Best Books by Shashi Tharoor – The Word Painter

Best Books by Shashi Tharoor – The Word Painter

Dr Shashi Tharoor is an author, politician and a former diplomat. Shashi Tharoor is a Lok Sabha MP. Former Minister of State for Human Resource Development in the Government of India and has served as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

Dr Shashi Tharoor is known for his excellence- par work as a writer. He has authored 19 books till now. Dr Shashi Tharoor has built an empirically imperial empire as an author with his ability to put words into perspective. Dr Tharoor has garnered a reputation for being an efficacious orator, and a prolific and respected writer. Fun Fact – Dr Shashi Tharoor completed his PhD at the age of 22?! 

BookArt101 wants to celebrate the reign of Dr Shashi Tharoor exceptional work and thus we list some of his best works here. 

Why I Am A Hindu

“Why I am a Hindu” by Dr Shashi Tharoor was published in 2018 from Aleph Book Company.  In Why I am a Hindu, India’s finest public intellectual, Dr Tharoor, dwells on the core tenet of Hinduism. 

The book, by Shashi Tharoor, is divided into three sections. Dr Tharoor begins with elucidating his own belief in Hinduism and then goes on to expound the core of Hinduism, he as well, dwells deep into the ideologies of the religion and the socio-cultural developments in India that relate to the religion. 

Dr Shashi Tharoor earnestly talks about the soul of Hinduism like Adi Shankara, Patanjali and so on. Time and again, Dr Shashi Tharoor quotes Geeta. He talks profoundly about the Hindu school of thought and its open-ended nature. The repudiation of Hindu nationalism and its rise in Indian society is what Dr Tharoor feels is markedly different from what he had grown up with. 

Show Business 

“Show Business” by Dr Shashi Tharoor is one of his earliest works. The book “Show Business” was published in 1993 by Arcade Publishing. This book is a work of fiction by Dr Tharoor which layers the dazzle of Hindi film industry but in a metaphorical way. 

The book is a formulaic representation of Hindi film industry and its mechanics. The book is a parody which satirises the Hindi film industry using it as a metaphor to raise questions on contemporary ways in Indian society. 

The book “Show Business” is a fictional telltale of Ashok Banjara(fictional character) who rises to fame in the Hindi film industry and then eventually tries his hand in politics. This is an evident sight nowadays. Dr Shashi Tharoor has been read mostly in non-fictional form and that is why some people hesitate to read the fictional form of his writing. But one should read both his works to gain perspective. 

The Great Indian Novel 

“The Great Indian Novel” by Dr Shashi Tharoor is one of his masterfully curated pieces. The book by Dr Tharoor was published in 1989. The book procured so much attention and appreciation due to its satirical tone and well-glued plot. Shashi Tharoor’s book won “Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the Best Book in South Asia and Europe (1900).”

Dr Shashi Tharoor’s debut novel is a work of epic, featuring the story of an epic “Mahabharata.” Dr Tharoor has masterfully recast and reset the Mahabharata with the Indian political events of the 20th century. The fictionalised novel takes a dig at the Indian politics, Indian media and satires it with the fluent Tharoor’s satire. 

Dr Shashi Tharoor has touched the realms of political satire by drawing parallels with India’s freedom movement. The book is a must-read for everyone irrespective of their interest in politics. The book has been weaved in such a way that it is a must-read. 


Shashi Tharoor’s, “Riot” is another great work of fiction. It was published in 2001. “Riot” is a story of Priscilla Hart, which chronicles the mystery of Hart’s death through contradictory accounts of dozens of characters. 

It is an engrossing story of Priscilla Hart, an American student who was murdered in India. On the face of it, Shashi Tharoor’s, Riot, seems to be a murder mystery, and on the obvious level, it talks about havoc or a riot. But on a conventional level, it is a collection of chapters of journals, letters etc. 

Riot encapsulates and addresses the infamous riot. It is directed towards the Hindu-Muslim tension in India with as much subtlety as could be afforded. Dr Shashi Tharoor offers food for thought about the ownership of history, about love, hate, religious and cultural fanaticism. Riot is an emotionally charged and intellectual arousing book. 

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India 

The Inglorious Empire reveals the story of British in India and it provides an insight into the history from the arrival of the East India company till the end of Raj. The book was first published in 2000. Dr Tharoor’s book catalogues the horrors that are left by the British in India. 

