Goa is a dream destination for India as well as international travelers. One of the many dream things to do in Goa is to sit on a beach and read. Not a very practical thing to do, but it makes a picture-perfect moment to hold a book, maybe books on Goa, in hand while posing on a beach.
I moved to Goa in 2014. The first thing that I do when I move to a new place is to read a few books to know the place. Till I came to Goa, I had never read a book on this tiny state, not even a travel guide. Every time I visited Goa, we spent the time on the beach, in the markets around the beach before heading back.
As I drove around, walked its villages, adjusted to living in a small town, I discovered many facets of Goa. Still, a lot of what I know came from books I read about this state. So here are my recommendations for some of the books to know Goa.
Non-Fiction Books on Goa
Moving to Goa by Katharina Kakar
Moving to Goa is a dream for many people. The publication of this book was perfectly timed with my moving to Goa. I could relate to every word that the author wrote. If you are planning to move to Goa, this is a must-read book to prepare yourself mentally for Goa. There are a lot of things only those who have moved and lived here can tell you like – You will always remain an outsider here. She also introduces you to the multiple facets of Goa that most outsiders miss like its hinterlands, its community, and its love for its own land and language. You also get a peep into the so-called outsiders’ world that you would be a part of, in case you move.
Goa Gold Goa Silver by Prajal Sakardande
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Dr. Prajal Sakardande is a well-known professor of history in Goa. He has authored this authoritative book on Goan history after 20 years of research. It covers Goan history right from pre-historic times to modern times. A comprehensive book, full of historical facts, most of which are lesser-known as the closer history of the Portuguese era tends to dominate the popular discourse.
Highly recommended for anyone with a keen interest in Goan history – Ancient, Medieval, and Modern.
Hear Prof Sakardande speak a bit about this book.
Goa – A daughter’s Story by Maria Aurora Couto
Maria Aurora Couto belongs to the elite class in Goa, often referred to as royalty in Goa. She was born to Goan parents, though she studied in Karnataka, lived in Bihar before returning to Goa as an IAS officer’s wife who was posted here post Goa’s liberation and merger with India. She tells her story as Goa’s daughter. It is an elite Christian’s view of Goa and Goa’s past. Biases are bound to be there. But, nonetheless, readable.
Green Room by Wendell Rodricks
Green Room was the first book I read when I landed in Goa. What I admired about Wendell Rodricks was his making an international career in the field of fashion while living in Goa. I also envied the fact that he traveled so much. This book is written like a ‘Son of Goa’. He traces his family’s roots to the Hindu Kshatriya community and talks about Goa through his own personal journey of setting up his fashion business here. A long read but insightful.
The Hippie Trail – A history by Sharif Gemie & Brian Ireland
Goa is where the famous Hippie trail of the 1960s and 1970s terminated. This is where a lot of Hippies found a home they did not want to leave. They talk about Anjuna as the world’s largest nudist colony while describing their days living here. A small Hippie community continues to live in those villages in Goa. Tourism in Goa has its roots in the Hippie culture, an image that Goa continues to carry. This fascinating journey connects Goa to the rest of the places on the Hippie trail.
The Goa Inquisition by Anant K Priolkar
This book is for those interested in the serious history of Goa. It talks about the darkest period of Goan history during the Portuguese era based on first-hand contemporary accounts of the times like archival material, travelers’ accounts, and a prisoner’s account. I have read it in bits and pieces. Many historians use this as a reference book for Goan history.
Mario De Miranda Books
Mario Miranda is the signature artist of Goa. His cartoons can be seen everywhere in the state and lots of Goan books that he illustrated. There are books from his travels, books based on his cartoons and books that he illustrated, and books on him. You take your pick from what interests you.
Read More – Mario Miranda All Over Goa
Goa and the Blue Mountains by Richard Burton
Published in 1851, this book has been on my reading shelf for at least 20 years now. I am yet to read it this first book by the famous author who translated Kamasutra. It is a travelogue of the mid 19th CE. Such travelogues are timestamps that capture the destinations in a time frame for the rest of eternity. I hope to read it soon.
Two other very popular books on Goa are Goa Travels and Ferry Crossings by Manohar Shetty. I am yet to read them. Hopefully soon.
Fiction Books on Goa
Teresa’s Man & other Stories from Goa by Damodar Mauzo
Damodar Mauzo is one of the most popular authors from Goa, a Sahitya Academy Award Winner. He writes short stories and novels in Konkani, and most of his works are translated into English. His stories carry the essence of Goa, especially life in its villages. This short story collection takes you through various human emotions and the dilemmas we face on an everyday basis. It brings out the faces behind the masks we all wear. Simple, heartfelt stories rooted in Goa.
The Sea of Innocence by Kishwar Desai
Drugs, Prostitution, Gambling are the underbelly of the Goan tourism economy. As much as the locals would like to deny them or denounce them, it exists. Kishwar Desai in a beautifully crafted story takes you through the web of financial investors, local mafia, and politicians who are also a part of the beaches of Goa. The story may leave a distaste for Goa but it is a page-turner, an absolute thriller.
Poskem by Wendell Rodricks
You have probably never heard this word – Poskem. I had no idea what it is until I picked up this book to read. These are abandoned children that grew up in posh Goan villas and their strange relationships with the families they grow up with. Inspired by real-life stories, this book reveals a side of Goa that most people do not know. It is a very small book that also comes with a lot of Goan recipes. Another reason to pick it up and read.
Let Me Tell You About Quinta by Savia Viegas
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This is a haunting tale about Goan society. It is an insider’s view of how Goans see outsiders and how they keep them strictly ‘outsider’. It also has mystical and paranormal angles that add a layer of mystery to the story set in a pristine South Goan village. Talks about the changes the change of regimes brought in the life of Goans and how the national or global quest to live in a Goan village is impacting them. This is an insider’s story.
Inside/Out: New Writing from Goa – An Anthology
This is a platter of writing on Goa – fiction and non-fiction published by Goa-based publishers. It has stories from Goans, part-time Goans, new residents, and those who migrated out. This is like a potpourri, and you never know what the next story is all about. Some stories are too much rooted in Goa while others take you back in time and some give you an outsider’s perspective. An interesting Mélange to explore.
Afterlife – Ghost Stories from Goa by Jessica Faleiro
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This book could have been written better, but it brings you the ghost stories from Goa. Believe me, there are a lot of them.
Do you know of a great book on Goa that I should read? Tell us in the comments below.
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