This is in response to the wish of Armchair Guy to know more about modern Hindi writing. However, I hope this will interest all those who take any interest in Indian creative writing of any language.
I am not an expert in Hindi writing, though I am its unabashed fan, so following qualities distinguish my recommendations.
This list is completely biased, full of omissions, not at all objective and shows my personal whims and quirks, and sometimes, lack of knowledge. I like to keep my views uninfluenced by what critics say, and am extremely skeptical of Prizes and awards. I believe that many writers are great simply because people are too afraid to criticize them due to a hallowed status that these authors enjoy; and some writers are relegated to the background because very few actually took the trouble to praise them. Another reason for their anonymity could be that they were too great for their contemporary times.
Consequently, many a times we have to bear with average writers who are considered great until somebody comes forward with enough courage to calls the sham; and many really great writers are given quiet burials without their getting the fame they deserved. So, the fame is not to be equated with greatness.
Having said this, here are my recommendations for modern Hindi writers, along with some of their more famous works.
Acharya Chatursen –
Novels – Vaishali Ki Nagarvadhu, Vayam Rakshamah
Jai Shankar ‘Prasad’ –
Poetry – Kamayani, Aansoo, Lehar, Jharna
Drama – Chandragupta, Dhruvsmwamini, Janmajeya Ka Nagayagya, Ajaatshatru, Samudragupta.
Short Story – Akashdeep, Indrajaal (‘Akashdeep’ and ‘Goonda’ are my personal favorite short stories)
Sumitra Nanadan Pant –
Poetry – Gunjan, Pallav, Geet Hans, Chidambara
Mahadevi Verma –
Poetry – Neehar, Agnirekha, Neelambara, Saandhay Geet, Deepshika.
Memoirs/Essays – Ateet Ke Chalchitra, Smriti Ki Rekayen.
S H Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’ –
Poetry – Bawara Aheri, Hari Ghaas Par Kshan Bhar, Indradhanu Raunde Huye Yeh, Mahabriksha Ke Neeche, Sagar Mudra, Aangan Ke Paar Dwar, Kitni naavon Mein Kitni Baar.
Novels – Shekhar – Ek Jeevani, Nadi Ke Dweep.
Short Story – Chhoda Hua Raasta, Latati Pagdandiyaan (Anthologies)
Essays – Aatmanepad, Likhi kagad Kore, Jog Likhi, and many others.
Travels – Ek Boond Sehasa Uchhali, Are Yayavar Rahega Yaad
Experimental – Bhavanti, and one other cannot remember the name.
(He was nominated for Nobel Prize in the year that H G Welles won it. Both of them made to the final list. Between 1961 and 1964 he held the visiting faculty position at Harvard and Berkley Universities. Was also a visiting professor at Heidelberg University, Germany. He, along with Jaishankar ‘Prasad’, took Hindi to unprecedented heights! Recently came across a book on his works – “The Quest Of Ajneya” by Roger Hardham Hooker. Is on my ‘to be read’ list.)
Jainendra Kumar –
Novels – Tyagapatra, Sunita, Muktibodh
Hazari Prasad Dwivedi –
Novels – Charu Chandralekh, Baan Bhatt Ki Atma Katha
(Somewhat difficult language, but extremely beautiful narration. Worth the effort.)
Raangeya Raghav –
Novels – Kab Tak Pukaroon.
Phanishwar Nath ‘Renu’ –
Novels – Maila Aanchal, Part Parikatha.
Stories – Maare Gaye Gulfam (Teesri Kasam), Thumri.
Novels – Rati Nath Ki Chachi, Nai Paudh, Balchanama, Baba Batesarnath.
Poetry – Satrange Pankhon Wali, Aakhir Aisa Kya Keh Diya Maine.
Memoirs – Rinjal Dhanjal, Van Tulsi Ki Gandh, Pehli Kranti Katha.
Essays – Anam Hinam Kriyanam.
(Both the above use a language that is full of delightful local flavor.)
Dharmaveer Bharati –
Novels – Sooraj Ka Saatvan Ghoda.
Drama – Andha Yug.
Mohan Rakesh –
Drama – Aadhe Adhoore, Lehron Ke Rajhans, Aashadh Ka Ek Din,
Rajendra Yadav –
Novels – Sara Akash, Ukhade Huye Log.
Stories – Chhote Chhote Taj Mahal, Abhimanyu Ki Atmahatya.
Krishna Sobti –
Novels – Dilo Daanish, Zindagi Naama, Daar Se Bichhudi, Mitro Marjaani.
Mannu Bhandari –
Novels – Aapka Bunti, Mahabhoj.
Usha Priyamvada –
Novels – Pachpan Khambhe Laal Deewarein.
Stories – Itna Bada Jhooth, Zindagi Aur Gulab Ke Phool, Meri Kahaniyaan.
Novels – Parchhaain Naach,
Stories – Ek Apavitra Ped, Khargosh, Laal Kaner Ke Phool.
Novels – Jungle Jahaan Shuroo Hota Hai.
Stories – Aarohan.
Apart from the above, works of Amrita Pritam and Firaq Gorakhpuri are also worth reading, who are as popular if not more, in Hindi as in their own languages (Punjabi and Urdu).
So, that’s that, hope it whets the curious soul’s appetite.
Suggestions and comments are welcome.
(Can anybody tell me how to publish the above list in Devanagari (Hindi Font)?)