The year 2021 was a tough one for upcoming novelists in India.
As the country was struck by a deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, it took an emotional and physical toll on most people. Constant lockdowns kept book shops closed for most of the year, and literary fests were either postponed, held virtually, or worse, cancelled.
At the end of such an unpredictable year, it feels particularly important to celebrate upcoming new authors and their books to make sure they receive the applause and kudos that they deserve.
Several Indian authors released books this year. In fact, many of them based their storylines on issues that speak of the times we live in.
Here’s a list of nine upcoming authors to look out for in the years to come:
Parinda Joshi – Author of A House Full Of Men
Born and raised in Ahmedabad, Parinda Joshi is a best-selling author and screenwriter whose modus operandi is best described by Maya Angelou’s famous quote: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.”
In her recent novel A House Full of Men, Joshi navigates through casual sexism in life. Her book is a deep dive into false starts, failed attempts, messy love, refreshing familial bonds, and the importance of being understood… all told with bucketfuls of humour.
The Los Angeles-based author’s previous book Made In China was adapted into a movie of the same name featuring Bollywood actors Rajkummar Rao, Boman Irani, Paresh Rawal, and Mouni Roy.
Mohit Jain – Author of What The Young Don’t Tell
Mohit Jain’s two major sources of literary inspiration are Charles Bukowski and Paulo Coelho.
While Bukowski’s philosophy was “don’t try” and Coelho is all about seeing the remarkable in the ordinary, Jain likes to write with a style that’s a bridge between the two.
In his self-published debut novel What The Young Don’t Tell, the author – who is based in Jaipur, Rajasthan – has broached topics that are relevant to everyday human predicaments. “I don’t like to fictionalise the text too much or write about dragons,” he told The Independent.
The 23-year-old writes, instead, about the challenges being faced by the youth and why being young is both a privilege as well as a responsibility.
Rohini S Rajagopal – Author of What’s A Lemon Squeezer Doing In My Vagina?
Rohini S Rajagopal used to live in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru when an encounter with infertility stopped her in her tracks.
In what she calls “a temporary suspension of good sense”, she quit her well-paying, flexible-hours job to write a book that narrates her journey from infertility to motherhood.
Rajagopal’s overall writing is drawn from her personal experience as a mother. “I’m drawn to raw, intimate accounts of lived experiences,” she told The Independent. “I try to make sure my writing reflects that.”
“For me, writing is a way of making meaning of memory, clarifying what at first seems blurry and bringing some sense of healing and closure to it.”
Amitava Kumar – Author of A Time Outside This Time
Amitava Kumar is a professor of English at Vassar College in upstate New York.
Born in the city of Arrah in the state of Bihar, Kumar is an experienced author who has authored novels such as Husband of a Fanatic, and A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb: A Writer’s Report on the Global War on Terror.
In his most recent book A Time Outside This Time, Kumar focuses on fake news, memory, and the ways in which truth gives over to fiction.
When asked about his writing, Kumar said: “There are many writers who share my origins who are far more flamboyant in their expressions; I have tried to adopt on the page a tone, even when I’m writing fiction, that has a reportorial tone.”
“When writing A Time Outside This Time, there was a different urgency, however,” he added. “I was writing about the arrival of the pandemic and the swirl of lies. How to write as if in real-time? I wanted immediacy, and vividness, writing that felt fresh like blood on the bandage.”
Anindita Ghose – Author of The Illuminated
Anindita Ghose is a writer and journalist based out of Mumbai who completed her MA in Linguistics and Semiotics from the University of Mumbai and has an MA in Arts and Culture Journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York.
In her debut novel The Illuminated, Ghose writes about two women, one of whom gets drawn into a passionate involvement with an older man, which threatens to consume her in ways she did not think possible.
Amid a rising tide of religious fundamentalism in India that is determined to “put women in their place”, the two women attempt to look at themselves, and at each other, in a new light.
Shakoor Rather – Author of Life in the Clock Tower Valley
Shakoor Rather is an author and journalist at the Press Trust of India, New Delhi.
His debut novel Life in the Clock Tower Valley, published in March 2021, focuses on the everyday emotions and hardships that the common people of Kashmir face.
Rather mostly prefers writing fiction, and his setting has so far been Kashmir. “I have written extensively about Kashmir’s politics, society, culture, and heritage,” he said.
Described as delicate and sensitive, Rather’s novel travels between Kashmir’s pristine past, its grievous present, and an uncertain future, giving the reader an insider’s view of everyday life and emotions in the conflict-ridden valley.
Rijula Das – Author of A Death in Shonagachhi (titled Small Deaths in the US and UK)
Rijula Das is an Indian author who lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand.
Das received a PhD in Creative Writing/prose-fiction in 2017 from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she taught writing for two years.
The author’s critical research focuses on the connections between public space and sexual violence, which is the inspiration behind her debut novel A Death in Shonagachhi.
Anushka Jasraj – Author of Principles of Prediction
Anushka Jasraj is a 32-year-old who holds a BFA in Film Production from NYU and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas-Austin, where she also received a degree in Gender Studies.
Jasraj has been writing short fiction for nearly a decade. But recently, the Mumbai-based writer has been experimenting with creative non-fiction in the form of hermit crab essays and lyrical essays. “I’m not sure if my work fits into a particular genre but I can say that it’s definitely not realism,” she said.
In her book Principles of Prediction, Jasraj draws readers into the lives of sisters and friends, parents and daughters, men and women in relationships that casually shrug off easy definitions. “There is tenderness here, and bewilderment as well as reconciliation, as characters strip themselves bare to show us their most intimate fears and fantasies.”
Anubha Yadav – Author of The Anger of Saintly Men
Anubha Yadav is an author, filmmaker, and academic at the University of Delhi, India. Her first work of fiction, The Anger of Saintly Men, calls out toxic masculinity within the Indian family and society at large through its nuanced and unafraid take on what it means to be a “man” in India.
Yadav is interested in exploring the interstices of caste, gender, and class in today’s India. She also has a keen interest in exploring the concept of alienation and belonging in city life for various subjects seen as “outsiders.”