100 books like The Lost Man of Bombay

By Vaseem Khan,

Here are 100 books that The Lost Man of Bombay fans have personally recommended if you like The Lost Man of Bombay. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Smoke and Ashes

Nev March Author Of Murder in Old Bombay

From my list on India blending history with gripping mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived the first 24 years of my life in Mumbai and traveled to many parts of India. I’ve had close friends of every community and religion and been fascinated by the incredible diversity. By studying historical crimes and how they were reported and investigated, I learned a great deal about the norms of Indian culture. Reading (and writing) historical mysteries allowed me to dive into past eras and immerse myself in the tumultuous events that have shaped our world today. While I’m obsessed with the turn of the 20th century, mysteries in later years also delight me. Enjoy this selection of mysteries set in India that reveal the inner workings of its diverse culture.

Nev's book list on India blending history with gripping mysteries

Nev March Why did Nev love this book?

Mukherjee’s first chapter is a masterclass on how to open a mystery-thriller.

“It’s not unusual to find a corpse in a funeral parlor. It’s just rare for them to walk door under their own steam. It was a riddle worth savoring, but I didn’t have the time, seeing as I was running for my life.” This got my interest right away. I was in!

Mukherjee’s protagonist is in an opium den at the wrong time. Beautifully bookended, opium forms the personal struggles of this worthy protagonist. With quirky lines “take me to your organ grinder” and “we’re here to see Torquemada” I enjoyed this action-packed story, set against the backdrop of the 1920s Indian independence movement.

Protagonist Sam Wyndham is an English policeman who’s apolitical, and I enjoyed his comic-accurate cynical portrayal of both Indian proclivities and the British pretensions. But Indians are far more than backdrop, and form vibrant…

By Abir Mukherjee,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Smoke and Ashes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

** A THE SUNDAY TIMES BEST 100 BEST CRIME NOVELS SINCE 1945**

'Smoke and Ashes is Abir Mukherjee's best book yet; a brilliantly conceived murder mystery set amidst political and social turmoil - beautifully crafted' C.J. Sansom

India, 1921. Captain Sam Wyndham is battling a serious addiction to opium that he must keep secret from his superiors in the Calcutta police force.

But Wyndham finds himself in a tight spot when he stumbles across a corpse in an opium den. When he then comes across a second body bearing the same injuries, Wyndham is convinced that there's a deranged killer…


Book cover of The Bombay Prince

Nev March Author Of Murder in Old Bombay

From my list on India blending history with gripping mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived the first 24 years of my life in Mumbai and traveled to many parts of India. I’ve had close friends of every community and religion and been fascinated by the incredible diversity. By studying historical crimes and how they were reported and investigated, I learned a great deal about the norms of Indian culture. Reading (and writing) historical mysteries allowed me to dive into past eras and immerse myself in the tumultuous events that have shaped our world today. While I’m obsessed with the turn of the 20th century, mysteries in later years also delight me. Enjoy this selection of mysteries set in India that reveal the inner workings of its diverse culture.

Nev's book list on India blending history with gripping mysteries

Nev March Why did Nev love this book?

A young woman is found dead only a few yards behind the stands where hundreds of students gathered to watch the Prince of Wales’ parade on his 1922 visit to Bombay. When lawyer Pervin Mistry realizes it’s the same woman who consulted her only days ago, she’s driven by guilt and determined to help the Parsi family through the awful process of the coroner's inquiry.

I started this book with a whole host of questions, which grew more dire as the number of suspects rose. Finely etched characters abound. Pervin is torn between a natural patriotism and desire to see justice and her own family’s interests. As she learns more, she realizes that the young female student has a sort of dangerous honesty (a term the author Sujata Massey used when I interviewed her) which complicates matters and shows the difficulty of being a dutiful daughter while staying true to…

By Sujata Massey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Bombay Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bombay’s first female lawyer, Perveen Mistry, is compelled to bring justice to the family of a murdered female Parsi student just as Bombay’s streets erupt in riots to protest British colonial rule. Sujata Massey is back with this third installment to the Agatha and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning series set in 1920s Bombay.

