Capital Reading List: 5 Books that will Make You Fall in Love with Delhi

Apart from being the capital of India, Delhi is a thriving hub of culture, history, and literature. Naturally, it has stirred many a creative mind over the years. Kunzum offers you a reading list on the capital. By Paridhi Badgotri

Mirza Ghalib, while reflecting on his time in Delhi, wrote:

“Ek roz apni rooh se poochha ke dilli kya hai, to yun jawaab 
mein keh gayi, ye duniya maano jism hai aur Dilli uski jaan.”

(One day I asked my soul what Dilli is. The answer she left me with was that if the world is a body, then Dilli is its heart.)

Delhi has its own sets of strengths and weaknesses, from finger-licking street food to polluted winter air, but what impresses people from all walks of life is its captivating history and rich literature to thriving culture. For understanding what it means to be in the capital, Kunzum offers you a reading list for the city of the heart, Dilli!

A Capital Reading List

A City Happens in Love by Ravish Kumar

Eminent journalist and writer Ravish Kumar gives crisp and powerful stories of lovers who discover the city of Delhi in DTC buses, the campus of Delhi university, and underneath flyovers. Delhi is cast in a unique mould, one of building and shattering relationships, in the hands of Ravish Kumar.

A City Happens in Love, by Ravish Kumar

City of Djinns by William Dalrymple

The travel writer in Dalrymple takes you on a whirlwind tour of Delhi’s streets, while flirting with his love for medieval India. In the citadel of Feroz Shah Kotla, he meets his first Sufi, who tells him that Delhi is a city of djinns. From the Mahabharata to violent riots, Dalrymple weaves a riveting travelogue around the city, covering the enigma of the city in all its facets.

City of Djinns, by William Dalrymple

In Custody by Anita Desai

The Booker-shortlisted novel In Custody takes you on a search for identity in the city of Delhi. The dying art of Urdu poetry creates a sense of emptiness in the protagonist, Deven. Desai emphasises on his void of identity that makes itself felt throughout the book as Deven meets a personal hero of his.

In Custody, by Anita Desai

Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali

Twilight in Delhi is a jaunt through some historical upheavals of India as seen in the capital. It paints the landscape of an evolving country—its social, political, and cultural climate changing with colonialism. First published in 1940 in Britain, the book is a great read for anyone interested in pre-Independence India. It offers a full immersion into the sights and sounds of Delhi of that time.

Twilight in Delhi, by Ahmed Ali

Delhi by Khushwant Singh

While various writers have tried to describe their immense love for Delhi, Khushwant Singh was always outspoken about his love-hate relationship with the city. He emphasises on the political and social climate of Delhi in this historical fiction. Travelling through time, the novel is a vast, erotic, and royal account of the city. 

Delhi, by Khushwant SIngh

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