The book documents the rapacious side of the British Raj which was thriving on thievery and the pretentious nature of them showcasing their help to lift India from the darkness. Dr Tharoor in his book Inglorious Empire looks at the pros and cons of British rule and addresses the alleged benefits of the Raj. The book is well-researched and is didactic and engaging. Tharoor systematically dissects many of the most fundamental arguments for the British empire. 

India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond

Dr Shashi Tharoor’s, India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond was first published in 1997. This book is a work of nonfiction which weaves around many crucial topics such as caste, democracy in India, partition in India and so on. It gives an account of the history while staying focused on the present and predicting the future. 

Dr Tharoor’s book came from the place of his astute observations which derived a knowledgeable 400 pages of history. Throughout the book as Dr Shashi Tharoor weaves different aspects he simultaneously questions. The book is contrived around a plethora of topics such as caste, Indira Gandhi, democracy, the transition from a socialist economy to a free-market economy and so on. 

Shashi Tharoor then combines all the pieces for the climax, as he argues that all these things together will affect America and other countries. Dr Shashi Tharoor curated a knowledgeable masterpiece. 

An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India

An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Dr Shashi Tharoor was published in 2000. The book provides an explosive account of the disastrous British rule which led to the destruction of “Sone ki Chidiya” (The Golden Bird).

Dr Tharoor has given the acuity and has provided an account of the ruthless British rule in India with impeccable research work. 

Shashi Tharoor, in his book, has marshalled impressive arguments backed by facts to support the destruction caused by British rule. He has argued and presented a well-researched account of an indictment of the British rule. An Era of Darkness is a shocking tale of exploitation and destruction which altered India completely.

Shashi Tharoor also dwells on the various policies in the British Raj, especially “Divide and Rule.” He also presents the facts on how adversely the textile and other industries are affected. It also looks at the question of reparations from the UK. The book is a must-read for anyone remotely interested in Indian history. 

The Paradoxical Prime Minister 

For people interested in Indian politics or politics, in general, must-read Dr Shashi Tharoor’s book “The Paradoxical Prime Minister.” The Paradoxical Prime Minister, published in 2018, takes a dig and examines the tenure of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. 

Shashi Tharoor writes the book in his intellectual capacities and not as the biased member of the opposition. Even though some may argue otherwise. Shashi Tharoor criticizes and applauses the Modi government on various instances throughout the book. The fact that the book is backed by facts and figures speaks that Shashi Tharoor has very cleverly analysed and presented facts. 

In some instances, Shashi Tharoor has also used the original speeches as the yardstick to measure the sheer finesse of the Modi government. Even though, the book obtained criticism due to Shashi Tharoor being the member of an opposition party. But it is one book that people should read, irrespective, to gain both sides of the story. 

The Hindu Way: An Introduction to Hinduism

The Hindu Way: An Introduction to Hinduism by Shashi Tharoor was published in 2019 by Aleph Book Company. The book is derived from “Why I am a Hindu”. The book examines the fundamentals of Hinduism along with the embedded complexities of Hinduism. Tharoor also studies the contribution of Great souls in Hinduism and talks about them extensively throughout. 

Apart from removing and explaining the layered complexities of Hinduism, Shashi Tharoor examines his own belief in Hinduism. The book is an extremely informative one. It is bold and strong and the best part is, it’s not a religious book but it’s something which describes the idea of Hinduism and what it means. The book is more of the perspective of Tharoor’s understanding of religion. 

Nehru: The Invention of India

Nehru: The Invention of India by Shashi Tharoor is an account of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru: The Invention of India was published in 2004. Tharoor paints the secularist and spiritual companion of Mahatma Gandhi in all the brightest colours. 

The book is written in the signature eloquent tone of Shashi Tharoor. He brings alive the era, the characters and the incidents of Jawarharlal Nehru’s time with his utmost poetic and descriptive ability. Tharoor writes a biography of the legacy of Prime Minister Nehru. Simultaneously, Shashi Tharoor also tells the readers about the architect of India. Tharoor has articulated the life of Jawaharlal Nehru through the book. The book was criticized for some believed it to be biased. 

If you enjoyed this blog, you will also enjoy our list of “Best Books by Sudha Murthy”, here.