November 1921. Edward VIII, Prince of Wales and future ruler of India, is arriving in Bombay to begin a fourmonth tour. The Indian subcontinent is chafing under British rule, and Bombay solicitor Perveen Mistry isn’t surprised when local unrest over the royal arrival spirals into riots. But…


Book cover of Riot: A Love Story

Nev March Author Of Murder in Old Bombay

From my list on India blending history with gripping mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived the first 24 years of my life in Mumbai and traveled to many parts of India. I’ve had close friends of every community and religion and been fascinated by the incredible diversity. By studying historical crimes and how they were reported and investigated, I learned a great deal about the norms of Indian culture. Reading (and writing) historical mysteries allowed me to dive into past eras and immerse myself in the tumultuous events that have shaped our world today. While I’m obsessed with the turn of the 20th century, mysteries in later years also delight me. Enjoy this selection of mysteries set in India that reveal the inner workings of its diverse culture.

Nev's book list on India blending history with gripping mysteries

Nev March Why did Nev love this book?

This book is misnamed Riot - A Love Story. But don’t be deceived. In fact it is the tale of an affair gone wrong: Page one starts with a news article about the death of an American student. Solving the puzzle sheds light on the Hindu-Muslim riots in India as well as the underpinning of Indian families and how they view foreign-born individuals.

The book is a murder mystery without a detective, or even a clear denouement. That put me, as the reader before a set of puzzle pieces, each from a different point of view, laid out unflinchingly to draw a picture of enormous betrayal. Murder Mystery readers expect a neat wrap-up at the end and a clean ending. Tharoor has none for us. Instead, murderers pray piously, wearing their religion with a self-righteous smirk. But no, I do not believe criminals go unpunished by the eternal eye,…

By Shashi Tharoor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Who killed twenty-four-year-old Priscilla Hart? This highly motivated, idealistic American student had come to India to volunteer in women's health programs, but had her work made a killer out of an enraged husband? Or was her death the result of a xenophobic attack? Had an indiscriminate love affair spun out of control? Had a disgruntled, deeply jealous colleague been pushed to the edge? Or was she simply the innocent victim of a riot that had exploded in that fateful year of 1989 between Hindus and Muslims?
Experimenting masterfully with narrative form in this brilliant tour de force, internationally acclaimed novelist…


Book cover of The Spanish Diplomat's Secret

Nev March Author Of The Spanish Diplomat's Secret

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author History lover Scriptwriter Reader Nature lover

Nev's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

An entertaining mystery on a 1894 trans-Atlantic steamship with an varied array of suspects, and a detective who must solve his case in six days to prevent international conflict.

Retired from the British Indian army, Captain Jim is taking his wife Diana to Liverpool from New York, when their pleasant cruise turns deadly. Just hours after meeting him, a foreign diplomat is brutally murdered onboard their ship. Captain Jim must find the killer before they dock in six days, or there could be war! Aboard the beleaguered luxury liner are a thousand suspects, but no witnesses to the locked-cabin crime.

Fortunately, his wife Diana knows her way around first-class accommodations and Gilded Age society. But something has been troubling her, too, something she won’t tell him. Together, using tricks gleaned from their favorite fictional sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, Captain Jim, and Diana must learn why one man’s life came to a murderous end.

By Nev March,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spanish Diplomat's Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Spanish Diplomat's Secret, award-winning author Nev March explores the vivid nineteenth-century world of the transatlantic voyage, one passenger’s secret at a time.

Captain Jim Agnihotri and his wife Lady Diana Framji are embarking to England in the summer of 1894. Jim is hopeful the cruise will help Diana open up to him. Something is troubling her, and Jim is concerned.

On their first evening, Jim meets an intriguing Spaniard, a fellow soldier with whom he finds an instant kinship. But within twenty-four hours, Don Juan Nepomuceno is murdered, his body discovered shortly after he asks rather urgently to…


Book cover of Cracking India

Nev March Author Of Murder in Old Bombay

From my list on India blending history with gripping mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived the first 24 years of my life in Mumbai and traveled to many parts of India. I’ve had close friends of every community and religion and been fascinated by the incredible diversity. By studying historical crimes and how they were reported and investigated, I learned a great deal about the norms of Indian culture. Reading (and writing) historical mysteries allowed me to dive into past eras and immerse myself in the tumultuous events that have shaped our world today. While I’m obsessed with the turn of the 20th century, mysteries in later years also delight me. Enjoy this selection of mysteries set in India that reveal the inner workings of its diverse culture.

