture, and I think they’re good stories (fortunately many reviewers agree).


OTHER RECOMMENDED NOVELS OF INDIA (Not classified by me as “Historical” novels as they are set in the approximate time in which the author wrote them, though the action does take place some years ago.)



  • Desai, Anita, In Custody, 1984. Entertaining accounts of a young Indian college lecturer and his continually frustrated efforts to improve his lot in life.



  • Forster, E.M., A Passage to India, 1924. Classic novel of interactions between British and natives; inspiration for the fine movie.



  • Hariharan, Gita, In Times of Siege, 2003. A history professor in Delhi has his calm world torn awry when religious fundamentalists seize upon his scholarly interpretations of a medieval poet saint’s life, twisting and sensationalizing the work to further their own aims. The author deals with the theme of extremism deftly and with an impressive depth of understanding, not only of human nature, but of ancient and modern Indian history.


  • Mehta, Gita, A River Sutra, 1993. Spiritual quest in modern India, reminiscent of Hermann Hesse’s Siddartha.


  • Mistry, Rohinton, A Fine Balance, 1995. A big novel about four ordinary but different Indians, taking place mainly during the mid-1970s and Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. An Oprah Winfrey selection.


  • Seth, Vikram, A Suitable Boy, 1993. A giant novel of the efforts to find a marriage partner for a young Indian woman, with great insights into extended family life.


  • Tharoor, Shashi, Riot, 2001. An excellent novel of a modern day Hindu-Muslim conflict, partly from the perspective of an Indian official who has to cope with the problem.