10 Best Indian Romantic Novels That Are Worth Your Time
When it comes to Indian romantic novels, there are either masterpieces or complete trash, nothing much in between. While the classic Indian novels were exquisitely beautiful, the contemporary ones, though interesting in the plot, aren’t doing justice to the legacy left behind. While Bengali writers shine in this particular genre, several other writers have presented equally brilliant works. Let’s have a look at some of the must-read Indian romantic novels across languages that you should check out.
1. Saraswatichandra by Govardhanram Tripathi
Saraswatichandra is one of the most well-known romantic novels in Indian literature. Originally written in Gujarati and first published back in 1887, it is the story of a young idealist lawyer named Saraswatichandra and his fiancee Kumud. Their love story is disrupted when the protagonist decides to renounce the world and move away from his house. Over the four volumes of the novel, the story takes interesting twists and turns and evolves as a text of longing and despair.
2. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Set in post-Independence India, the story of Lata whose mother wants her to get married to a ‘suitable’ boy. The story is much more than just a matrimonial quest. It is a dive into history, an interesting take at love, an appreciation of art and skill, and overall a celebration of individuality. You will be totally engrossed in this book with its beautiful descriptions of romantic settings.
3. Parineeta by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay
He is the undisputed king of Indian romantic novels. Parineeta is not exactly a novel but a novella, but it is surely his finest work. Parineeta is the story of a 13-year-old girl named Lolita and her undying love and perpetual waiting for her beloved Shekhar. Set in the Bengal Renaissance, it is a seminal text of Bengali literature.
4. Shesher Kobita by Rabindranath Tagore
The first Asian and the only Indian ever to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, Rabindranath Tagore is one of the most acclaimed Indian writers. Shesher Kobita is a love song disguised as a novel. When Amit falls in love with a governess named Lavanya, the two write romantic poems for each other. But unlike most other cliched romantic plots, the ending of this novel comes across as a happy yet tearful surprise. Written more than a hundred years ago, this is one of the freshest romantic novels that you’ll ever come across.
5. Devdas by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Even multiple able-adaptations cannot do enough justice to this Bengali masterpiece by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. You already know the story, thanks to the adaptations, but you are yet to enjoy the subtleties of this novel. Try to read it in Bengali if possible, such an enriching experience it’ll be!
6. The Tamanna Trilogy by Andaleeb Wajid
With this series of three books, No Time For Goodbyes, Back in Time, and Time Will Tell, Andaleeb Wajid has proved to the world that contemporary Indian fiction still has a lot of potential in the romantic genre. Tamanna travels back in time to the 80s when her mother was a teenager and happens to fall in love with Manoj, her mother’s neighbour. This interesting and fresh story is a promising Indian romantic novel series.
7. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Most people do not view this masterpiece as predominantly a romantic text, but it does have subtle yet beautiful romantic elements that are sometimes overshadowed by other important things going on in the plot. Sai’s love for Gyan, who turns out to be a Nepalese insurgent is coloured with a sense of non-fulfillment. Love is celebrated in this novel, not as a sense of fulfillment but as an everlasting ache for the same, love as a loss.
8. The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat
This novel is all about love, loving, and being loved. One of the best works of Janice Pariat, The Nine-Chambered Heart, is a beautiful story told from nine different perspectives about a woman who is an enigma at one point in time and a flawed individual (like we all are) at the other. This novel is a masterpiece!
9. It Does Not Die by Maitreyi Devi
The 1976 winner of the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award, It Does Not Die is a must-read. It was written as a response to Mircea Eliade’s ‘Maitreyi’, in which the writer had described his platonic relationship with Maitreyi Devi as an eroticized one. Through this novel, Maitreyi Devi gave him a befitting reply. The two books, two different perspectives, need to be read together in order to make the most of the experience and fully understand the story.
10. 2 States by Chetan Bhagat
2 States is a beautiful, realistic story of two young career-oriented individuals who fall in love despite their cultural differences. They in turn try to convince each other’s families to accept their love. This is the only Bhagat book that is worth a read because it is his life story and not a story that he has created. It’s high time that we all agree that Bhagat should focus more on his career as a mainstream screenwriter for Bollywood than writing novels. Sorry, not sorry.
These are some of the best (at least readable) Indian romantic novels of all time. I hope that in the future we have better Indian novels in this genre. Touchwood.