LBB asked the charming historian, speaker and author of The Last Mughal, City of Djinns, White Mughals and more, which books he loves, reads and recommends to the people of Delhi. {When he’s not writing travelogues, that is}.

Here’s what William Dalrymple recommends.

Midnight’s Children

midnightschildren #LBBExclusive William Dalrymple Recommends 5 Books All Dilliwalahs Should Read

Salman Rushdie’s highly esoteric and controversial book is one of William Dalrymple’s top picks. Written in a clinically circuitous manner, with splashes of magic realism thrown in, this is as much a book about a nation and nationhood, as it is about a person. Pick this up for your fiction, history and surrealism needs.

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Twilight in Delhi 

twilight #LBBExclusive William Dalrymple Recommends 5 Books All Dilliwalahs Should ReadImage courtesy: Andrew Amesbury

Being a descendant of the famed Mughals probably added to Ahmed Ali’s understanding of the city of Delhi, and Twilight in Delhi, published during a tumultuous time in Indian history, takes its reader on a journey.

In William Dalrymple’s own words, this book ‘provided me an answer to my question: What happened to the people who made Delhi?’. In fact, in City of Djinns he goes on to say, ‘Twilight in Delhi is not only a very fine novel, it is also an irreplaceable record of the vanished life and culture of pre-war Delhi.’

The book has captured the attention of many great minds, including EM Forster, so why shouldn’t you be next?

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Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire

indiansummer #LBBExclusive William Dalrymple Recommends 5 Books All Dilliwalahs Should ReadAlex von Tunzelmann recreates of one of the key moments of 20th century history: The Partition and Independence of India, and the final days of the Raj in this seminal book. It is not light fiction, so take some time and patience, and sit down with this one. History buffs, if there is anything that is well structured and objective {if there were such a thing}, this would be it.

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Capital: The Eruption of Delhi

capital #LBBExclusive William Dalrymple Recommends 5 Books All Dilliwalahs Should ReadImage courtesy: Voyantes

Capital by Rana Dasgupta explores one of the most important trends of our age—the growth of the global elite. The Guardian expounds on the book by saying that “the book is more than a critique of global capitalism and India’s version of it”.

It is a bleak book about bleak subjects, but is a fascinating study on how the capital has become the centre of all transmogrification. Capital talks about our beloved city and also of capitalism, so get ready to draw all those parallels.

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The Great Mutiny: India 1857

thegreatmutiny #LBBExclusive William Dalrymple Recommends 5 Books All Dilliwalahs Should ReadChristopher Hubbert tells all about the uprising of 1857 in this book, and William Dalrymple recommends this well-researched and well-written book to all readers.

What has been often termed as a battle for freedom by Indians, gets a pretty gritty perspective in this text. Packed with heroic tales and interesting excerpts from historical archives, this is a fun read for anyone who would like a differing perspective on a mainstream ideology.

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We’re picking these up soon and adding it to our already existing list here. What makes it to your list?

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