The great indian novel - sashi tharoor

Let’s see why Shashi Tharoor’s Great Indian novel – book winning every heart, Although written way back in 1989, this book still represents and warns of the ills still prevailing in our society. The author, an eminent MP from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, wrote about the condition of India from somewhere around the 1900s to the Indira Gandhi era up until the 1980s and beautifully intertwined it with India’s ancient epic Mahabharata.

About Writer – Shashi Tharoor

GREAT INDIAN NOVEL - Book review writter -Shashi Tharoor
GREAT INDIAN NOVEL – Book review writter -Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor (born 9 March 1956) is an Indian politician, journalist, and former foreign diplomat from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, who has served as a Member of Parliament since 2009. Formerly the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Also, he was contestant in 2006 for the position of Secretary-General.

Furthermore, the Chief of the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology and of the Congress of All India Professionals. He was previously the Chairman of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations (2014 to 2019). In 2019, during a non-fiction class in English, Shashi Tharoor won the Sahitya Academy Award for his novel An Period of Gloom.

In addtion, known for some famous books like Paradoxical Prime minister and many others!

About Book

In his book GREAT INDIAN NOVEL, Sashi Tharoor has masterfully recast the 2000-year-old epic( hilarious? Isn’t it!), The Mahabharata, with futuristic but widely familiar incidents and characters from twentieth-century Indian politics In an award-winning, critically acclaimed GREAT INDIAN NOVEL book.


Shashi Tharoor directs his hilarious satire toward Indian foibles also because of the bumbling of British administrators, chronicling the Indian fight for liberty and independence from Great Britain.

Great Indian Novel Summary – No Spoiler Alert!

All characters in the book are those from Indian National Struggle, but their names are changed to those in Mahabharata. So, In the great Indian novel book review let’s see more. Firstly, Gandhiji became Gangaji, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru became Dhritarashtra, Indira Gandhi became Priya Duryodhana, and so on.

Sashi Tharoor depiction of characters as Mahabharata
Shashi Tharoor depiction of characters as Mahabharata | source – amazon

The storyline begins with the birth of Ved Vyasa, who wrote Mahabharata with the help of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. However, the characters do not possess god-like powers but are mere politicians and freedom-fighters.

After that, the story goes about their normal life in Hastinapur. Then the real story begins when Gangaji (or Gandhiji) resigns from his position in Hastinapur fort and opts for a saintly life, leaving his family and wealth behind.

After this, almost the entire storyline goes almost as it would in the freedom struggle, only the name changed and additional fictional characters from Mahabharata like Pandavas, Kunti, and some others included.


Perhaps, some would say this book is nothing but a mixture of Mahabharata and the freedom struggle. But it’s not the story that appeals to the readers. Instead, it’s the reality and relatability of India behind it.

sashi tharoor quote from Great Indian Novel
Shashi tharoor quote from Great Indian Novel

Even though a work of fiction, any history student would find it amusing and strangely genuine of Indian conditions. I’d recommend this book to anyone who has some knowledge of Indian history.

For others, this book is as charming as any other fiction work. Plus, it’s easy to read. Nothing like classic literature works of Homer and William Shakespeare. If you know enough English, you can read it without having to look every time in the dictionary.

Controversy – defamation act

As we Know, The book narrates the story of Mahabharata within the context of the Indian independence movement and therefore the earlier decades of Independent India.

If your creativity depicts religion than this is not “Being Creative”


The defamation case was brought by an individual called Sandhya Sreekumar, who charged that by depicting them in bad light in his 1989 book ‘The Great Indian Novel,’ a satirical novel that mocks the political class in India, Shashi Tharoor defamed women of the Nair community.

The controversial lines from the book are,

“The men of the Nair community in Kerala realize that their wives are liberal to receive them by seeing if the slippers of another man aren’t outside her door.”

When lecture his wife Kunthi, King Pandu of Mahabharata, the father of Pandavas, speaks these lines. it’s alleged that by placing the declaration into the mouth of Pandu, Tharoor intentionally sought to defame Nair people.

My Rating on a scale of 0 to 10

As always Sashi Tharoor seems creative in this also. The way he described history by correlating with Mahabharata is just incredible and out of the box!! So, I’d rate it from one to 10, I’d easily give it 9 points. Also because it was probably the first work of fiction by an Indian author in decades to find a place among international bestsellers. And everyone must read this book!

Other Books by sashi tharoor
Other Books by sashi tharoor | source- HotDeals360

So, that was all about The Great Indian Novel. If you’ve read it, tell us about your own experience in comment section. If not, give it a try.

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