Novels on Mughal India (Lance Nelson, Spring 2004)

Compiled by Lance Nelson


Basu, Kunal. The Miniaturist. New Delhi; New York: Penguin Books, 2003.

Dalrymple, William. White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth- Century India. New York: Viking Press, 2003.

Myers, Leopold Hamilton (1881-1944). The Near and the Far, containing The Root and the Flower & The Pool of Vishnu. With an introd. by L. P. Hartley. London: J. Cape, 1956.

“May occasionally be a little too late-Edwardian in tone for current taste ( the first volume of ” The Root and the Flower ” was, I think, published around 1930 ), but it is nonetheless a remarkable large scale and fully imagined novel of ideas set in Akbar’s reign which is alive to the various intersecting cultural and religious currents of that time.” –Paul Dundas

Ruswa, Mirza Mohammad Hadi (1857-1931). Umrao Jan Ada. Trans. by David Matthews. Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 1996.

Also a video:

Ali, Musaffar. Umrao Jaan [videorecording]. Integrated Films/Sangeet Video, [199-?], 145 min.

Based on the novel “Umrao Jan Ada” by Mirza Hadi Ruswa. Originally produced as a motion picture in 1981.A costume and musical spectacular of the life of a courtesan, musician and dancer in 19th century Lucknow. Abducted as a child and sold in Lucknow, Umrao Jaan is trained in music and dance. She grows up to become immensely popular with the elite, falls in love with an aristocrat nawab, finds companionship with her childhood friend Gauhar Mirza, and finally escapes her claustrophobic life with the bandit Faiz Ali.

Sundaresan, Indu. The Twentieth Wife. New York: Pocket Books, 2002.

Sundareshan, Indu. The Feast of Roses. New York: Atria Books, 2003

Worthington, Gary. India Fortunes: A Novel of Rajasthan and Northern India Through Past Centuries. Olympia, WA: TimeBridges Publishers, 2003.


Appended by Fred Smith:

Cuckold. By Kiran Nagarkar. An historical novel about a mythical Mira Bai and her husband. The latter is the hero, which is a convenient strategy, as we in fact know next to nothing about him. The novel is really about the politics of Mewar in the early 16th century, up to (and including) the takeover by Babur. What I think really works well here is that the author uses dozens, maybe hundreds, of Hindi words without translating any of them, and he has made it work brilliantly.