A Look At Shashi Tharoor's Bookshelf

The politician and former international civil servant shares his ten favourite books.

Compiled by Suchismita Ukil Updated: Oct 11, 2018 16:57:42 IST
A Look At Shashi Tharoor's Bookshelf

An author, politician and former international civil servant, Shashi Tharoor straddles several worlds of experience. Currently a second-term Lok Sabha Member of Parliament (MP), he has also had a three-decade long career at the United Nations. Tharoor is an award-winning author of 16 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Penguin India, Rs 399)

Magnificent, uplifting and profoundly moving, sweeping in its recreation of a magical world of never-ending enchantment, the "novel of the century".

The Argumentative Indian (Amartya Sen, Penguin UK, Rs 399)

Wonderfully written, lucidly argued, meticulously researched and thoughtfully constructed essays on essential aspects of Indian intellectual and cultural life by the Nobelist and polymath. Illuminating and humane.

Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie, Random House UK, Rs 499)

I reviewed this book when it came out in 1981 and called it "The Great Indian Novel", a title I misappropriated for my own fictional debut eight years later. But this was the novel that expanded the realm of the possible in Indian English writing, lifting the literary shackles for the generations to follow. A masterpiece.

The Legends of Khasak (O. V. Vijayan, Penguin India, Rs 250)

Well before Garcia Marquez's genius touched Indian minds in the English translation, an author-cartoonist had invented magical realism in Malayalam, in this fantastic yet searing tale of a Kerala village schoolteacher. A genuine classic.

The Mahabharata of Vyasa (transcreated by P. Lal, Writers Workshop)

A wonderfully racy, contemporary translation of the timeless epic, melding poetry and prose and full of contemporary idiom, Prof Lal's is unarguably the best and most readable English-language version of the Mahabharata.

The Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru (Penguin India, Rs 650)

The brilliant mind of the great nationalist sparkles in this evocation of the cultural, political and civilizational heritage of our nation.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonasson, Little, Brown Book Group, Rs 399)

In the absence of my favourite author, P. G. Wodehouse, from this list (see note below), I could not resist including the funniest book I have read in a very long time that was not by Wodehouse. Jonasson's madcap humour, told in a deadpan style that takes hilarity to a new level, is unmatched for its wit, its inventive plotting and its skewed take on the history of the 20th century--Forrest Gump meets Zelig in a Swedish farce, and if you don't laugh out loud multiple times, you must be a dour reader indeed.

The Man Who Knew Infinity (Robert Kanigel, Little, Brown Book Group, Rs 599)

I am no mathematician, but Kanigel's superb retelling of the life of the mathematical genius S. Ramanujan hooked me from start to finish, filling me with wonder at his blessed talent and with despair at the tragic waste of his life.

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Milan Kundera, Faber, Rs 467)

Dry wit, spare prose, penetrating political insight characterize this unsparing portrait of Eastern Europe under Soviet Communist domination.

A Corner of a Foreign Field (Ramachandra Guha, Penguin Random House India, Rs 499)

A marvellous telling of the history of the sport I am most passionate about, in the country I am most passionate about! Almost everything you need to know about the evolution of Indian cricket. Wonderful!

Missing from this list is any one of at least 20 books by P. G. Wodehouse, who published 95, all of which I have devoured, and whom I reverentially think of as "The Master" of English prose. It was precisely my inability to pick just one of them above the rest that prevented me from featuring a Wodehouse in my list. But he deserves mention here as my favourite author overall for his sustained brilliance, his mastery of language and the sheer pleasure imparted by his hilariously plotted novels.


Book prices are subject to change. All book details are as seen on Amazon.in.

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