A good book can transport you anywhere - even as far afield as
the vibrant streets of Mumbai. Whether you're planning an immersive
holiday of your own or are simply looking for some travel
inspiration, these 10 books about Mumbai delve into the heart of
this ever-evolving metropolis. Now's the time to begin your summer
reading list in earnest.
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Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine
Beginning our list of books about Mumbai is this stunning
non-fiction written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Katherine Boo,
a work that proves that fiction isn't the only place where vibrant
stories can be found. Boo spent three years in the Annawadi
community on the outskirts of Mumbai. The chronicle she's crafted
is a beguiling and evocative tapestry of its occupants' lives, some
tinged by hope and others coloured by tragedy.
Midnight's Children by Salman
One of the most popular works by bestselling author Salman
Rushdie, Midnight's Children was first published in 1980.
The groundbreaking story blends historical fiction with magical
realism as it treks across the subcontinent. Both beginning and
ending within a Mumbai touched with mysticism, the novel provides a
fantastical perspective on the city.
© Eric Kim
Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas
While many know Slumdog Millionaire as an Academy Award
winning film, fewer realise that the story began as a novel.
Originally titled Q&A, it was the first book by
diplomat-turned-writer Vikas Swarup. The heart-warming account sees
a young man from the slums of Mumbai take a turn on a notoriously
difficult quiz show - but will he win the big million?
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
A fast-paced and thrilling read, Shantaram is perhaps
all the more engaging for taking inspiration from the author's own
life. The book tells the story of an escaped Australian convict who
settles in a slum in Mumbai, mixing with locals ranging from
artists to crime lords. Roberts really did live the life of an
escaped prisoner on the run in the city, and his experience comes
through in the novel's rich details.
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Maximum City by Suketu Mehta
Another narrative nonfiction account of this teeming
megalopolis, Maximum City delves into the densely
populated, hugely complex Mumbai; author Suketu Mehta chronicles
his return to the city after years spent living in New York. At
turns moving and chaotic, tragic and comedic, the people that
populate its pages come from all walks of life, and are a microcosm
of Mumbai's huge diversity.
Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram
Comprised of five stories that are loosely intertwined, the
evocative Love and Longing in Bombay centres on a dim
Mumbai bar, where a storyteller spins tales of love and ghosts,
murder mystery and drama. In weaving amongst genres and characters,
the beautifully written collection is a love letter to different
corners of the city.
Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema
by Tejaswini Ganti
No reading list of books about Mumbai would be complete without
exploring its iconic film industry, Bollywood. Scholar Tejaswini
Ganti charts an in-depth discovery of the world's biggest producer
of films, tracing Bollywood's history, parsing out its key genres,
highlighting must-see films and even interviewing actors and
directors. A must read for any curious film lover.
The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman
Confirming Rushdie's status as the Bard of Mumbai is this
lesser-known but no less accomplished work, The Moor's Last
Sigh. Rushdie's fifth novel, it is set in Cochin as well as
Mumbai. A chronicle of four generations of spice
merchants-cum-criminals hailing from the south of India, the bright
and picaresque story is hugely entertaining, and further confirms
Rushdie's brilliance in evoking a strong sense of place.
Tales from Firozsha Baag by Rohinton
Perhaps best known for his award-winning novel A Fine
Balance, Rohinton Mistry has created another winner with
Tales from Firozsha Baag. The work, a collection of 11
charming short stories, is actually the writer's first published
book. Set within a colourful and chaotic Parsi apartment complex in
Mumbai, the saga peeks into the lives of tenants old and young.
Breathless in Bombay by Murzban F
Concluding our list of top books about Mumbai is Breathless
in Bombay, a collection of 14 short stories that chart the
city's incredible transformation into a new capital of modernity.
Still, underlying Mumbai's growth is centuries of rich tradition,
and these engaging narratives capture both sides of its
If any of these titles have inspired you to read further or even
plan a trip to Mumbai you can read the itinerary Heart and
Soul of India.