Despite what people tell you, there is more to literature set in Mumbai than Shantaram and Maximum City. We caught up with co-owner of bookstore, Wayword & Wise, and avid bibliophile, Virat Chandhok, who gave us his list of personal favourites, that {as every book-lover adamantly insists} we must read.

Breathless in Bombay by Murzban F. Shroff

Photo source: Macmillan

Photo source: Macmillan

If you claim to love the energy of Bombay, Breathless in Bombay is a book you must get your hands on. This collection of short stories, amuses, entertains, shocks but at the core of it, depicts this undulating city in all its honesty. 14 stories each delve into the lives of 14 different characters, be it a massage person on Marine Drive, a peddler, a laundry-man.

The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie

Photo source: Penguin Random House

Photo source: Penguin Random House

This novel by Salman Rushdie settles into its pages the tale of a dysfunctional family living in old Bombay, spanning over a few generations. As with all his works, the language is evocative, passionate and just a tiny bit mad.

Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra

Photo source: Vikram Chandra

Photo source: Vikram Chandra

Love & Longing in Bombay has five stories set in this maximum city, each different windows opening up to different sides of Bombay. Each of the stories is narrated by one protagonist as he lounges at a cheap local bar. The stories are mostly set around the wide roads of SoBo, which will interest you if you have a special likeness to this part of town.

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

Photo source: Penguin Random House

Photo source: Penguin Random House

Opinion to Narcopolis is usually strongly divided, either you fall in love with the rich, heavy, opium-laden prose or you feel distaste for it. Jeet Thayil’s novel portrays Bombay its all the lustre and filth that it encompasses, and as it was in the 1970’s.

I, The Salt Doll by Vandana Mishra and Jerry Pinto

Photo source: Speaking Tiger Books

Photo source: Speaking Tiger Books

Jerry Pinto, the author who in his novel Em and The Big Hoom, rattled the bars which constrained the topic of mental illness has also done a  translation of the autobiographical work by theatre personality and Marathi actor Vandana Mishra.

While this translation does take you to a Bombay which belongs to the past, with the story largely based in Girgaon in the ’70’s,  it is never a Bombay that you won’t recognise.

We also can’t wait to get our hands on Jerry Pinto’s upcoming thriller, Murder in Mahim, which is going to be published by Speaking Tiger in January.

With inputs by Virat Chandhok, co-owner of bookshop Wayword & Wise, Fort.

Featured photo: Athul Prasad/LBB