23 Best Books Set in India

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Are you looking for great books set in India to read?

Here are some of the best books that take place in India to take you there!

India is a country that is on my bucket list. I would love to see the pink city of Jaipur, admire the majestic Taj Mahal, hit the beach in Goa, and take in the chaos of a big city like Delhi.

But until I can actually get there, reading books set in India is the next best thing.

Below you’ll find a collection of fiction and nonfiction books, spanning many different genres and time periods. These are the best books set in India, primarily written by Indian authors.

Here are the best India books to add to your reading list.

Bungalows Palolem beach Goa

Grab these fantastic books set in India here:

Novels and Fiction Set in India

the god of small things

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This Man Booker Prize-winning novel tells the story of an affluent Indian family whose lives are forever changed by one fateful day in 1969.

It’s a powerful family saga, forbidden love story, and piercing political drama all in one. Told with lush, lyrical writing, this book is hard to forget.

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a burning

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

This book is at once a thriller and a compassionate social commentary. It follows three strangers each seeking something different: a rise to the middle class, obtaining political power, and becoming famous. They find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in India.

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the world we found

The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar

As university students in the late 1970s Bombay, Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta were inseparable. As life went on, they drifted apart until a tragedy brings them back together.

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A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

A sweeping panoramic portrait of a complex, multiethnic society in flux, A Suitable Boy tells the story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love, ambition, humor, sadness, prejudice, reconciliation, the most delicate social etiquette, and the most appalling violence.

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Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees from a maximum-security prison in Australia and escapes the teeming streets of Bombay, India where he can disappear.

What follows is a rich and vivid portrayal of Bombay’s seedy underworld.

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the lowland

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

This novel set in India is an engrossing family saga steeped in history: the story of two very different brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn apart by revolution, and a love that endures long past death.

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the white tiger

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture in Bangalore.

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Midnights Children

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence.

Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence.

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A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Set in India in 1975, this book examines the hardships of poverty in India and the prejudice and inequities of the caste system with brutal grit and eloquence.

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A Passage to India

A Passage to India by E. M. Forester

This classic novel examines the clash of culture in British India during the burgeoning independence movement of India in the 1920s. It highlights colonialism at its worst.

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The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas, an embittered old judge wants only to retire in peace. But his life is upended when his sixteen-year-old orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep and throws his life into chaos.

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the henna artist

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

This historical fiction novel is set in India in the 1950s and follows a teenager escaping from an abusive arranged marriage to the pink city of Jaipur.

There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist and confidante to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own, even as her past catches up with her.

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sea of poppies

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

This historical fiction novel is set in the 1800s before the First Opium War and follows a cast of characters traveling by ship from Calcutta to Mauritius.

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The Namesake

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

This novel is about a family moving from India to the United States, and the struggles they face as they try to embrace American life even as they pine for home.

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The Palace of Illusions

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

In this vibrant retelling of an ancient epic saga, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni gives voice to Panchaali, the fire-born heroine of the Mahabharata, and brings this fabled story to life.

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the unlikely adventures of the shergill sisters

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

The British-born Punjabi Shergill sisters were never close and barely got along growing up, and now as adults, have grown even further apart. However, their mother’s dying wish requires them to make a pilgrimage together to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to carry out her final rites.

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the far pavilions

The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye

This sweeping epic set in 19th-century India begins in the foothills of the towering Himalayas and follows a young Indian-born orphan as he’s raised in England and later returns to India where he falls in love with an Indian princess and struggles with cultural divides.

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Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

This Man Booker Prize-winning novel is a fantastical story about a teenage boy lost at sea after the cargo ship carrying his family from India to the United States capsizes. The son of a zookeeper, the boy is the sole human survivor, along with several animals in transit with him.

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the storytellers secret

The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani

An epic story of the unrelenting force of love, the power of healing, and the invincible desire to dream.

Nothing prepares Jaya, a New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family’s past.

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murder in old bombay

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March

If you are looking for a crime novel set in India, this is a good one to pick up. It’s set in Bombay in 1892 and follows a military captain investigating the murder of two women. While it was ruled a suicide, the captain is not so sure and is determined to get to the bottom of it.

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Nonfiction Books About India

Eat Pray Love

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

While only partly set in India, this memoir follows an American woman who goes on a journey of self-discovery around the world after getting divorced.

She travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia. During her months in India (the “pray” portion of the title) she practices intense meditation.

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city of djinns

City of Djinns by William Dalrymple

If you are looking for a nonfiction historical book about India, this is a good one to check out. It chronicles Delhi’s history through the ages in an engaging way.

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behind the beautiful forevers

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

This nonfiction book offers a raw and heartbreaking glimpse into poverty in modern India. This is a book that will leave a lasting impression on you.

It encapsulates a bewildering age of global change and inequality through the stories of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport.

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Best Books Set in India

These are some of the best books set in India.

Have you read any of these books set in India? Do you have any favorite books set in India that I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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Where next?

Start with this list of the very best travel adventure books. It includes great reads that will fuel your wanderlust and have you staying up late to finish them.

You should also check out the following series of book lists set in Asia:

Best books set in Japan

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