Indian Magical Realism Writing

Find magic in the mundane with these magical realism stories from India
The Moor's Last Sigh
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The Moor's Last Sigh

by Salman Rushdie

About the book:  Time Magazine's Best Book of the YearBooker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie combines a ferociously witty family saga with a surreally imagined and sometimes blasphemous chronicle of modern India and flavors the mixture with peppery soliloquies on art, ethnicity, religious fanaticism, and the terrifying power of love. Moraes "Moor" Zogoiby, the last surviving scion of a dynasty of Cochinese spice merchants and crime lords, is also a compulsive storyteller and an exile. As he travels a route that takes him from India to Spain, he leaves behind a tale of mad passions and volcanic family hatreds, of titanic matriarchs and their mesmerized offspring, of premature deaths and curses that strike beyond the grave.

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Midnight's Children
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Midnight's Children

by Salman Rushdie

About the book:  Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time Winner of the Booker of Bookers 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. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts. This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.

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The Essence of Camphor
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The Essence of Camphor

by Naiyer Masud

About the book:  This collection of Naiyer Masud's fiction transports the reader to the magic realm of a glass wharf and the shades and sorrows of a community of wastelanders. From the visceral immediacy of filial bonds to the ineffable intricacy of haunting memories, Masud's fictional world is a moving experience.

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Red Earth and Pouring Rain
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Red Earth and Pouring Rain

by Vikram Chandra

About the book:  The gods of poetry and death descend on a house in India to vie for the soul of a wounded monkey. A bargain is struck: the monkey must tell a story, and if he can keep his audience entertained, he shall live. The result is Red Earth and Pouring Rain, Vikram Chandra's astonishing, vibrant novel. Interweaving tales of nineteenth-century India with modern America, it stands in the tradition of The Thousand and One Nights, a work of vivid imagination and a celebration of the power of storytelling itself. 'A dazzling first novel written with such originality and intensity as to be not merely drawing on myth but making it.' Sunday Times

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Sacred Games
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Sacred Games

by Vikram Chandra

About the book:  An enormously satisfying, exciting and enriching book, Vikram Chandra's novel draws the reader deep into the lives of detective Sartaj Singh and Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted gangster in India. Sartaj, the only Sikh inspector in the whole of Mumbai, is used to being identified by his turban, beard and the sharp cut of his trousers. But 'the silky Sikh' is now past forty, his marriage is over and his career prospects are on the slide. When Sartaj gets an anonymous tip off as to the secret hideout of the legendary boss of the G-company, he's determined that he'll be the one to collect the prize. This is a sprawling, epic novel of friendships and betrayals, of terrible violence, of an astonishing modern city and its underworld. Drawing on the best of Victorian fiction, mystery novels, Bollywood movies and Vikram Chandra's years of first hand research on the streets of Mumbai, this novel reads like a potboiling page-turner but resonates with the intelligence and emotional depth of the best of literature.

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The Ground Beneath Her Feet
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The Ground Beneath Her Feet

by Salman Rushdie

About the book:  On Valentine’s Day, 1989, Vina Apsara, a famous and much-loved singer, disappears in a devastating earthquake. Her lover, the singer Ormus Cama, cannot accept that he has lost her, and so begins his eternal quest to find her and bring her back. His journey takes him across the globe and through cities pulsating with the power of rock ’n’ roll, to Bombay, London and New York. But around the star-crossed lover and his quest, the uncertain world itself is beginning to tremble and break. Cracks and tears are appearing in the very fabric of reality, and exposing the abyss beyond. And Ormus has to confront just how far he is willing to go for love.

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The Mistress Of Spices
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The Mistress Of Spices

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

About the book:  Tilo, an immigrant from India, runs an Indian spice shop in Oakland, California. While she dispenses the classic ingredients for curries and kormas, she also helps her customers to gain a more precious commodity: whatever they most desire. For Tilo is a Mistress of Spices, a priestess of the secret, magical powers of spices. Through those who visit and revisit her shop - Ahuja's wife, caught in an unhappy, abusive marriage; Jagjit, the victim of racist attacks at school; the noisy bougainvillaea girls, rejecting the strict upbringing of their tradition-bound Indian parents; Haroun who drives a taxi and dreams the American dream - we get a glimpse into the life of the local Indian expatriate community. To each Tilo dispenses wisdom and the appropriate spice: coriander for sight; turmeric to erase wrinkles; cinnamon for finding friends; fenugreek to make a rejected wife desirable again; chillies for the cleansing of evil. But when a lonely American comes into the store, a troubled Tilo cannot find the right spice, for he arouses in her a forbidden desire, and following her own desires will destroy her magical powers. Compelling and lyrical, full of heady scents and with more than a touch of humour, this novel explores the clash between East and West even as it unveils the universal mysteries of the human heart.

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The Cripple And His Talismans
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The Cripple And His Talismans

by Anosh Irani

About the book:  'A highly imaginative novel, full of humour, poetry and insights, written in a beautiful, sparse style' -Yann Martel Prepare to enter a world where the norms of human behaviour and morality - even the rules governing time and gravity - are turned upside down. Set in the teeming city of contemporary Bombay, this comic and vibrant tale begins with a young man in search of his missing arm. Each person he meets offers him a clue: a woman who sells rainbows; a coffin maker who builds tiny caskets; a giant who lives under water - all lead him to Baba Rakhu, the master of the underworld and the only one who can reveal the meaning of his predicament. With humour and ingenuity, Anosh Irani has crafted a bold story that is as much about loss as it is about the presence of faith in a world that can be as cruel as it can be forgiving.

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She Will Build Him a City
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She Will Build Him a City

by Raj Kamal Jha

About the book:  SHORTLISTED FOR THE DSC PRIZE FOR SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE As night falls in Delhi a mother spins tales from her past for her sleeping daughter. Her now grown-up child is a puzzle with a million pieces whom she hopes, through her words and her love, to somehow make whole again. Meanwhile, as the last train from Rajiv Chowk Station pulls away, a young man rides the metro and dreams of murder. In another corner of the city, a newborn wrapped in a blood-red towel lies on the steps of an orphanage as his mother walks away. There are twenty million bodies in this city and this woman, man and child are only three. But their stories – of a secret love that blossoms in the shadows of grief, of a corrosive guilt that taints the soul, and of an orphaned boy who maps out his own destiny – weave in and out of the lives of those around them to form a dazzling kaleidoscope of a novel. Beautiful, beguiling and audacious, this is the story of a city and its people, of love and horror, of belonging and forgiveness: a powerful and unforgettable tale of modern India.

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The Occult
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The Occult

by Colin Wilson

About the book:  of The Occult have no discernible plots, their terrains are unidentifiable, the characters that inhabit them have no names. Houses possess domains where you are overcome with fear or desire without knowing why. A lone dark cloud that brings sudden rain traverses the interpenetrating landscape of the five stories. Time passes swiftly in some locations and is knotted thickly at others. An exquisitely made artefact could either be the model for a palace or a memorial of it. Has the woman fleeing managed to escape once again or has she drowned in the fast-flowing river? A narrative thread from one story may be taken up and twisted in another. Together the stories create a shimmering maze where meaning is elusive but from which the enchanted reader never wants to exit.

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