Nev's book list on India blending history with gripping mysteries

Nev March Why did Nev love this book?

Sidhwa’s book describes the partition of India that formed present-day India and Pakistan. These tortured days and the tragedies and massacres that followed are viewed through the lens of a gentle and educated Parsi family. The narrator is Lenny, a young girl afflicted with polio, whose active observations center on the members of her family and servants. Her eighteen-year-old Ayah and the devotion of the ice-candy man play out against the backdrop of terrible hatred and betrayal, where religious affiliation trumps all, even what some call love, and others, lust. 

This book had me weeping for days. Its simplicity is deceptive. The simple narration from a six-year-old is entirely believable, the confusion of what really happened, and what it means. But the adult me could read between the lines and understand the full measure of tragedy, the horror, the inevitable result. And I was glad that Lenny was too young…

By Bapsi Sidhwa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cracking India as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book: A girl’s happy home life is suddenly disrupted by the 1947 Partition of India in this “multifaceted jewel of a novel” (Houston Chronicle).

Young Lenny Sethi is kept out of school because she suffers from polio. She spends her days with Ayah, her beautiful nanny, visiting with the many admirers that Ayah draws. It is in the company of these working-class characters that Lenny learns about religious differences, religious intolerance, and the blossoming genocidal strife on the eve of Partition.

As she matures, Lenny begins to identify the differences between the Hindus, Moslems, and…


Book cover of Breathless in Bombay

Thrity Umrigar Author Of Honor

From my list on set in Bombay.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Bombay until I was 21. During my teenage years I had a love-hate relationship with the city, mostly noticing its poverty, the pollution, and the crowds. But as a writer, I have come to love the city for its resilience, its sweet toughness, its heartbreaking beauty. I love reading books by other writers that are set in this endlessly fascinating metropolis of 22 million, each with their own story to tell, stories that float in the air in front of us, ready to be plucked and set on paper. 

Thrity's book list on set in Bombay

Thrity Umrigar Why did Thrity love this book?

This collection of short stories by another Parsi writer paints an affection and compassionate picture of the metropolis, as seen from the eyes of its motley crew of residents—a laundryman, a writer, a cab driver. Shroff’s generosity and love for his city come through in every story.

This book, with its powerful evocation of the city and its description of the minutia of everyday life, left me nostalgic and breathless for Bombay.

By Murzban F. Shroff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Breathless in Bombay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2009 Commomwealth Writers' Prize

Shroff's vibrant narratives in this concept collection of 14 stories set in contemporary Bombay feature a range of beautifully drawn characters in fascinating situations: from the laundrywallas' water shortage problems, to the doomed love affair of a schizophrenic painter and his Bollywood girlfriend, to the wandering thoughts of a massagewalla at Chowpatty Beach, to the heart-warming relationship of a carriage driver and his beloved horse. Each of these stories is richly crafted and arranged against the grand chaotic backdrop of life that is Bombay. Shroff's love for his hometown shines through, but so…


Book cover of My Bombay Kitchen: Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking

Darra Goldstein Author Of Beyond the North Wind: Russia in Recipes and Lore

From my list on cookbooks for armchair travelers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been thinking and writing about food ever since I spent a year in the Soviet Union many decades ago and discovered that food is a wonderfully immediate way to enter into another culture. My first cookbook led to a stint as a spokesperson for Stolichnaya vodka when it was first introduced to the US—a fascinating exercise in cross-cultural communication during the Cold War. In 2001 I founded Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, which deepened my interest in culinary cultures around the world. Cookbooks aren't just about recipes. For me, the best ones include personal stories and history that transport you to other realms.

Darra's book list on cookbooks for armchair travelers

Darra Goldstein Why did Darra love this book?

