6 Indian Books about Sex You Must Read
Historically, India was a pioneer in sexual education through art and literature. India is responsible for masterpieces like the Kama Sutra and the Khajuraho Group of Monuments. Although colonization and its legacy brought more puritanical attitudes to sex that linger these days, some amazing Indian authors are keeping true to their roots and producing raunchy reads about sex in modern India.
Here are a few of our top choices for Indian books about sex:
1. Summer in Calcutta – Kamala Das (1965)
Award-winning author Kamala Das’s first book, Summer in Calcutta is a collection of poignant poems that talks mainly of love, betrayal and the resultant pain. These poems are hallmarked by its candid treatment of love and sex and the author’s quest for self. Das’s open and honest treatment of female sexuality, free from any sense of guilt, infused her writing with power and made her an iconoclast of her generation.
Passage we love:
When I asked for love, not knowing what else to ask
For, he drew a youth of sixteen into the
Bedroom and closed the door, He did not beat me
But my sad woman-body felt so beaten.
The weight of my breasts and womb crushed me.
I shrank Pitifully.
Then … I wore a shirt and my
Brother’s trousers, cut my hair short and ignored
My womanliness. Dress in sarees, be girl
Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook,
Be a quarreller with servants. Fit in. Oh,
Belong, cried the categorizers. Don’t sit
On walls or peep in through our lace-draped windows.
Be Amy, or be Kamala. Or, better
Still, be Madhavikutty. It is time to
Choose a name, a role. Don’t play pretending games.
Don’t play at schizophrenia or be a
Nympho. Don’t cry embarrassingly loud when
Jilted in love … I met a man, loved him. Call
Him not by any name, he is every man
Who wants. a woman, just as I am every
Woman who seeks love. In him . . . the hungry haste
Of rivers, in me . . . the oceans’ tireless
Waiting. Who are you, I ask each and everyone,
2. Kari – Amruta Patil (2008)
They were inseparable – until the day they jumped. Ruth, saved by safety nets, leaves the city. Kari, saved by a sewer, crawls back into the fray of the living. She writes ad copy for hair products and ill-fitting lingerie, falls for cats and roadside urchins, and the occasional adventuress in a restaurant. As Danger Chhori, her PVC-suit-clad alter ego, she unclogs sewers and observes the secret lives of people and fruit. And with Angel, Lazarus, and the girls of Crystal Palace forming the chorus to her song, she explores the dark heart of Smog City – loneliness, sewers, sleeper success, death – and the memory of her absentee Other. Sensuously illustrated and livened by wry commentaries on life and love, Kari gives a new voice to graphic fiction in India.
Passage we love:
I play with fruit that the girls and I are too broke to buy. Avocado, kiwi, mangosteen. There are some fruits you do not want to venture into alone. A peach, for one, creature of texture and smell, sings like a siren. A fruit that lingers on your fingertips with unfruitlike insistence, fuzzy like the down on a pretty jaw. Figs are dark creatures too, skins purple as loving bruises. A fig is one hundred per cent debauched. Lush as a smashed mouth. There, I said it again: Lush.
3. India in Love – Ira Trivedi (2014)
India in Love: Marriage and Sexuality in the 21st Century is a ground-breaking look at the sexual revolution that is beginning to sweep through urban India. Bestselling author Ira Trivedi travelled from Shillong in the northeast to Chennai in the south, Konark in the east to Mumbai in the west, and over a dozen other cities and towns, in order to gain unprecedented insights into changing sexual mores, marriage and love in the 21st century.
Passage we love:
The sex revolution does not just concern the physical act of sex. It is about changing laws, about loosening censors, and about more sexual liberty. It is about seeing women choosing to wear what they want and about accepting gays in our communities. It is about the burgeoning prostitution industry and pornography. It is about escaping hypocrisy and realizing we are making change happen. Above all, it is about exposing an entire generation to a heavily sexualized culture which is seeping into their lives.
4. Exiles – Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla (2011)
A sensual and searing exploration of desire, infidelity and faith, this lush novel draws inspiration from archetypal Hindu mythology and romantic Sufi poetry, evoking unforgettable characters to explore how with a new world come new freedoms, and with them, the choices that could change everything we know about those we thought we knew, including ourselves.
Pooja Kapoor, a betrayed wife and mother, begins to question her beliefs and marriage when she discovers that her husband Rahul has fallen in love with a young Muslim man. Lonely and desperate for divine intervention, she is forced to confront painful truths about the past to make sense of the present.
Narrated from the perspective of the wife, husband and lover, The Exiles is a classic tale of love and loss set in Kenya, India and finally, Los Angeles where it culminates in an epic conclusion.
Passage we love:
Atif clasped Rahul’s hand tightly, held it close to him, against his thudding chest, as if in that grip they held a common heart. He shook with grief, his tears unbounded. He cried now not only for the love that he knew Rahul felt for him, but also the loves that he had lost, for his mother and father, all the rejections he had suffered up until now, and the realization that when at long last, love had arrived, it had been so that he would be able to neither claim nor keep it.
5. Sita’s Curse – Sreemoyee Piu Kundu (2014)
Somewhere, behind closed doors, in her solitary world; somewhere, under the sheets with an indifferent lover; Somewhere, is a woman who will not be denied. Trapped for fifteen years in the stranglehold of a dead marriage and soulless household domesticity, the beautiful, full-bodied and passionate Meera Patel depends on her memories and her flights of fancy to soothe the aches that wrack her body; to quieten an unquenchable need. Until one cataclysmic day in Mumbai, when she finally breaks free… Bold, brazen and defiant, Sita’s Curse looks at the hypocrisy of Indian society and tells the compelling story of a middle-class Indian housewifes urgent need for love, respect, acceptance and sexual fulfillment
Passage we love:
With one hand between her breasts, Meera dragged the cushion upwards; her lips quivering in the dull heat under the darkness of the rezai. The rains were coming down harder. She smelt them up close, her eyes closed. Like a blind man smiles softly at the sunset… smiles from a place inside. Taking a deep breath, Meera positioned herself carefully against the cushion, pushing harder against it… faster, faster… feeling her insides give way like boats washed away at high tide.
6. Queering India – Ruth Vanita (2001)
Queering India is the first book to provide an understanding of same-sex love and eroticism in Indian culture and society. The essays focus on pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial gay and lesbian life in India to provide a comprehensive look at a much neglected topic. The topics are wide-ranging, considering film, literature, popular culture, historical and religious texts, law and other aspects of life in India. Specifically, the essays cover such issues as Deepa Mehta’s recent and controversial film, Fire, which focused on lesbian relationships in India; the Indian penal code which outlaws homosexual acts; a case of same-sex love and murder in colonial India; homophobic fiction and homoerotic advertising in current day India; and lesbian subtext in Hindu scripture. All of the essays are original to the collection. Queering India promises to change the way we understand India as well as gay and lesbian life and sexuality around the world.
Passage we love:
To ‘come out,’ in other words, is to ‘go out;’ a process that requires the emotionally hazardous barter of a cultural heritage for a sexual community. Is this necessary, or true?