What are the top 10 non-fiction books about India everybody must read?

By Sunil Kumar

In no particular order; here are some non-fictional books about India that made an impact somewhat personally.

Around India in 80 Trains – Monisha Rajesh: Liked the descriptions in this book, the train rides and different facets of Indian life described vividly.

മലയാളം: ഡെൽഹിയിൽ സ്ഥിതി ചെയ്യുന്ന ഇന്ത്യാഗേറ്റ...

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India A Million Mutinies Now – V.S Naipaul: Naipaul is a long-drawn read, cumbersome at times; but engaging.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux: Naipaul and Theroux had a famous breaking up regarding his Pakistani wife; but the American was still a fanboy of Naipaul as was evident in his biography of Naipaul. I liked the Great Railway Bazaar because it gave me a glimpse into all the countries on the hippy trail(including India) in the 70s. Theroux’s opinions are coloured by his biases; but his ample literary references and creative vista creation was fun reading.

Maximum City by Suketu Mehta: This book is a deep dive into Mumbai; its passions; the underworld and glamour. Mehta’s descriptions were interesting as he grew up in this city like me; but also are informative about the 80s and 90s.

India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha: This is a veritable encyclopedia of history. Although Guha’s opinions are subjective and some of his recent pronouncements obnoxious; the level of detail and descriptive style were interesting personally.

Durbar by Tavleen Singh: Another one on the politicking in the Lutyens Zone. Tavleen belongs to a privileged set; and so gives her perspective from both sides of the divide; the people in power and when she fell out of favour; as a normal journalista.

Byline- MJ Akbar: Liked his accounts of his career and travels.

One Life Is Not Enough: Natwar Singh’s bombastic style and ego is very much evident; but still liked his insights into the many decades of Congress rule; his equation with Nehru, Indira etc.

The Accidental Prime Minister by Sanjaya Baru: As a famous former editor; Manmohan Singh hired Baru for managing his PR spin. A tell-all account by him exposes nearly every scam caused by the Delhi political cabal; and Singh’s helplessness or complicity depending on the meaning you ascribe to Baru’s words.

Lucknow Boy: Vinod Mehta’s funny, acerbic and partly insightful account of his life and the Indian media scene.

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