When leading authors like Aravind Adiga, Jeet Thayil and Amit Chaudhuri were not writing in 2012, they were reading a lot - be it works of Naresh Fernandes, William Dalrymple or Anjali Joseph.
Mumbai-based journalist Fernandes' book "Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay's Jazz Age" topped the reading list of both 2008 Booker Prize winner Adiga and this year's Booker-nominated writer Thayil.
According to Adiga, "Taj Mahal Foxtrot" is a "loving and scholarly tribute to India's pioneering jazz musicians, and the city that they lived and worked in". Two other books he liked were Mustansir Dalvi's new translation of the poetry of Iqbal - "Taking Issue and Allah's Answer" and Gopalakrishna Pai's Kannada novel "Swapna Saraswata"
"Dalvi's translation introduces Iqbal to a new generation of Indian readers. Well written and superbly researched, 'Swapna Saraswata' is the story of how Goa's Saraswat community spread across south India after being forced to leave their homeland during Portuguese rule. It has gone into several reprints in Karnataka, and will be a hit across India if it finds a good translator," Adiga told PTI.
Asked about his top reads during the year, Thayil's list went thus: "Taj Mahal Foxtrot", "Righteous Republic" by Ananya Vajpeyi, "Return of a King" by Dalrymple, "Dom Moraes: Selected Poems" (edited by Ranjit Hoskote), "The Wildings" by Nilanjana Roy, and "Drifting House" by Krys Lee.
Chaudhuri named Joseph's "Another Country", Palash Mehrotra's "The Butterfly Generation" and Anand Thakore's "Elephant Bathing" as his top reads.
'Another Country' is a brief, poetic novel about the attrition caused by, and the inadvertent but radiant surplus gained from, aimless drift. Its subtlety and skill, and the instinct for beauty that marked Joseph's first novel, confirm her unusual and immense talent. 'The Butterfly Generation' is a collection of musings on the young of the 'new India', and the writing is terse and - having originated as journalism - written at considerable speed.
"But it would be a pity if readers didn't pause to notice Mehrotra's great humour and insight, and his visionary impulse - the impulse of one who's aware of inhabiting a cusp in a country's history, and is caught between studying and merging with the effervescent, amoral landscape he's describing. Thakore's second book of poems, 'Elephant Bathing', is hugely pleasurable for its formal accomplishment, its wry
cosmopolitanism, and for the poised way it carries, and is animated by, the painful stamp of human personality," writer-academic Chaudhuri told PTI.
Diplomat Vikas Swarup, whose novel "Q&A" was adapted into the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire", liked reading "Sweet Tooth" by Ian McEwan, "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson and "The Emperor of All Maladies" by Siddhartha Mukherjee, which is "not just a biography of cancer but a literary mystery about the excitement and thrill of scientific discovery".
Anita Nair, the author of "The Better Man", "Ladies Coupe", "Mistress" and "Lessons in Forgetting" listed "The Slap" by Christos Tsiolkas, "The Invention of Everything Else" by Samantha Hunt and "The Book of Barbosa" by Duartes Barbosa as her top three reads for the year.
Jahnavi Barua, whose novel "Rebirth" was nominated for the 2012 Commonwealth Prize and Man Asian Booker Prize in 2011, liked Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka's multiple-award winning "Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep
Mathew", Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole's "Open City" and Janice Pariat's collection of stories "Boats on Land".
Jerry Pinto, writer of "Em and the Big Hoom", enjoyed Eunice de Souza and Melanie Silgardo's voluminous and brave collection of poems - "These My Words: The Penguin Book of Indian Poetry".
"It was lovely to see, within one set of covers, voices from all four corners of the subcontinent and from all strata of society," he says.
Thriller fiction writer Ashwin Sanghi liked "Joseph Anton: A Memoir" by Salman Rushdie, "Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan" by Dalrymple and Brian Weiss' "Miracles Happen: The Transformational Healing Power of Past Life Memories".
Delhi-based German author Roswitha Joshi enjoyed reading "Lucknow Boy" by Vinod Mehta, "Durbar" by Tavleen Singh and "Get to the Top" by Suhel Seth.
"All of them are very informative and written in a spunky style, spiced up by personal anecdotes that not only say a lot about events and the personalities involved in them but the authors and their mental make-up as well. After my recent trip
to Egypt I cannot put down a book called 'River God' written by Wilbur Smith, which had been lying for ages unread in a shelf because I could not gel with an over 600 pages long story set in ancient Egypt," she says