Whether you found Indian Matchmaking on Netflix cringe-worthy or repulsive, you know it was quite addictive. With women who speak their mind and know what they want and the other extreme of a tiger moms and a mama’s boy, the show had it all as it set out to capture the saga of arranged marriages in India and abroad. If you loved the drama, the romantic chase then here’s a list of 8 books to binge read after watching Indian Matchmaking. The list includes modern adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma and Pride and Prejudice, as well as the glamour and drama of Delhi’s highflying society that ensues in the recently published Destination Wedding. The list also includes books set in Pakistan because we both have pushy mothers and nosy aunties in common among a host of other things. Grab yourself a masala chai because these books are sure to provide you with enough chatpata gossip.
Polite Society by Mahesh Rao
A modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, the book brings to life the subtle nuances of Delhi society and is anything but polite. Ania Khurana, the smart, beautiful but easily bored Delhi girl has the city in her pocket. Between her fleeting thoughts about writing a novel, she finds her real calling in matchmaking. After successfully setting up her spinster aunt she has now moved on to trying her matchmaking skills to find a match for her newest friend, Dimple a young middle-class migrant to Delhi who resembles Austen’s, Harriet Smith. With his keen observations, Rao brings subtle humour to his commentary on the unspoken hierarchies of Delhi and the clash of old money and new money.
Those Pricey Thakur Girls By Anuja Chauhan
If you love Indian rom-com books, you must have surely read Anuja Chauhan, whose fun style and well laid out plots are perfect for a comfort read. In this unconventional drama, Justice Thakur must maintain his sanity in a household with his five alphabetically named daughters who each have a mind of their own. Set in a sprawling bungalow on Hailey Road, New Delhi we met Anjini, the eldest who is married but hasn’t let go of her flirtatious side, Binodini who constantly worries about her children’s inheritance, Chandrakanta who eloped on the night of her wedding and their father’s favourite Debjani who reads the news on Desh Darpan. The novel’s timeline is around the time of the Sikh riots and weaves an interesting subplot around it.
If you like this one then go ahead and read the sequel, The House That BJ Built.
Diary Of A Social Butterfly by Moni Mohsin
Have you ever tried to set up a friend and had it go horribly wrong? Welcome to the life of Butterfly Khan, Pakistan’s most popular socialite where everything obviously revolves around her. Narrated in a series of journal entries where the highlights of her day are her GTs or get-togethers where between complaining about her conniving mother-in-law and gushing over her Janoo(husband) she also finds time to think up suitable patches for half of Lahore’s elites. As Pakistan is making headlines during 9/11 and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Butterfly is unfazed and her only concerns are how this will affect her next foreign trip. While this may sound superficial to the core, Mohsin shows the naivety of Butterfly and the limitations of her social circle.
Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu
Destination Wedding is a week-long big fat Delhi wedding with your who’s who of Delhi as well as a colourful mix of foreigners in attendance. At the wedding, the protagonist Tina, an Indian American is reunited with the entire Das family and her divorced parents who are absorbed in their own second shots at romance, her mother with an American boyfriend and her father with an Indian widow arranged by an online matchmaker. Amidst the hustle and bustle, Tina is also always on the lookout for a good Indian subject for a reality show. (Who knows she could be imagining the next Indian Matchmaking?) The wedding setting lends itself beautifully to a melange of characters who come from old money and act it and a wedding planner thrown in for good measure in this recently released book which received rave reviews.
The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli
When Raina Anand finally succumbs and gives in to family pressure and allows her Nani to arrange marriage proposals for her, she has no idea what she has signed up for. As she fast approaches her 30th birthday which falls on the same day as her best friend Shaya’s wedding she is ready to give the whole arranged marriage set up a shot. She is soon barraged by a series of Nani approved bachelors and after a series of disastrous blind dates, she reaches her wit’s end and will do anything to have her space back. The novel is a wonderful exploration of the experiences of the younger generation Indian immigrant community in Toronto as they straddle between traditions and their modern lifestyles.
Arranged Marriage Stories by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Arranged Marriage Stories is Chitra Banerjee Divakurni’s debut collection of 11 short stories that explore how in Indian immigrant families it is often the space of the home and the family that tries to hold on strongly to cultural values and traditions. The women in these stories are often caught between their own desires and the weight of familial expectations. Banerjee carves out strong women in the Indian diaspora with the inclusion of stories about a proud middle-aged divorcee determined to make it in San Francisco, a young mother who wants to study and work and women on the cusp of major transformations. The book is the perfect antidote to the regressive views of and myths about arranged marriages. The short story form allows Divakurni to show a multiplicity of experiences.
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
A retired and bored Mr Ali sets up a matchmaking business for elite clientele of the Indian community and soon has a steady stream of clients who each have their own quirks and high expectations. Aruna, Mr Ali’s assistant is also of the familiar opinion that we don’t marry for love, love follows after marriage and marriage is not about two people, it’s about two families. Aruna’s own hopes of finding a match for herself are dismal, and Mr Ali is determined to help her. The all too rosy picture portrayed must be taken with a pinch of salt.
Unmarriageable: A Novel by Soniah Kamal
No list on matchmaking is complete without an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice. Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal is set in Pakistan in the early 2000s. The Binat family resembles Austen’s in more ways than one with Mrs Binat leading the troupe with her anxiety to get her five daughters married. The book is a playful take on the colonial hangover and at the same time a critique of the importance given to English, which is the language of power. Alys, the book’s protagonist is an English teacher at the British school of Dilipabad while being a rebel and a feminist on the personal front. Can she escape the societal and familial expectations? Read this humorous modern retake to find out.