9 Indian Female Writers Who Enriched The World Of Historical Fiction

Posted: October 21, 2019

Which are the books by female historical fiction writers in India that are a must read? Here are 9 Indian writers of historical fiction you can explore.

As someone fond of History right from his schooldays, historical fiction as a genre has always had a deep impression on me.

There have been several TV series and movies based around this genre which is a treat for the eyes, but novels give you a chance to go much deeper and spend a lot more time with the story which is even more tempting.

In the last few years, numerous Indian writers have taken an interest in this genre because of which we have had so many stories woven around the ancient history of our land. And it’s not surprising that some of them have become bestsellers.

What is even more promising is that we haven’t even begun to explore the history of a country as diverse and ancient as India, which means that there is more to come.

A life enriched by historical events and people

Nayantara Sahgal

One of the most celebrated novelists of our country, Nayantara Sahgal has written extensively on the political happenings during the 70s and 80s.

She has penned down quite a few books that give us a glimpse into the political realities of a diverse nation like India. Some of her well-known novels include The Day in Shadow (1971), A Situation in New Delhi (1977) and Rich Like Us (1985) for which she received the Sahitya Akademi Award. Some of her later novels – Plans for Departure (1985), Mistaken Identity (1988), and Lesser Breeds (2003) – are based on colonial India. A number of her writings are also based on the life and times of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

Stories of Mughal times

Indu Sundaresan

Indu Sundaresan, an Indian-American novelist, was heavily influenced by her father’s and grandfather’s passion for storytelling and it’s no surprise that she developed into one as well.

Although she received a degree in Economics from the University of Delaware she couldn’t suppress her writing bug for long. With novels like the Taj Mahal Trilogy – The Twentieth Wife (2002), The Feast of Roses (2003) and Shadow Princess (2010); she has delved deep into the world of historical fiction, and unearthed some jewels for her readers to cherish. The Twentieth Wife, which also won the Washington State Book Award, has been converted into a television series called Siyaasat.

History Mysteries

Sujata Massey

Sujata Massey is a British-American author of Indian origin who has fourteen novels, two novellas and numerous short stories to her credit. She has been the proud recipient of the Agatha, Lefty and Macavity awards.

Sujata is well known for her work in the historical and mystery fiction genres. With novels like The Sleeping Dictionary (2013), India Grey (2015), The Widows of Malabar Hills (2018) and The Satapur Moonstone (2019) – all of them set in pre-independence India – she has truly made her place among the female historical novel writers of our generation.

Looking at ancient India

Sumedha Verma Ojha

Among the new crop of Indian authors with a knack of writing on Ancient India and the epics, Sumedha spent two decades working for the Indian Revenue Service before following her passion for writing and speaking across various platforms on ancient Indian history, society, women, religion and the epics.

Her first book Ramayana (2015) – co-authored with JP Lotsy – is a delightful collection of paintings depicting the life and times of Lord Rama while her second book Urnabhih (2017) is historical fiction portraying a heady mixture of espionage, adventure, and seduction during the Mauryan kingdom.

Architect turned writer

Amita Kanekar

Although she has studied and excelled in the field of architecture, Amita Kanekar also has a knack for historical fiction. She is a teacher for history and theory in the Goa College for Architecture while also being a member of the Social Justice Action Committee in Goa.

Historical fiction has been her forte and it reflects in the two books she has on this genre. Her first book, A Spoke in the Wheel (2005) is set in the times of Emperor Asoka where a war survivor is tasked with chronicling the life of Gautam Buddha. Her second book, Fear of Lions (2019) is about an unlikely rebellion against the powerful Mughal rule which makes for a breathtaking read.

Shivaji and Aurangzeb

Medha Deshmukh Bhaskaran

A Microbiologist who has worked in various food and pharmaceutical companies in countries like Germany, India and United Arab Emirates, Medha Deshmukh Bhaskaran has also shown her prowess as one of the well known female historical fiction writers in India with works like Frontiers of Karma – The Counterstroke (2014), and Frontiers (2018). Both these novels are a part of an epic trilogy about the battle of wits, ideologies and forces between the two most powerful kings of their time, Chattrapati Shivaji and Aurangzeb.

The ancient kingdom of Magadha

Aditi Kay

Among the new generation of Indian writers of historical fiction, Aditi was always mesmerized by the mysterious world of our past. A passion which she sustained all her professional career working as an editor, human resource professional and management consultant.

The premise for both of her historical novels in India was set in the ancient land of Magadha. Her first novel – Emperor Chandragupta (2016) – is a story of the rise to power of Chandragupta Maurya while her second book – Emperor Vikramaditya (2019) – takes us deep into the era of the Gupta empire where Vikramaditya has to protect his kingdom from a powerful enemy while at the same time engage in a power struggle with his brother Ramagupta.

For kids and adults

Nandini Sengupta

Nandini Sengupta is an Indian writer and journalist based in Pondicherry. Her obsession with India’s illustrious past was the result of a trip to Ajanta and Ellora Caves in 2007. She is also credited for translating the memoirs of the current Chief Minister of Bengal – Mamata Banerjee. Her historical fiction novels – The King Within and A Poisoned Heart (both of them published in 2019) – are a part of her Gupta Empire trilogy. She is also credited with co-authoring The Story of Kalidas: The Gem among Poets, which is a historical fiction story for children which will come out in November 2019.

From finance to historical fiction

Devi Yeshodharan

Devi Yeshodharan was born in Kerala but grew up in the Middle East. Being a speechwriter for the former Infosys Chairman Narayan Murthy and working as a co-founder of Trendline, a financial investment platform, could not stop her from delving into the magical world of History.

With Empire (2017) – about a Greek woman warrior serving the king of the Chola Empire, Devi was able to stamp her name among the Indian writers of historical fiction.

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