Books about the Caste System

By Coll Rowe | May 22 2024 | LiteratureHistorySociology

Here is a collection of titles that delve into the caste system in India that includes fiction, non-fiction, and history.

A Burning
A Read with Jenna Pick
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize
$16.00 US
Jun 29, 2021
304 Pages

Coming Out as Dalit
A Memoir of Surviving India's Caste System (Updated Edition)

Born into a “formerly untouchable manual-scavenging family in small-town India,” Yashica Dutt was taught from a young age to not appear “Dalit looking.” Although prejudice against Dalits, who compose 25% of the population, has been illegal since 1950, caste-ism in India is alive and well. Blending her personal history with extensive research and reporting, Dutt provides an incriminating analysis of caste’s influence in India over everything from entertainment to judicial systems and how this discrimination has carried over to US institutions.

$29.95 US
Feb 06, 2024
264 Pages
Beacon Press

The Origins of Our Discontents
The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
$21.00 US
Feb 14, 2023
544 Pages
Random House Trade Paperbacks

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity

Winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction • In this breathtaking book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport.

$19.00 US
Apr 08, 2014
288 Pages
Random House Trade Paperbacks

The Billionaire Raj
A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age

A colorful portrait of India’s new billionaire class and its role in a radically unequal society.

$17.00 US
Jul 02, 2019
416 Pages


With precision, vitality, and a fury that earned him praise as India’s Charles Dickens, Mulk Raj Anand recreates in Untouchable what it was like to live on the fringes of society in pre-independence India.

$16.00 US
Jun 24, 2014
176 Pages
Penguin Classics

Ambedkar: India’s Crusader for Human Rights

This beautifully illustrated biography tells the story of Babasaheb Ambedkar, an untiring crusader for human rights for the oppressed untouchables of India.

$16.99 US
Aug 06, 2019
176 Pages

The Trauma of Caste
A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition

Dalit American activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan puts forth a call to awaken and act, not just for readers in South Asia, but all around the world. She ties Dalit oppression to fights for liberation among Black, Indigenous, Latinx, femme, and Queer communities, examining caste from a feminist, abolitionist, and Dalit Buddhist perspective.

$18.95 US
Nov 15, 2022
296 Pages
North Atlantic Books

Annihilation of Caste
The Annotated Critical Edition

B.R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste is one of the most important, yet neglected, works of political writing from India. Written in 1936, it is an audacious denunciation of Hinduism and its caste system. Ambedkar offers a scholarly critique of Hindu scriptures, scriptures that sanction a rigidly hierarchical and iniquitous social system.

$29.95 US
Feb 16, 2016
416 Pages