Until picking up this book I knew nothing about Parsi food, a distinctive way of cooking practiced by the descendants of the Zoroastrians who fled Persia for India around the 8th century. And what a cuisine it is! This book engages all your senses, immersing you in the aromas, colors, and tastes of Parsi kitchens. Niloufer King's descriptions are beguiling, her language deft as she evokes dishes like the "wobbly" cauliflower custard of her childhood and its "trembling delicacy," or a hot green chutney that is "raucous" rather than refined. King brings family and friends to life through anecdotes that reveal the long history and continuing evolution of this distinctive manner of cooking.

By Niloufer Ichaporia King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Bombay Kitchen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Persians of antiquity were renowned for their lavish cuisine and their never-ceasing fascination with the exotic. These traits still find expression in the cooking of India's rapidly dwindling Parsi population - descendants of Zoroastrians who fled Persia after the Sassanian empire fell to the invading Arabs. The first book published in the United States on Parsi food written by a Parsi, this beautiful volume includes 165 recipes and makes one of India's most remarkable regional cuisines accessible to Westerners. In an intimate narrative rich with personal experience, the author leads readers into a world of new ideas, tastes, ingredients,…


Book cover of Only the Good Die Young

Anurag Anand Author Of To Hell and Back: Not all Tragedies are Orchestrated by Fate

From my list on Indian crime fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Anurag Anand is a keen observer of humankind. He believes that the diversity of human emotions, motivations, and actions offer him a rich palette of tones to paint his stories with. He is the author of thirteen books across genres like self-help, historical fiction, crime thrillers, and contemporary fiction. Anurag’s works have been lauded for their realism, simplicity, and sharp characterization by readers across the spectrum. Of course, he is an avid reader and likes to remain abreast with the developments in the Indian writing space. He is a familiar face (and voice) in literature festivals, television debates and other related forums across the country.  

Anurag's book list on Indian crime fiction

Anurag Anand Why did Anurag love this book?

There are times when we think that we have successfully buried something in our past and it suddenly resurfaces and shocks us. But what if this ‘thing’ wreaks havoc with our lives and turns it topsy turvy? Only the Good Die Young is a taut and gripping sequel to Akash Verma’s thriller, You Never Know. The book unravels beautifully, quite like a web series playing out between the craftily stitched words.

By Akash Verma,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Only the Good Die Young as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sometimes when you're desperate to leave the past behind, the past is eager to catch up!
Anuradha leaves Gurgaon when Dhruv chooses his family over her. She thinks that chapter of her life has
ended, and starts afresh in Mumbai. But strangely, it seems her past is trying to catch up. Dhruv suddenly
comes back into her life. Even as they try to figure out their relationship, horrible things start happening
to people they know. Together, Anuradha and Dhruv need to find out who it is that cannot bear to see them together. Who is carrying out these shocking crimes?…


Book cover of Bombay Monsoon

D.J. Adamson Author Of Admit to Mayhem

From my list on mystery and thriller you’ll read the entire weekend.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father estranged himself from his sister because she was an alcoholic. I never met my aunt. However, when looking for a strong character for my Lilian Dove Mystery Series, I decided this aunt was a good mentoring character. Fictionally, I gave my aunt sobriety, but her recovery is not so much from drinking as it is recovering from the past to take on life anew. The mysteries Lillian Dove becomes involved her help her see how to do this. And first, she needs to learn to admit life is full of mayhem. Small-town Iowa amateur sleuth who ends up owning a liquor store.

D.J.'s book list on mystery and thriller you’ll read the entire weekend

D.J. Adamson Why did D.J. love this book?

Bombay Monsoon, first book in the new Emergency Series, delivers Ziskin’s talent for blending literary techniques and believable characters while taking the reader on an intense ride.

Journalist Danny Jacobs, young and anxious to make his mark, hasn’t been in Bombay long when he is caught up into intrigue, romance, and danger. Set in India during 1975 when India was shaken with political unrest after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergence, Zisken weaves cultural adjustment along with crime and romance.

The book written by Zisken is an impressive page-turner, thanks to his meticulous attention to detail and insightful knowledge of India.

