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Deciphering Mythology – Guest Post by Piyusha Vir

Piyusha Vir

 Piyusha Vir

Couple of weeks back, I had posted my Book Review of “Dashavatar: Stories of Lord Vishnu” authored by Piyusha Vir. Here is the link to the post:

http://anupamadalmia.com/2020/01/13/book-review-dashavatar-stories-lord-vishnu-piyusha-vir/

Piyusha Vir was gracious enough to write this brilliant, insightful and incisive post for my blog on deciphering mythology. Hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I did. Do pick up her book if you haven’t already!

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It is true that the Hindu mythology, especially the two epics written, are among the greatest pieces of literature that exist in India. They have captured the imagination of a gigantic number of writers, painters, lyricists, film-makers, and of course, the audience.

It isn’t without reason that we just can’t have enough of these mythological stories. The relevance, truth, and contextual interpretations contained in them cannot be denied. The stories hold meaning even today, thousands of years later. And yet, we have no idea who wrote these stories and how they got passed on with such unfailing regularity.

While we do believe that Valmiki and Vyasa were the original creators, the fact is no such archaeological proof exists that it is they who deserve the full credit. If the events actually did occur, it would make them a part of history and not mythology. Besides, facts don’t have different versions. The many different takes and versions that exist for our epics are enough to make one’s head reel. There is one section of society that believes that the events did actually occur and find corresponding evidence to corroborate those claims. I personally feel these are nothing but the result of someone’s outstanding creativity and imagination.

Book Review: Dashavatar – Stories of Lord Vishnu by Piyusha Vir

Dashavatar

Author: Piyusha Vir

Published By: Readomania

Purchase Link on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.in/Dashavatar-Stories-Vishnu-Piyusha-Vir/dp/9385854860/

Review

You are anxiously waiting for the announcement of the next book from an author. The day finally arrives. You are delighted, only to realise that the book is written in a genre you rarely read. I might be going against the tide here, but mythology has never piqued my interest. I watched Ramayan and Mahabharat as a child on television because it was a family ritual. Whatever I know about this subject is based on the tidbits I heard from my grandparents and parents during my growing years. For me, it was about bonding through story-telling rather than my curiosity to delve further into this space.

However, something within prompted me to pick up “Dashavatar: Stories of Lord Vishnu” with an open mind and I am more than glad I did. This book is author Piyusha Vir’s second outing as a solo author and I am amazed at the leap she has taken – as a writer, as an observer and as a thinker. As is already evident from the title, Dashavatar is a collection of 10 short stories – each dedicated to an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Among the 24 avatars, the author has chosen to write about the 10 avatars which have captured the interest of human race the most.

Book Review – From Another Land by Tanushree Ghosh

From Another Land

 

Book Details

Author: Tanushree Ghosh

Publication House: Readomania

Amazon purchase link:

https://www.amazon.in/Another-Land-Making-Home-Dreams/dp/9385854739

Review

Once in a while, there comes a book which compels you to read and re-read it because there is so much more to it than what is visible on paper.  “From An-other Land: Making home in the land of dreams” by author Tanushree Ghosh is one such book which made me ponder, wonder and surrender to peel its layers and read between the lines. The theme of the book is all the more relevant in today’s times post the 2016 US elections.

Book Blurb:

Given the chance, would you be ready to immigrate? A majority would probably answer ‘Yes’. Yet, immigrants are looked at with either contempt or segregation and rarely compassion, in their motherland and abroad. Post the 2016 US elections, the rhetoric is further reverberating. From cancellation of refugee protection, zero tolerance and undercurrent crackdown on H visas to racism, profiling and discrimination—the resurgence of nationalism is hitting the globalised population head-on. But what is immigration today? A question of life or death. A fleeing of persecution. A compulsion. Or a mere pursuance of privilege. And, what is USA today, especially for Indians? From An-Other Land is a reality check and an emotional guide for anyone who wants to understand modern-day immigration to USA.

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When my husband and I were in Australia on a long term IT project, he was keen to settle down there whereas I wanted to return to India. My kith and kin were quite surprised that I was blissfully letting go of an opportunity to live abroad. But, I always had only one thing to say – “Everything is great here but it does not feel like home.”

My elder brother is in the US with his family for many years now and they have all obtained their American citizenship as well. Though we have never spoken about this subject openly, but I am aware that they feel a sense of belonging there and are pretty much content with their lives in the American land. Hence, I do understand and relate to the essence of this wonderful book which is a collection of short stories told from the point of view of varied characters.

Book Review – The perils of being moderately famous

An excerpt:

The Perils Of Being Moderately Famous is a refreshing, breezy and compelling read. It is a heart-warming collection of personal essays from the various walks of life of the author. I have often wondered about how it must be to be known as someone’s sister or someone’s daughter or someone’s sister-in-law, and this book answers all this and more.

