The Greatest Russian, Indian "Contemporary" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Contemporary

Contemporary books are a genre that focuses on stories set in the present day, often exploring current social, cultural, and political issues. These books are typically written in a modern style and often feature relatable characters dealing with real-life situations. Contemporary books can cover a wide range of topics, from romance and family drama to coming-of-age stories and thrillers. The genre is constantly evolving to reflect the changing world we live in, making it a popular choice for readers who want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and issues.

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  1. 1. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

    This novel is a poignant tale of fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, who navigate through their childhood in Kerala, India, amidst a backdrop of political unrest and societal norms. The story, set in 1969, explores the complexities of their family's history and the tragic events that shape their lives. Their mother's transgression of caste and societal norms by having an affair with an untouchable leads to disastrous consequences, revealing the oppressive nature of the caste system and the destructive power of forbidden love. The novel also delves into themes of postcolonial identity, gender roles, and the lingering effects of trauma.

    The 227th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

    "The White Tiger" is a darkly humorous novel set in modern-day India that explores the country's class struggle through the eyes of an ambitious and cunning protagonist. Born in a poor village, he moves to Delhi to work as a chauffeur for a rich family. He eventually breaks free from his life of servitude by committing an act of shocking violence, and uses his newfound freedom to become a successful entrepreneur in Bangalore. The story, told through a series of letters written to the Chinese Premier, is a scathing critique of India's social and economic disparities, and the corruption that permeates all levels of society.

    The 1526th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. A River Sutra by Gita Mehta

    The book weaves together a series of interconnected stories set along the Narmada River in India, exploring themes of love, loss, and spirituality. Through the eyes of a retired bureaucrat who becomes the manager of a guesthouse by the river, the narrative delves into the lives of various pilgrims, ascetics, and seekers who visit the sacred site. Each character's tale reflects the diverse cultural and spiritual tapestry of India, revealing the profound impact of the river on their personal journeys and inner transformations.

    The 1868th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Clay Machine-gun by Victor Pelevin

    "The Clay Machine-gun" is a surreal and complex novel that explores the nature of reality and illusion. The story is set in post-Soviet Russia and follows a protagonist who has multiple identities, including a poet in 19th-century Russia, a 20th-century psychiatric patient, and a 21st-century advertising executive. The narrative moves between these identities and realities, blurring the lines between them and creating a layered and philosophical exploration of Russian society, identity, and the human psyche.

    The 2292nd Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

    This novel explores themes of love, loss, and the human struggle for identity amidst political unrest. Set in India during the Nepalese movement for an independent state, the narrative follows the lives of a retired judge living in the Himalayas, his granddaughter, and his cook. As the political situation worsens, each character must grapple with their own personal issues, including the judge's regret over his failed marriage and his granddaughter's struggle to find her place in the world. The cook, meanwhile, dreams of a better life for his son in the United States. The narrative weaves together these individual stories to create a poignant tapestry of human resilience in the face of adversity.

    The 2459th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Family Life by Akhil Sharma

    Family Life is a poignant, semi-autobiographical novel that follows the experiences of an Indian family that immigrates to America in the late 1970s. Their dream of a better life is shattered when the older son suffers a terrible accident that leaves him brain-damaged. The story is narrated by the younger son, who struggles with the pressures of his parents' expectations, the trauma of his brother's condition, and the cultural dislocation of being an immigrant in America. The novel explores themes of family, love, loss, and the immigrant experience.

    The 2775th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Memories of Rain by Sunetra Gupta

    The novel explores the crumbling marriage of a Bengali woman and her Greek husband. The narrative alternates between Kolkata, India, and London, England, and spans over a decade, capturing the protagonist's emotional turmoil, her struggle to reconcile her Indian heritage with her Western lifestyle, and her eventual decision to leave her unfaithful husband. The novel is rich in poetic language and imagery, and it delves deep into themes of identity, cultural displacement, and the complexities of love and betrayal.

    The 3779th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Holder of the World: A Novel by Bharati Mukherjee

    The novel explores the life of Hannah Easton, a woman born in 17th century Salem, who gets married to a British adventurer and travels to India. In India, she becomes the concubine of a local ruler and takes on the name "The Holder of the World". The story is narrated by a 20th-century woman who discovers Hannah's story through a virtual reality device. The narrative weaves together the historical and the contemporary, the East and the West, and the real and the virtual, to create a rich tapestry of a woman's life and the cultural clashes she experiences.

