Indu Sundaresan, the celebrated Indian-American author of historical fiction, has taken readers on captivating journeys through time, bringing the rich tapestry of India's history to life. Her literary endeavours have earned her accolades and recognition, making her a prominent figure in the world of historical fiction.
Indu Sundaresan was born and raised in India, growing up as the daughter of an Indian Air Force pilot, Group Captain R. Sundaresan. However, tragedy struck the family when her father lost his life in a crash while on duty. Following this devastating loss, the family relocated to Bangalore, where young Indu developed a deep passion for books and literature. Her love for reading and her fascination with history would later become essential elements of her writing.
Indu's academic pursuits led her to the United States, where she pursued graduate studies at the University of Delaware. She earned an MS in operations research and an MA in economics, showcasing her academic prowess and analytical skills. Her academic background would go on to enrich her storytelling with a nuanced understanding of historical contexts and economic aspects, setting her apart in the world of historical fiction.
Indu Sundaresan's literary journey took flight with her first novel, "The Twentieth Wife," a gripping historical narrative that explores the life of Mehrunissa, a young widow and daughter of Persian refugees. Mehrunissa ultimately became the Empress of the Mughal Empire, reigning under the name Nur Jahan. The novel captivated readers with its vivid portrayal of the Mughal era and the incredible journey of a woman who defied societal norms to wield significant influence.
The success of "The Twentieth Wife" led to the publication of its sequel, "The Feast of Roses." This novel delves deeper into the life of Nur Jahan as she exerts her authority during her sixteen-year marriage to Emperor Jahangir. Sundaresan's storytelling prowess shines through as she continues to bring the past to life, enthralling readers with historical authenticity and a captivating narrative.
The third instalment of her "Taj trilogy," titled "Shadow Princess," takes place after the succession of Shahjahan (Prince Khurram). With the death of his chief queen, Mumtaz Mahal, during childbirth, the story focuses on their daughter, Jahanara, who takes centre stage in the intricate politics of the Mughal court.
Indu Sundaresan's literary portfolio extends beyond the Mughal era. Her novel "The Splendor of Silence" is set in a fictional Indian princely state just before Indian independence in 1947. Through her writing, she explores historical events and weaves compelling narratives that resonate with readers around the world.
Indu Sundaresan's contributions to historical fiction have garnered numerous accolades. In 2003, she was honoured with the Washington State Book Award for "The Twentieth Wife." Her dedication to literature was further acknowledged with the Light of India Award for Excellence in Literature, showcasing her impact on the literary landscape.
Indu Sundaresan's literary works include:
"Twentieth Wife" (2002)
"The Feast of Roses" (2003)
"Shadow Princess" (2010)
"The Splendor of Silence" (2006)
"In the Convent of Little Flowers" (2008)
"The Mountain of Light" (2013)
Her enduring contributions to the realm of historical fiction have allowed readers to traverse centuries and experience the grandeur and intricacies of India's history.
Indu Sundaresan's literary talent has illuminated the pages of historical fiction with her evocative storytelling and meticulous research. Her ability to transport readers to bygone eras and introduce them to the remarkable lives of historical figures, especially women who defied societal constraints, is a testament to her craft. With each novel, she breathes life into India's history, making it accessible and captivating for a global audience. As a gifted storyteller, Indu Sundaresan continues to enrich the world of literature with her tales of love, power, and resilience set against the backdrop of India's fascinating past.