Photo copyright and credit: Madhu Menon.

Nilanjana S Roy is the author of two novels, The Wildings (2012) and The Hundred Names of Darkness (2013), and a collection of essays on reading, The Girl Who Ate Books (2016). The Wildings won the 2012 Shakti Bhatt First Book Award and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and the Tata First Book Prize. She writes a weekly column for the Financial Times’ Life & Arts section.



Her columns on reading and translations have appeared in the Business Standard; she was a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times in 2013-2014. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in Granta, Al-Jazeera, The Huffington Post, the BBC, the Caravan India, the Kolkata Telegraph and Outlook, among other places.

She is the editor of an anthology of food writing, A Matter of Taste, and has contributed to other food and travel writing anthologies. She has worked in publishing and was chief editor at Westland Books. She often writes on free expression and censorship issues.


She lives in Delhi and is married to Devangshu Datta. They are jointly owned by three demanding cats.

7 thoughts on “About

  1. Read Hundred Names in a straight four hours (in the train back from Jaipur; since I really couldn’t find space or time to read much in Jaipur itself this weekend) and loved it..slightly less than Wildings but that always happens to the younger sibling. My problems – I couldn’t understand why the Mara’s senses and the cats network didn’t stretch into the Golf Club if it could stretch all the way to Paolim, why was Magnificat so important to Mara and why darkness being your friend was so important to the plot?

  2. In a cafe I read your Oct. 2/3 FT comments. Went for hike up Mt. Tzouhalem, then to Alderlea Farm for dinner. Engaged momentarily with couple over antics of a sulking child. ”Where,’ I asked of the mother, ‘are you from?’ ‘India.’ ‘Oh, I was just reading a column by an Indian writer.’ ‘Who?’ I showed the mother the column; she chuckled. I indicated I [not a literary critic] might send a critique to the author. Mother’s response: ‘Mention,”You’re not from La Martiniere in Calcutta, are you?”‘ The parents are visiting from Tibet, They’re teachers, probably still with the Krishnamurti system. Anyway ‘Is it necessary … to shape real life into fiction? Yes;’ all fiction … draws from the truth., or it has no life to it.’ Couldn’t one also say that non-fiction does the same? Aside from protecting the innocent, what is it about moored-in-reality, and skillfully altered facts that is valuable? I think that novelists like anyone else are inquirers after meaning … meaning deemed interesting and valuable. The biographer renders a life but may bring extra meaning to the subject, for to any subject there is extra meaning. Any enterprise may need that dimension to have life. Your column has me thinking. Thanks! Peter

    1. Dear Peter,

      My apologies for responding so late – I missed seeing about 20 comments in the Pending folder, and everyone who wrote in must have wondered why I hadn’t replied! To answer your question: yes, I am from La Martiniere! On fiction versus non-fiction – you’re very accurate on the shaping that goes into both kinds of writing. I must find the exact quote, but in one of Van Gogh’s letters, he writes that painting is not about translating reality – that would not be enough, to make an exact copy, one must go beyond towards a deeper meaning. As with art, so with writing.

      Many thanks,


  3. I am a fan of your column in the FT and enjoyed your 11-12 February article elucidating some of the greatest painters of the Mughal period. I am a London-based dealer in Indian miniature paintings, sourced from European and American collections, and you might be interested to look at our eighth annual exhibition as part of the New York Asia Week in March, where we will exhibit Indian Court Painting, spanning the Mughal and Rajput traditions as well as some Company School examples. As well as the traditional British, European and American collectors and museums who buy in this area, the last five years has seen a growing number of cognosenti from India. See http://www.asiaweekny.com and our catalogue will be uploaded on our own website towards the end of this month, http://www.forgelynch.com

    1. This is such a late response, I’m sorry – I missed seeing some of the comments that had been posted. Thank you for letting me know about your work, though. I’d be happy to tell friends in London about your exhibitions and catalogues.

      Best wishes, Nilanjana

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