Travel & Living

Top 5 Indian books featuring a strong woman lead!

Because we can all write a queen into our pages!

Writing is like growing a family: you never know if you wanted to do it in the first place, but then, years later, they are there guarding you when you are at your weakest. Though India is home to so many notable and continuously developing writers, you still gasp at bookstores when you look through the books and find a woman-centric novel featuring just her and her life.

Raising a strong female lead may be like pelting a stone in the ocean and waiting for the waves to come closer to you. They tell you it is impossible until you move forward to drench yourself, and yes, some notable authors have come out unscathed from the tides, with books featuring a strong woman lead. They have raised queens, immigrants, girls like you and me, to dream of writing our story out in pages.

If you are still doubting the presence of strong female leads in Indian literature, here’s a list of the top 5 women-centric novels that germinated in Indian minds.

  • Neti, Neti by Anjum Hasan

The book takes you by surprise and takes your emotions by the collar as it speaks the story of Sophie, a girl from the green meadows of Shillong trying to fit in the streets of Bangalore, trying to make a living. She constantly struggles with the feeling of not belonging anywhere: something most of us relate to, at some point in time. The ending shall plaster a smile on your face, while all along carrying your emotions on paper.

  • The Palace Of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Devakaruni

She sacrificed. She suffered. She avenged. Draupadi, Panchaali, Yagyaseni and what not. The epic battle of the Mahabharata is often considered a brutal act of revenge for the humiliation of this warrior princess. But we never got to know her voice through it all. This book by Chitra Banerjee Devakurni gives the perfect feminist approach to the epic, with the story lived through the eyes of Draupadi. It sheds light on the struggles women face and has that ideal glass clear view on womanhood and life.

  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Two brothers. Two different ways. What does a woman do in all this? That’s exactly what you get to find out in this book through Gauri. The author makes you sympathize with her, question her and live through all her decisions on both the extremes of sanity. If not for the writer’s beautiful approach, winning the NAIBA Book of the Year award in Fiction 2014 would urge you to pick this book up.

  • Lifting the Veil by Ismat Chughtai

If you run away from long, frolicking tales of a single protagonist, then this collection of short stories might just be the right pick for you. Be it female homosexuality or the freedom of female pleasure, this book has all the stories you need to up the feminist in you.

“The Quilt” is her short story outlining the suffocation of women by cultural norms while her “The Homemaker” features a bold protagonist not afraid to objectify men for her advantage. The perspectives in the book give you different facets of womanhood, as fresh as dew on a wilting leaf.

  • All the Lives We Have Never Lived by Arundhati Roy

Celebrating womanhood on every page, this book by Roy brings out all the shades of womanhood including motherhood, rejection, grief, and the important asset of freedom. Through Gayatri, you live a woman who balances her family life while adhering to her hobbies of singing, painting, and dancing. The intricate details of the scenes, the characters and their stories threaded with the sleek portrayal of emotions make this book a treat to all women who wish to celebrate their womanhood.


Books and women: they have one thing in common. Both have stories, loads of them, that when heard and seen, makes you live better. Some may lay dusty, but all of them are always worth reading through.

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