    The 4067th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Incantations And Other Stories by Anjana Appachana

    "Incantations And Other Stories" is a collection of short stories that delve into the lives of Indian women, exploring themes of tradition, modernity, and identity. The narratives often focus on the personal struggles and inner lives of these women as they navigate societal expectations and their own desires. Set against the backdrop of Indian culture, the stories blend the real with the surreal, weaving together the everyday with the magical through the use of incantations and folklore. The book offers a poignant look at the complexities of life and the power of storytelling in shaping one's reality and sense of self.

    The 5358th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. In Custody by Anita Desai

    The novel explores the life of Deven Sharma, a Hindi literature professor in the small town of Mirpore, India, who finds himself entangled in the complexities of cultural preservation and personal ambition. Tasked with interviewing and recording the works of Nur, a fading Urdu poet, Deven confronts the decline of the Urdu language and the poet's own waning relevance. As he navigates the chaotic and often comical world of Nur's entourage, Deven grapples with his own unfulfilled dreams, a strained marriage, and the stark realities of academic life. The story delves into themes of linguistic heritage, the burdens of tradition, and the search for identity amidst the changing cultural landscape of India.

    The 6600th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov

    "The Good Life Elsewhere" is a darkly humorous and satirical novel that follows a group of Moldovan villagers who embark on a chaotic journey to Italy in search of a better life. Through their misadventures, the author exposes the harsh realities of poverty, corruption, and the desperate measures people are willing to take in pursuit of a brighter future. With a blend of absurdity and poignant social commentary, the novel offers a compelling exploration of the human condition and the universal desire for a better life.

    The 6723rd Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

    "Absurdistan" is a satirical novel by Gary Shteyngart that follows the story of Misha Vainberg, a wealthy and overweight Russian-American who finds himself stuck in the fictional country of Absurdistan after his father's death. The country is on the brink of a civil war, and Misha must navigate his way through the corrupt and absurd political landscape to get back to America and reunite with his love interest. Along the way, he encounters a cast of eccentric characters and experiences the absurdity of life in a country where everything seems to be falling apart.

    The 7063rd Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

    "Unaccustomed Earth" is a collection of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri that explores the lives of Bengali immigrants and their children in the United States. The stories focus on themes of family, love, loss, and cultural identity as characters navigate the challenges of assimilation and the tensions between their American and Bengali identities. The collection is divided into two parts, with the first featuring interconnected stories about the experiences of two generations of a Bengali family, and the second featuring standalone stories that explore similar themes. Overall, the book offers a nuanced and poignant portrayal of the immigrant experience and the complexities of cultural identity.

    The 7845th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Mountain And The Wall by Alisa Ganieva

    "The Mountain and the Wall" is a thought-provoking novel set in a fictional region of Russia, where a massive wall is being constructed to separate the Muslim population from the rest of the country. Through the eyes of various characters, the book explores the impact of this division on individuals and communities, delving into themes of identity, religion, and the struggle for freedom. As tensions rise and conflicts erupt, the story highlights the complexities of human relationships in a divided society.

    The 8244th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Rock, Paper, Scissors And Other Stories by Maxim Osipov

    "Rock, Paper, Scissors And Other Stories" is a collection of captivating short stories that delve into the lives of ordinary people in a small Russian town. Through these interconnected tales, the author explores themes of love, loss, and the complexities of human relationships. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the human condition, the stories in this book offer a poignant and thought-provoking glimpse into the lives of individuals navigating the challenges of modern-day Russia.

    The 9021st Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

    This novel delves into the complex and fraught relationship between a mother and daughter against the backdrop of contemporary India. The daughter, now an adult, grapples with her mother's advancing dementia and the bitter memories of a childhood marked by neglect and unconventional parenting. As the mother's memory deteriorates, the daughter is forced to confront the painful legacy of their past and the ambiguity of her filial obligations. The narrative weaves through themes of memory, betrayal, and the inextricable bond of family, painting a portrait of two women bound by love and resentment in equal measure.

