Books by Shashi Tharoor

SHASHI THAROOR is the author of three novels, Riot, Show Business,and The Great Indian Novel, and two works of nonfiction, India: From Midnight to the Millenniumand Nehru:A Biography, all published by Arcade. He has written for the New York Times,the Wash


WHY I AM A HINDU by Shashi Tharoor
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 1, 2018

"A thoughtful celebration of Hinduism as a potentially unifying force."
An Indian diplomat examines his deeply held spiritual beliefs. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

"Lacks a cohesive structure, but entertaining and informative nonetheless."
The successes and failures of contemporary Indian society, supplemented by "An A to Z of Being Indian." Read full book review >
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: July 11, 2005

"Intriguing thoughts by an author of worldly range and depth. "
United Nations senior official Tharoor (Nehru, 2003, etc.) reflects on some important—and neglected—literary influences of his cultural heritage in 40 columns originally written for Indian newspapers. Read full book review >
NEHRU by Shashi Tharoor
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 1, 2003

"A thoughtful account, likening Nehru to Thomas Jefferson in ways both positive and negative."
A well-crafted life of the Indian politician and independence-movement hero. Read full book review >
RIOT by Shashi Tharoor
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"Sexual passions are secondary to far more fiery political ones in Tharoor's truthful but disappointing third novel, more a reasoned argument than a tender love story."
Tharoor (Show Business, 1992, etc.) makes an anguished plea for religious tolerance, in a story about the 1989 murder of a young American during a sectarian riot in northern India. Read full book review >
THE FIVE-DOLLAR SMILE by Shashi Tharoor
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 1, 1993

A collection of early stories—most written when the Indian- born Tharoor (Show Business, etc.) was in his late teens and early 20s—that are more a foretaste of the good things to come than accomplishments in themselves. With the exception of ``The Solitude of the Short-story Writer,'' the pieces here are set in India, where cosmopolitan city-dwellers may have a lingering sentimental affection for the countryside they long ago left but are seduced by an increasingly Western culture. Two stories—``The Village Girl'' and ``City Girl''—are updated versions of the old children's tale of ``The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse'': a sophisticated male student (in the first story) and a sophisticated young woman (in the second), both reluctantly visiting their respective family's old country homes, are taught some surprising—and profound—lessons by the countryfolk they thoughtlessly seduce. The most mature piece here is that of the title, in which a lonely orphan—the ``poster- child'' of an organization raising money for the institution—is determined to visit the family in America that have ``adopted'' him and writes deliberately touching letters to them. The letters result in a ticket for a three-week visit, but on the flight, surrounded by strangers and unfamiliar objects, the boy suddenly experiences an intense loneliness: ``he was alone, lost somewhere between a crumpled magazine clipping and the glossy brightness of a color photograph.'' Other notables are: ``The Boutique'' (a son witnesses the humiliation of his mother by a group of urban sophisticates); ``Auntie Rita (a young man's affair with his aunt in the city ``becomes a ticket back home, but not just to the life he had known at home, new worlds beckoned''); and the bittersweet ``The Death of a Schoolmaster'' (a politically ambitious son causes inadvertent harm). Like most youthful forays: best forgiven and, with few exceptions, best forgotten. Read full book review >
SHOW BUSINESS by Shashi Tharoor
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 26, 1992

Hindi movies are the metaphor for all that ails the subcontinent in this satirical tale from Tharoor (The Great Indian Novel, 1991), all about life in India's own Tinseltown— ``Bollywood,'' Bombay. Cutting and splicing monologues, lengthy synopses of movies, and excerpts from ``Bollywood's'' sharp-clawed Show Biz columnist, the Cheetah, Tharoor relates the rise, fall, and apotheosis of handsome Ashok Banjara—eldest son of a prominent politician, a connection that helps him get his first role. Ashok's rise to megastardom in the Hindi movie industry—which churns out films with simplistic plots and plaintive theme songs to please the rural masses—is swift. The quintessential movie star, Ashok lives as if life were a movie starring him, along with a supporting cast of beautiful women and servile men. He marries a costar but cheats on her; becomes a Member of Parliament—just another starring role, he assumes—but is framed in a tax-evasion scheme and must resign; in disgrace, he accepts the lead in a low-budget movie, then in a terrible accident on the set is mortally injured. Apotheosis is assured as throngs of loyal fans keep vigil outside while he lies dying. As entertaining and diverting as this sashay through glitzy ``Bollywood'' is, characters like Ashok's father and brother, and a fellow actor who always played the villain, offer more serious commentary. For them, the politicians and films are the same: ``We are both involved in pretense, [and] politics is an end in itself, just like the Hindi film,'' the father says to his dying son. Corruption and illusion are rife; politicians behave like movie villains; and shallow movie stars are heroes of the people. Nothing is real. Tharoor is one of those rare writers who felicitously combines gentle satire with an urgent concern for society's ills. Another eloquent—and entertaining—commentary on contemporary India. Read full book review >