Thursday musings: 5 must-read books by Mulk Raj Anand
Mulk Raj Anand was one of the most iconic authors who had Indian literature celebrated across the world. Challenging many societal evils like casteism and destitution, he was amongst the first few India-based authors to write in English and gain an international readership. Here are five spectacular books by Mulk Raj Anand that you must read, if you haven't already.
Written in 1939, The Village is the first part of a trilogy that includes Across the Black Waters and The Sword and the Sickle. The plot showcases the Indian political structure back then, including the British rule and the Indian independence movement. The story is about Lal Singh, a young farmer from Punjab, who joins the army to escape the landlord's charges.
Across the Black Waters is the second installment of the trilogy that includes The Village and The Sword and the Sickle. This 1939-publish is about Lalu, a sepoy in the Indian Army, who wants to reclaim the land in his village by serving in the British imperial army. However, when he returns from the war, he sees his family destroyed and his parents dead.
The Big Heart dates back to 1945 and highlights the conflicts between the hereditary copper smiths and the capitalists. This book talks about the artisans in Amritsar during the early 1940s and how their livelihood is destroyed by the establishment of a factory that manufactured copper utensils. A timeless tale of destitution, power, and inevitability, this book subtly outlines modernization and fear of change.
Coolie was written in 1936, condemning the social, economic, and cultural impact of the British Raj on India's caste system. The plot revolves around a 14-year-old, orphan and uneducated boy named Munoo from Kangra Hills. The story showcases his plight due to poverty and exploitation - from how he is humiliated by the banker's wife to his demise at the age of 15.
Mulk Raj Anand's first book, Untouchable was written in 1935. Challenging the caste system this book was inspired by his aunt's experience of being treated as an outcast when she shared a meal with a Muslim woman. It revolves around the life of a young sweeper named Bakha, who is considered "untouchable" for his job of cleaning latrines. Check out more such book recommendations.