    The 9045th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. The Association Of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

    "The Association of Small Bombs" by Karan Mahajan is a novel that explores the aftermath of a bomb blast in Delhi, India. The story follows the lives of two families affected by the tragedy, as well as the bomber himself. Through their perspectives, the novel delves into themes of grief, revenge, and the complexities of terrorism. Mahajan's writing is both intimate and expansive, offering a nuanced portrayal of the human impact of violence.

    The 9055th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

    "Ghachar Ghochar" is a compelling novella that explores the dynamics of a close-knit Indian family whose lives change dramatically after a sudden financial windfall. The story, narrated by an unnamed protagonist, examines the moral and emotional complexities that arise from their newfound wealth, leading to tension, corruption, and a disintegration of their former values. The title, a nonsense phrase coined by the family, symbolizes the tangled mess their lives have become - a situation so complicated that it's beyond any solution.

    The 9162nd Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Djinn Patrol On The Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

    Set in a sprawling slum in India, this novel follows nine-year-old Jai and his friends as they embark on a quest to find a missing classmate. As children in their community continue to disappear, Jai takes it upon himself to become a detective, determined to uncover the truth. Faced with poverty, corruption, and a society that disregards their plight, Jai and his friends navigate the complexities of their surroundings while grappling with their own fears and dreams. Through their eyes, the book explores themes of innocence, resilience, and the harsh realities of life in a marginalized community.

    The 9281st Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. F Letter: New Russian Feminist Poetry by Galina Rymbu, Eugene Ostashevsky, Ainsley Morse

    "F Letter: New Russian Feminist Poetry" is a captivating collection of contemporary Russian feminist poetry that challenges societal norms and explores themes of gender, identity, and power. Through the powerful and thought-provoking verses of Galina Rymbu, Eugene Ostashevsky, and Ainsley Morse, this anthology sheds light on the experiences and perspectives of women in Russia, offering a unique and refreshing voice in the world of literature.

    The 9297th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. That Long Silence by Shashi Deshpande

    In this thought-provoking novel, a woman named Jaya struggles to find her identity and voice in a patriarchal society. Through introspection and reflection on her past, she grapples with the expectations placed upon her as a wife, mother, and daughter-in-law. As she navigates the complexities of her relationships and confronts societal norms, Jaya embarks on a journey of self-discovery and liberation, ultimately finding the courage to break her long silence and assert her individuality.

    The 9479th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Delhi by Khushwant Singh

    "Delhi" by Khushwant Singh is a captivating exploration of the city's rich history, culture, and people. Through vivid anecdotes and personal experiences, the author paints a vivid picture of Delhi's transformation from ancient times to the present day. From the Mughal era to British rule, and the struggles of Partition, Singh delves into the city's tumultuous past while highlighting its enduring charm. With a blend of wit and nostalgia, this book offers readers a delightful journey through the vibrant streets, monuments, and diverse communities that make up the heart of Delhi.

    The 9586th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. Love And Longing In Bombay by Vikram Chandra

    "Love And Longing In Bombay" is a collection of five interconnected stories set in the bustling city of Bombay. Each story explores themes of love, loss, and longing, as characters navigate their way through the complexities of relationships and the challenges of modern life. From a detective investigating a mysterious disappearance to a struggling actor caught in a web of deceit, these stories offer a glimpse into the diverse lives and emotions of Bombay's inhabitants. With richly drawn characters and evocative descriptions of the city, the book captures the essence of Bombay and delves into the universal experiences of love and longing.

    The 9600th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

    This book provides a deeply researched examination of the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, focusing on the lives of four individuals born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. The book explores how, after the fall of the Soviet Union, instead of moving towards a democratic society, Russia has seen a rise in a new form of totalitarianism under its current leadership. It delves into the psychological shift in the Russian populace, the government's use of homophobia as a method of control, and how the internet and social media have been weaponized for political purposes.

    The 9631st Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Raavan & Eddie by Kiran Nagarkar

    "Raavan & Eddie" is a captivating coming-of-age story set in the bustling streets of Mumbai. The book follows the lives of two young boys, Raavan and Eddie, who grow up in the same chawl and share a unique bond. As they navigate the challenges of poverty, family dynamics, and societal expectations, their friendship is tested, and their dreams take them on unexpected paths. With humor, heart, and a vivid depiction of Mumbai's vibrant culture, this novel explores themes of identity, love, and the pursuit of dreams in a rapidly changing world.

    The 9729th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

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Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download