07/10/2013 03:47 pm ET Updated Sep 09, 2013

7 Essential Indian Books

The cruelest thing you can do to a writer who's about to make his American novel debut is ask him to write a list of recommendations for other people's books. It leads to crippling moral quandaries: 'Why should I? How do I use this to pimp my own work?' Once these panic-induced problems are overcome by deep breathing, though, a far more complex problem evolves. How do I make a list of seven essential books from a completely-impossible-to-understand country with over a billion people and strong literary traditions in at least 10 languages, most of which I don't speak?

Several disclaimers: I write books that contain superheroes, killer rabbits, underground cities and giant mecha-bots, so our tastes might not overlap at all. I read across genres and media, and think the most exciting currently evolving body of literature in the world right now is the HBO screenplay. I've also been writing for a living for a decade now, which brings with it a range of personal prejudices, some probably subconscious. Enough talk. Here's the list.

Samit Basu is the author of the new Indian superhero novel Turbulence.

7 Essential Indian Books