By James W. Ziskin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bombay Monsoon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The last thing Danny wants to see published is his obituary

The year is 1975. Danny Jacobs is an ambitious, young American journalist who's just arrived in Bombay for a new assignment. He's soon caught up in the chaos of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's domestic "Emergency."

Willy Smets is Danny's enigmatic expat neighbor. He's a charming man, but with suspicious connections. As a monsoon drenches Bombay, Danny falls hard for Sushmita, Smets's beguiling and clever lover-and the infatuation is mutual.

"The Emergency," a virtual coup by the prime minister, is only the first twist in the high-stakes drama of Danny's…


Book cover of A Daughter's Courage: An Utterly Heartbreaking Novel of Family Secrets, Tragedy and Love

Pankaj Giri Author Of The Fragile Thread of Hope

From my list on contemporary fiction that bring tears to your eyes.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an Indian writer of contemporary fiction revolving around family, relationships, emotions, and hope, I am constantly on the lookout for similar novels to take inspiration from them and learn how to build beautiful, well-etched characters and portray heart-wrenching emotions. I love books that make me cry as they give me a fulfillment like nothing else. I love characters that are likable and make me feel a strong connection with them. And I like to write similar characters in my books as well. The readers of my novel The Fragile Thread of Hope have corroborated the same. I live in Gangtok, a hill station in northeast India.

Pankaj's book list on contemporary fiction that bring tears to your eyes

Pankaj Giri Why did Pankaj love this book?

This novel oscillates between pre-independent times in India and the present. It is about Gowri, Lucy, and James, the terrible sacrifices they make, and how they affect their families in the present. I love Renita D’Silva’s descriptions of Indian culture and food, and the powerful emotions her stories trigger in me. A Daughter’s Courage is my favorite book of hers. The sacrifices and dialogues wrenched my heart, the revelation of family secrets astonished me, and the skilled narrative bound me from start to finish. A masterpiece.

By Renita D'Silva,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Daughter's Courage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How much would you sacrifice to save your family?

1929. When a passionate love affair threatens to leave Lucy in disgrace, she chooses a respectable marriage over a life of shame. With her husband, coffee-plantation-owner James, she travels to her new home in India, leaving her troubled past behind her.

Everything in India is new to Lucy, from the jewel-coloured fabrics to the exotic spices. When her path crosses that of Gowri, a young woman who tends the temple on the plantation’s edge, Lucy is curious to find out more about her, and the events that lead her to live…


Book cover of Coolie

Jeremy Seabrook Author Of People Without History: India's Muslim Ghettos

From my list on the daily lives of poor people in India.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child of a worker in the boot and shoe industry of the English Midlands, I have written for more than half a century about poverty in its many guises – from the want and misery of early industrialism in Britain to the modernised poverty of a form of affluence which mimics prosperity without providing either satisfaction or sufficiency. Writing about the landscapes of poverty in the 1980s, I went to India and Bangladesh, and saw there in patterns of urbanization familiar echoes of what we in Britain had experienced. It seems to me that poor people are always poor in the same way, although this may be hidden behind differences in culture, tradition, ethnicity, and faith.

Jeremy's book list on the daily lives of poor people in India

Jeremy Seabrook Why did Jeremy love this book?

This story of an orphan, brought up by an uncle and aunt and sent out to work as a house servant, moved me so much because, although written in the early years of the Independence struggle, nevertheless prefigures the fate of countless young Indians, little more than children who, beaten and mistreated, run away to the closest city and later, to the unforgiving metropolis of Mumbai or Delhi. His life of innocence destroyed and youth blighted, ends at the age of sixteen when he dies of TB. It is harrowing but uplifting.

By Mulk Raj Anand,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Coolie portrays the picaresque adventures of Munoo, a young boy forced to leave his hill village to fend for himself and discover the world. His journey takes him far from home to towns and cities, to Bomboy and Simla, sweating as servant, factory-worker and rickshaw driver. It is a fight for survival that illuminates, with raw immediacy, the grim fate of the masses in pre-Partition India. Together with Untouchable, Coolie places Mulk Raj Anand among the twentieth century's finest Indian novelists writing in English.


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