Indian literature is perhaps larger than any other literature, the reason being the diverse languages which comprise Indian Literature, like, Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, English, and many other languages. Each language has its own set of wonderful writers. There are translations of works available in different languages. Indian Literature, is today not only confined to India, but read and appreciated worldwide. Indian plays and dramas are performed even on international stages in the modern times, and this is one great example of Indian literature’s growth and development. The history of our literature can be traced from Sanskrit scriptures. The Rig Veda is one of the most primitive examples of Indian literature. Recently the term literature has revived with the new wave of writers like Chetan Bhagat, Arundhati Roy, Amish Tripathi, Aravind Adiga, Kiran Desai, Amit Chaudahri Etc. With new awards and recognition, our country is promoting Literature and adjusting with the changes too. Though the modern times have a long list of good writers in our country, there are Indian writers whose contributions can never be forgotten and who will always be looked upon as inspirations. Here is a list of Ten Best Veteran Indian Writers of Last Century:-
10. Amitav Ghosh
Calling Amitav Ghosh one of the best Indian contemporary writers won’t be wrong. He is read by the English literature students in the country. A Bengali though, known for his works in English language, his English novel Shadow lines won the Sahitya Akademi Award. The Shadow Lines, (1988), is a splendidly written surrealist story that narrates the tale of post independent India. Another popular works of this Bengali English writer are, The Circle of Reason, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke. His books have been shortlisted for prestigious awards like Man Booker Prize, Man Asian Literary Prize, and won honors like Ananda Puraskar, Vodafone Crossword Book Prize and Dan David Prize.
9. Vijay Tendulkar
He was one of the greatest Indian versatile writers. He wrote primarily in Marathi and today his works have been translated in other languages and read largely. His most famous plays are Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe, Ghashiram Kotwal and Sakharam Binder. His plays touched the most sensitive and crucial issues of our society. It highlights the vices of our society, like the cast system, prostitution and conspiracies of human society. He had been a very influential theater personality for over five decades. He has won many awards for his plays. Other than a writer he was also a successful essayist, journalist and social commentator.
8. Harivansh Rai Bachchan
Shrivastav alias Bachchan, was a well known poet of Hindi Literature, of the 20th century. He was a significant writer of the Chayavaad Literary Movement. His most famous work is his poem Madhushala. When Madhushala was first published in 1935 it was caught in a lot of controversy for the ironical praise of alcohol in the poem. But later the poem gained a lot of appreciation and fame. He first taught English Literature at Allahabad University, but later went to Cambridge University. He was the second Indian to get a doctorate from the Cambridge University. It was there, that he first used his pen name of Bachchan, instead of his surname Shrivastav. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1975 for his immense contribution to Hindi Literature. He wrote around sixty works, including poems, stories and his autobiographies.
7. Khushwant Singh
Another popular Indian writer from the 20th century is Khushwant Singh, an Indian novelist and journalist. His most famous piece of writing is his column, With Malice towards one and all, printed by various newspapers. Though this column did not escape controversies, it was very popular for its witty art. He had worked as an editor with many magazines and newspapers. He has written plays, poems, and journals. Some of his famous books are, Train to Pakistan, The Sikhs Today, Black Jasmine and Delhi: a novel. He had also been a member of the Rajya Sabha. He received the Padma Bhsuhan in 1974, but he returned it in the protest against the siege of the Golden Temple. But again in 2007 the Indian government awarded him with Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in the country. Even today, at the age of 98, he is an inspiration for hundreds of young Indian writers.
6. Ruskin bond
Ruskin Bond is an Indian writer of British descent. His mother married the second time to Punjabi Hindu after which Ruskin Bond came to live in India. His interest in the paranormal things led him to write popular titles such as Ghost Stories from the Raj, A Season of Ghosts, A Face in the Dark and other Hauntings. He had also contributed significantly to Children’s Literature. His stories are mostly set in hill stations, because he was born in Kasauli and grew up in Shimla, Dehradun and Mussoorie. He was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1992, for his short story collection Our Trees Still Grow In Dehra.
5. Vikram Seth
Vikram Seth is an Indian writer, from Kolkata. He himself describes himself as a linguist, with the knowledge of French, Welsh, German, Hindi, Bengali, Mandarin and English. He has written, poetry, novels and children’s books. He has a long list of awards in his credit. He has won, Thomas Cook Travel Book Award (1983) for From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet, Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) The Humble Administrator’s Garden (1985), Commonwealth Writers Prize (1994) for A Suitable Boy, WH Smith Literary Award (1994) for A Suitable Boy, Crossword Book Award (1999) for “An Equal Music”, Ethnic and Multicultural Media Award (2001) for An Equal Music, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (2005), and Padma Shri in Literature & Education (2007). Vikram Seth had been an important leader of the campaign against India’s Section 377, a law against homosexuality.
4. R K Narayan
R. K. Narayan, shortened from Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, was an Indian writer, best known for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. He is one of three leading figures of early Indian literature in English (alongside Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao), and is credited with bringing the genre to the rest of the world. He has won the Sahitya Akademi Award for The Guide, which was later adapted to make a film. He has written both fictions and non fictions. Some of his famous works are, Swami and Friends, Hamish Hamilton, The Bachelor of Arts, The Dark Room, The Financial Expert, Waiting for the Mahatma, The Guide, The Vendor of Sweets, A Tiger for Malgudi, Malgudi Days and Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories.
3. V S Naipaul
Khushwant Singh, Amitav Ghosh, Aravind Adiga, some of the most well known Indian writers, all have said that they look up to V S Naipaul for their writing inspiration. He is a Trinidadian-British writer, born to parents of Indian descent, who contributed greatly to Indian Literature. He attracted controversy in 2011 by his remarks on women writers, whom he labelled as inferior. In 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, while he has won many other prizes like John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Booker Prize and the David Cohen Prize.
Premchand, originally named Dhanpat Rai Srivastav, from Uttar Pradesh, was one of the foremost writers of Hindustani Literature. He is known as Munshi Premchand, Munshi being a word of honour. Also, some writers have referred to him as Upanyas Samrat. His works include more than a dozen novels, around 250 short stories, several essays and translations of a number of foreign literary works into Hindi. Some of his most famous works are; Panch Parameshvar , Idgah ,Nashaa , Shatranj ke khiladi , Poos ki raat, Kafan, Dikri Ke Rupai , Udhar Ki Ghadi, Gaban , Sevasadan and Godaan.
1. Rabindranath Tagore
Tagore was a Bengali Indian writer. He wrote many stories, novels and dramas, as well as composed music and many songs and contributed significantly to Indian Literature. He wrote his first short story and dramas when he was only 16 years of age. He is not only the giver of Indian National Anthem, but also the father of Bangladeshi National Anthem. Tagore wrote eight novels and four short novels. Some of them are: Gitanjali, “Gora”, Chaturanga, Shesher Kobita, Char Odhay, Noukadubi and Ghare Baire(The Home and the World). “Kaabooliwala” is a tagore’s children’s literature. His works contributed significantly to the Independence struggle. In 1913, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Asian to win this prize. Undoubtedly, he is the greatest Indian writer ever.
Apart from these, there are many great Indian writers, like Salman Rushide, Arundhati Roy, U R Ananthamurthy and Shobhaa De. Their contributions to Indian Literature too cannot be ignored.