This post on Indian writers by Moppet's Mom is the raison d'etre for my post. We're all linked :).
I've always loved books though I have to admit I haven't read as many or as widely as I would have liked to. Living with my grandparents meant that the definition of books was purely 'textbooks'. Anything with a picture on it's cover would immediately get confiscated or if I managed to avoid that it was a long lecture on the evil effects of fiction. As with anything which is prohibited, my fascination with fiction only grew and my creativity with finding ways of reading. Whether it was under the duvet with a torch (yes it's true) or on the toilet seat pretending to be constipated (in fact for years my grandparents thought I had severe problems with you know getting it out :)). I also love buying books and I have loads on my book shelf that are unread but that I couldn't resist buying!
My problem with books is what happens to me when I read them. I get so engrossed in the characters and the situation that I walk around in semi alertness. My mind is always on the book and it doesn't get better until I finish it. As a result, if it's a particularly good book it means I am absolutely lousy company. I don't want to talk to anyone or see anyone. In fact one of my very dear friends who is now a mother of twins used to complain often that I turned deaf when I was reading :). In my dream house I want to have a library with shelves stocked with my favourite books. At the moment I make do with a small shelf but it's time to get another one!
The thing I love about book tags it gives you loads of suggestions for good books. The one thing I hate the most is to pick up a book and find it not worth my time. I only want to read what's good and leave the rest for another life. There's nothing more satisfying than knowing that the book in your hands is going to give you so much pleasure... sigh.
Coming to the subject of the tag, I discovered Indian writing in the main after I left school. But my earliest memories of Ruskin Bond are the short stories that used to appear in our English textbooks. His stories were always simple and easy to read and the ones I used to read first from the list. I remember I was so happy when I found out that he was Indian through my English teacher (his name didn't give any clues to this schoolgirl). Since then a Rakhi gift meant that I have his collection of short stories which I pick every now and then when I crave something simple yet beautiful.
One of my favourite Indian writers is Rohinton Mistry. I first discovered him with 'Tales from Firozsha Baag' which was another Rakhi present. This led me to 'A Fine Balance' which I have been recommending to all and sundry. I love this book because I think it shows so well the different ways people approach life. You can either choose to take each bad thing that happens to you and decide that life is miserable or take all your misfortunes alongwith you on the journey of life and still live it up with a smile on your face and with optimism in your heart. Absolutely wonderful. A friend of mine thought that the ending was depressing but each to his own.
Vikram Seth was an author who always fascinated me when I was in college. I read 'A Suitable Boy' and immediately needed to read his next 'An Equal Music'. I remember saving my pocket money to buy it at the princely sum of Rs 500+. Though for the life of me I can't remember the exact storyline unless I refer to Wikipedia so I think I need to re-read both.
Amitava Ghosh is another writer that I enjoy reading. I picked up The Glass Palace on a whim when it first came out and absolutely loved it. And I've just finished 'The Hungry Tide' which I liked for its unusual setting in the Sunderbans. I'm glad there are others that I still haven't read.
The list can't be complete without R K Narayan and Swami and friends. There's nothing I can say which would do it justice. Simply wonderful at any age. It was the television adaptation that led me to the book, I can only be thankful to Doordarshan.
And I am going to be brave and say that Arundhati Roy's 'The God of Small Things' left me unimpressed (yes I know it won the Booker). Maybe I had built up unreasonable expectations which prevented me from enjoying it as much.
I also enjoyed Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Interpreter of Maladies' which is a wonderful collection of short stories (I like the book cover too). I can't say the same for 'The Namesake' which left me cold. It's now been brought to life on screen by Mira Nair to critical acclaim though I haven't watched it myself.
I just remembered that my brother and I also used to read Khushwant Singh on the train journey from Lucknow to Delhi and back. For some reason his books were always available at the train station bookshops. And my all time favourite, though it probably doesn't qualify under writing, 'Chacha Chowdhry' - the best comic series according to me. I simply love these and they were staple train diet
Now it's taken me 4 days to write this so I will sign off and save the rest for later.