#10Books set in Calcutta

Sea of poppiesEven if you don’t have a trip to India planned, these evocative novels will transport you.

Sea of poppies by Amitav Ghosh The background to this historical adventure is the Opium Wars. The story revolves around the Ibis, an old slaving-ship voyaging across the Indian Ocean, its crew made up of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts, representing Westerners and Indians respectively. Slowly they start considering themselves as ship-brothers

The midnight palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafón From the author of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’, the haunting story of a secret society and a labyrinthine railway station with a dark past. 1916, Calcutta. A man pauses for breath outside the ruins of Jheeter’s Gate station knowing he has only hours to live. Pursued by assassins, he must ensure the safety of two newborn twins, before disappearing into the night to meet his fate.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, ‘The Lowland’ is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri’s achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date

 The lives of othersLives of Others by Neel Mukherje Calcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in student unrest, agitation, extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is this note. The ageing patriarch and matriarch of his family, the Ghoshes, preside over their large household, unaware that beneath the barely ruffled surface of their lives the sands are shifting

Chowringhee by Śaṃkara First published in Bengali in 1962, is a sprawling saga of the intimate lives of managers, employees and guests at one of Calcutta’s largest hotels, the Shahjahan,

Song of Kali by Dan Simmons Robert Luczak has been hired by Harper’s to find a noted Indian poet who has reappeared years after he was thought dead. But Lucsak’s routine assignment turns into a nightmare when he learns that the poet is rumoured to have been brought back to life in a ceremony of human sacrifice

A dead hand: a crime in Calcutta by Paul Theroux When Jerry Delfont, a travel writer with writer’s block, receives a letter from an American philanthropist, Mrs Merrill Unger, with news of a scandal involving an Indian friend of her son’s, he is sufficiently intrigued to pursue the story.

Bijou Roy by Ronica Dhar When Bijou Roy takes the ashes of her father home to India it is natural that she should be interested in his past & why he emigrated to the U.S. Naveen… the son of her father’s old friend, knows the answers, but can he be induced to tell? This is a story about crossing cultural boundaries, exile & family secrets

The strangler vine by M. J. Carter India. 1837. William Avery, a fresh young officer in the East India Company, arrives in Calcutta expecting to be seduced by its ancient traditions. Nine months later he longs to return home before the cholera epidemic finishes him off. Xavier Mountstuart, a disgraced poet had left Calcutta earlier to track down the last of the remaining Thugs, a sinister secret fraternity notorious for strangling thousands of travellers but after reaching the kingdom of Jubbulpore, Mountstuart mysteriously disappears

Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald A magnificent, twisting, turning love story unfolds against a backdrop of exotic splendour as Englishwoman Laura Hewitt accompanies her cousin and fiance, first to Calcutta and then to the fabled fiefdom of Oliver Erskine, Zemindar – or hereditary ruler – of a private kingdom with its own army. But India is on the verge of the Mutiny, which will sweep them all up in its turbulence. Not one of them – not even the Zemindar himself – will remain unchanged by this violent rebellion against the Raj

4 thoughts on “#10Books set in Calcutta

  1. I quite enjoyed Lowland. You must read it. 🙂 Also, parts of Neel Mukherjee’s other book, Past Continuous, are set in Calcutta as well.

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