The best Indian adventure books with a multicultural cast

Why am I passionate about this?

My father hails from India, where my first book became a national bestseller when I was 17. My co-author Thomas Locke has written over a dozen thrillers and even more adventure novels. We are both fascinated by India as a land of endless contrasts. From its cuisine and customs to the diverse people and landscape, India can be overwhelming, but never boring. The ancient backdrop of beautiful buildings and interwoven histories whisper secrets and beckon for adventure. Both of us have visited over 40 countries and enjoy reading and writing about multicultural characters. Especially when they want to conquer or save the world!


I co-wrote...

Fortune's Favor

By Thomas Locke, Jyoti Guptara,

Book cover of Fortune's Favor

What is my book about?

Consummate adventurer Jeremy Spade arranges ‘life-changing trips’ in the deserts, mountains, and jungles of Asia. His firm lets the world’s richest experience the world’s wildest parts, all from the comfort of an air-conditioned tent with a Michelin-class chef on call. When their helicopter is shot down, Jeremy saves an heiress who was betrothed in her teens to seal the bond between two of India’s most powerful clans.

If any of them are to survive, they will have to face the dark secret they hoped to leave in the Thar desert – a mystery that has kept India’s elite in power for generations. Defying an ancient cabal might just be the shot at romance and redemption they have both been waiting for. But when ancient Asian secrets are involved, they're usually blood-stained.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Man Who Would Be King

Jyoti Guptara Why did I love this book?

I especially loved how the romantic elements were woven into this incredible mystery adventure. The characters were larger than life, and the goals they set out to achieve were equally audacious. This to me was a great adventure, great mystery, and truly a great thriller. How to conquer a nation, how to indulge the fantasies and make them reality, and in the process give form to two broken lives.

Both the lyrical story-poem itself and the film adaptation had an immense impact on my early writing. It was not the story itself that so enthralled and challenged me. Rather, I wanted to reach for these great heights. I personally feel too much of today's writing is limited by small visions.

By Rudyard Kipling,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Man Who Would Be King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Literature’s most famous adventure story, this stirring tale of two happy-go-lucky British ne’re-do-wells trying to carve out their own kingdom in the remote mountains of Afghanistan has also proved over time to be a work of penetrating and lasting political insight—amidst its raucous humor and swashbuckling bravado is a devastatingly astute dissection of imperialism and its heroic pretensions.


Book cover of The Strangler Vine

Jyoti Guptara Why did I love this book?

I love a Sherlock and Watson kind of relationship, and this one fit the early days of the British Raj perfectly. Two Brits in the employ of the East India Trading company who could not be more different. Avery is very much part of the system and eager to please. His mysterious guide, Jeremiah Blake, is critical of the Company and gets on far better with the wide cast of locals. I soaked up the historical setting, and the growing intrigue tided me over to the last third, which delivers everything you’d want in a historical thriller.

By M.J. Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Strangler Vine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in the untamed wilds of nineteenth-century colonial India, this dazzling historical thriller introduces Blake and Avery—an unforgettable investigative pair.

India, 1837: William Avery is a young soldier with few prospects except rotting away in campaigns in India; Jeremiah Blake is a secret political agent gone native, a genius at languages and disguises, disenchanted with the whole ethos of British rule, but who cannot resist the challenge of an unresolved mystery. What starts as a wild goose chase for this unlikely pair—trying to track down a missing writer who lifts the lid on Calcutta society—becomes very much more sinister as…


Book cover of The White Tiger

Jyoti Guptara Why did I love this book?

This one haunted me with its matter-of-fact portrayal of the highs and lows of life in modern India. Dark humor makes the heavy themes go down smoothly. I was fascinated by the harsh reality of life for a low-caste Indian who wants to please masters who end up throwing him under the bus, almost literally. I liked the complicated relationship between master and servant, especially with Western influences in the mix. Adiga juxtaposes past and present, East and West, idealism and necessity. I enjoyed the feeling of wanting and not wanting the protagonist to succeed. Disturbing and heart-wrenching!

