“The book that comes closest to having the narrative energy of a work of fiction on my list is India: A Million Mutinies Now by V S Naipaul, which is why I chose it, in part. There’s this idea of the ‘Great American Novel’, which is deeply flawed because we know there isn’t one America. There are many, many Americas and no novel can hope to capture them all. This difficulty is even more pronounced in India. No novel can really capture the different textures of life there. But A Million Mutinies Now does an excellent job of describing the lives, the hopes and aspirations and frustrations of a diverse cast of Indians who have lived through the last 60 years. Some of them are even older figures, who can recall a pre-1947 India. Naipaul himself is very much a figure in the background in this particular book; he just lets people speak. And what you get through the stories that these people tell to Naipaul is a nuanced picture of the many different personal and political journeys since 1947. It’s probably the closest thing you can get to a good book of fiction about India.” Read more...
The best books on India