10 Best Indian Writers and Authors of the 21st Century

If you are looking for Chetan Bhagat or Durjoy Dutta then this list is not for you. India is home to some of the greatest writers in the world. From Rabindranath Tagore to R. K. Narayan, talented writers and authors from India have produced a bunch of brilliant gems for the world to read. In the last two decades, several ground-breaking publications have been made. Books of all genres written in several Indian languages by Indian writers have made a deep impact on the minds of the young generation. In this list, I will focus on the best Indian writers whose works have gained momentum and popularity in the 21st century.

Also read: 20 Must Read Books By Indian Authors For Your TBR List

1. Shashi Tharoor

He is India’s answer to a British thesaurus. Interestingly he has recently published a book called Tharoorosaurus, a book in which he lists 53 words out of his vocabulary with interesting anecdotes about the origin of those words. Apart from that, he has authored no less than 20 books including An Era of Darkness: The British Empire, Bookless in Baghdad, Why I am a Hindu, and The Paradoxical Prime Minister. I am a fan. Also check out the works of his son, Kanishk Tharoor, who is one of the best Indian writers of recent times.

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2. Aravind Adiga

Aravind Adiga’s debut novel won a Man Booker Prize in 2008. With the 2021 film adaptation, The White Tiger has become one of the most popular reads of the century. Adiga began his career as a financial journalist and soon found his passion in writing. His notable works include the novel Selection Day (2016) and a collection of short stories Between the Assassinations that was also published in 2008.

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3. Kiran Desai

In 2007, she was the youngest female author to win the Man Booker Prize. Although the record is no longer hers, her legacy remains unmatched. Her 2006 novel The Inheritance of Loss is her most notable work. Although she is the daughter of the great writer Anita Desai, she has made a wonderful mark for herself in the contemporary literary scene.

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4. Devdutt Pattanaik

The first name that comes to our minds when we think about mythology. This doctor turned comparative mythologist has written a bunch of interesting books about Indian and European mythology, folklore, and legends. He has successfully removed the air of mysticism that surrounds this genre and made it more accessible to the public. His famous books include Jaya, My Gita, Sita, Business Sutra, and Myth= Mithya. Do check out his fascinating series of children’s books, Fun in Devlok.

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5. Amish Tripathi

This best-selling novelist has redefined the idea of mythological fiction. It is difficult to ignore his contribution to the 21st-century Indian literary scene. He gained popularity with The Shiva Trilogy. His other works include Sita- Warrior of Mithila and Legend of Suheldev: The King Who Saved India.  If you like Amish Tripathi then do check out Kavita Kane and her novel Lanka’s Princess, which narrates the Ramayana from the point of view of Surpanaka.

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6. Vikas Swarup

It is difficult to not include the writer of Q&A (2005) while forming a list of the best Indian authors of the century. Oh, Q&A is the book behind the 2008 Oscar sweeping movie Slumdog Millionaire (2008). This Indian diplomat is an excellent storyteller, which is quite evident. His other works include the novels Six Suspects (2008) and The Accidental Apprentice (2013).

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7. Janice Pariat

This wonderful writer from the beautiful land of Meghalaya is not only young but also extremely promising. Her most famous books include Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories and Seahorse: A Novel. In 2013 she won the Sahitya Akademi Young Writer Award, the first writer in English from Meghalaya to do so. She also won the Crossword Book Award in 2013.

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8. Judy Balan

She writes parodies of Chetan Bhagat novels. Haha. Okay, I don’t hate Chetan Bhagat, I just, umm, moving on. But she is not on this list because of my prejudice against Bhagat but because she is indeed promising.  Coming back to Balan, her comedy is on point. Two Fates: The Story of My Divorce, a parody of Bhagat’s Two States: The Story of My Marriage and Half Boyfriend, a parody of Half Boyfriend are two rollicking novels written by this gem of a writer.

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9. Ira Trivedi

She is the one to turn to for young adult novels. But she doesn’t stop there. She has written books on Yoga, being an expert in the art. Her most brilliant work is the 2014 book India in Love: Marriage and Sexuality in the 21st Century. In 2017 she was listed in BBC’s 100 Most Influential Women in the World.

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10. Indrapramit Das

This list had to include a writer of speculative fiction. Writers like Indrapramit Das and Samit Basu have kept the genre of science fiction and speculative fiction alive in India. Why is it that only writers from Bengal make a name in this genre (Ahem, Satyajit Ray)? Indra Das’s debut novel The Devourers won them the Lambda Literary Award in 2017. But, wait, you need to hear this. Their short fiction (drum rolls…) has been published in the ‘Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine’! Yes. I’m envious.

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In this list, I have tried to include the best Indian writers from multiple genres to suit the tastes of a larger audience. Let’s hope that this century will give us many more such writers who will continue the legacy set by the likes of Ruskin Bond, Vikram Seth, R. K. Narayan, Khushwant Singh, and many more. If I missed out on some of your favourite young Indian writers then do let me know. If it is Chetan Bhagat then please keep it to yourself. Jokes apart, did you like this list of some of the best Indian writers and authors of the 21st century? Do let me know in the comments section.

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