By Aravind Adiga,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The White Tiger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2008

Balram Halwai is the White Tiger - the smartest boy in his village. His family is too poor for him to afford for him to finish school and he has to work in a teashop, breaking coals and wiping tables. But Balram gets his break when a rich man hires him as a chauffeur, and takes him to live in Delhi. The city is a revelation. As he drives his master to shopping malls and call centres, Balram becomes increasingly aware of immense wealth and opportunity all around him, while knowing that he…


Book cover of Shantaram

Jyoti Guptara Why did I love this book?

I met Gregory David Roberts when we were both reading at a literary festival in Mumbai, or Bombay, where much of this epic novel is set. I loved getting to know the main character (based on Roberts), Australia’s “most wanted man,” as he finds his new place in the world, in India. Vivid descriptions breathe life into characters and settings. They make the hero come alive, too, and help him reinvent himself – several times. This reflects the diversity of life in India. Epic in every sense.

By Gregory David Roberts,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Shantaram as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major television series from Apple TV+ starring Charlie Hunnam!

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.”

An escaped convict with a false passport, Lin flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of Bombay, where he can disappear. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter the city’s hidden society of beggars and gangsters,…


Book cover of The Far Pavilions

Jyoti Guptara Why did I love this book?

Identity and honour are at the heart of this epic historical adventure. Being half Indian and half British myself, I identified with the main character, Ash. I love how he doesn’t even know of his British heritage until later in life, and how his upbringing among Indians causes him grief when he tries to fit in with “his own kind,” both in England, and on his return to India. I enjoyed Ash’s awkwardness, rashness, and creativity serving as a go-between for not just two, but many peoples. The diplomatic dilemmas are gripping, the obstacles to a forbidden love with a half-caste princess excruciating. A word on the climax: no one has written a better scene about honourable death in battle than this lady! The ending is even better – rarely has a book touched me so.

By M.M. Kaye,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Far Pavilions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of M.M. Kaye's epic novel of love and war. M.M. Kaye's masterwork is a vast, rich and vibrant tapestry of love and war that spans over twenty years, moving from the foothills of the Himalayas, to the burning plains, to the besieged British Mission in Kabul. It begins in 1857 when, following the Indian Mutiny, young English orphan Ashton is disguised by his ayah Sita as her Indian son, Ashok. As he forgets his true identity, his destiny is set...A story of divided loyalties and fierce friendship; of true love made impossible…


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Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

By Kathleen DuVal,

Book cover of Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

Kathleen DuVal Author Of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional historian and life-long lover of early American history. My fascination with the American Revolution began during the bicentennial in 1976, when my family traveled across the country for celebrations in Williamsburg and Philadelphia. That history, though, seemed disconnected to the place I grew up—Arkansas—so when I went to graduate school in history, I researched in French and Spanish archives to learn about their eighteenth-century interactions with Arkansas’s Native nations, the Osages and Quapaws. Now I teach early American history and Native American history at UNC-Chapel Hill and have written several books on how Native American, European, and African people interacted across North America.

Kathleen's book list on the American Revolution beyond the Founding Fathers

What is my book about?

A magisterial history of Indigenous North America that places the power of Native nations at its center, telling their story from the rise of ancient cities more than a thousand years ago to fights for sovereignty that continue today

Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

By Kathleen DuVal,

What is this book about?

Long before the colonization of North America, Indigenous Americans built diverse civilizations and adapted to a changing world in ways that reverberated globally. And, as award-winning historian Kathleen DuVal vividly recounts, when Europeans did arrive, no civilization came to a halt because of a few wandering explorers, even when the strangers came well armed.

A millennium ago, North American cities rivaled urban centers around the world in size. Then, following a period of climate change and instability, numerous smaller nations emerged, moving away from rather than toward urbanization. From this urban past, egalitarian government structures, diplomacy, and complex economies spread…


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