What works

The sincere, unassuming and clever style of narration is sure to win your heart. The author has recounted all the poignant moments of her life with utmost candidness, and has sprinkled the writing with dollops of humour as well as deep emotions.

Book Review – Nothing but the plane truth

An excerpt:

Nothing But The Plane Truth serves as an eye-opener for those who harbour such a shallow and ludicrous mindset. It shatters all the myths about the life of a cabin crew member, and brings to fore the challenges and struggles which lie beneath the veil of glamour and thrill. Authored by Pinky Eppaturi who has been a flight attendant with two international airlines and a qualified Human Factors and Behaviors trainer, this is a fictionalized memoir based on true incidents from her life, but with the use of alternate names for all the characters.

Book Review – Louisiana Catch

Louisiana Catch

Book Details

Author: Sweta Srivastava Vikram

Publisher: Modern History Press

Available for purchase at the below link:

https://www.amazon.in/Louisiana-Catch-Sweta-Srivastava-Vikram-ebook/dp/B0793N3ZTR/

Review

“You never asked to be raped. Biology works differently. So what if your body responded; your mind didn’t! He violated you…”

A sexual abuse survivor who I was once counselling told me about how she was accused of “enjoying her rape” because she had an orgasm, even though she kept screaming her lungs out to stop the perpetrator from committing the heinous crime. Thoughts of her ordeal make me shudder even today. So, when I read the above line in author Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s latest novel Louisiana Catch, it hit a raw nerve. It made me sit up and applaud the author’s gumption and valour to talk about issues which most would prefer to bury under their carpets.

This line actually encapsulates the essence of the novel which is an honest, uninhibited, sensitive and courageous story of a woman whose journey about finding her inner strength in the face of adversity will indubitably touch your heart.

Plot summary

Ahana is a 33 year old modern woman from New Delhi who is struggling to come to terms with her divorce. The toxic relationship has impacted her deeply, and just when she begins to pick up the pieces and move on, tragedy strikes again. She loses the most important person in her life who has always been her anchor in times of distress – her mother. Her life seems to be in shambles, and in order to escape it all, she takes up the responsibility of spearheading a feminist conference in New Orleans.

Two men enter her life at this vulnerable juncture and while one of them seems to be a friend she can open up to, she feels offended by the other’s bawdy sense of humour and ostensibly flirtatious demeanour. But, are people always the way they appear to be? Does the grief-stricken and distraught Ahana unearth the vigour from within to trust and love again? And most importantly, can Ahana break free from the gloomy labyrinths she feels caged in as a survivor of sexual violence?

What works

Realistic and relatable characters

I was mighty impressed with the way the author has fleshed out each character in the novel. They not just contribute significantly to the plot but are convincingly portrayed.  In Ahana, the author has created a protagonist who will make you experience a myriad of emotions just by the way she is. You will find yourself rooting for her, cheering for her, shedding tears with her and smiling with her. She could be anyone you know. And while the story is narrated from her perspective, you get to know as much about every other character in the tale. They are the kind of people we meet in our daily lives, bringing their own unique flavour to the novel.

Book Review – A Season for Dying: A Vikram Rana Mystery (Vikram Rana Series Book 2)

A Season for Dying

Author: Sharmishtha Shenoy

Amazon link for purchase:

http://www.amazon.in/Season-Dying-Vikram-Rana-Mystery-ebook/dp/B06Y3LZ76F/

The good thing about reading a novel from a new author is that you enter its world without any preconceived notions or conjecture. With “A Season for Dying: A Vikram Rana Mystery”, my mind was a blank slate as I plunged into it and I was in for a pleasant surprise. Since childhood, I have always devoured thrillers with a detective as a protagonist. Be it the classic Indian Television series “Karamchand” or the iconic “Byomkesh Bakshi”, the associated memories are still clearly etched in my mind. I am glad to share that in Vikram Rana, Ms. Shenoy has created a detective character which has the potential to be in the same league as these glorious detectives we have cherished during our growing years. The “Vikram Rana Investigates” series is set in the city of Nizams (which probably made me connect to this book all the more being from Hyderabad myself) and “A Season for Dying” is the second installment in this series.

Book Review – Onaatah of the earth

Onaatah

Book Details:

Author: Paulami DuttaGupta

Publisher: Readomania

Available for purchase at the below link:

http://www.amazon.in/Onaatah-Earth-Adapted-National-winning/dp/9385854224

//This review has been published by Women’s Web in their “Book Reviews” section and is available at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/05/book-review-onaatah-of-the-earth-paulami-duttagupta/

Review

“But then in life we all have a permanent blindfold on and yet we pretend to be safe.”

It is lines like these that make “Onaatah of the earth” an engrossing, sublime and enlightening read, which lingers in your mind for a long, long time.

When you pick up a book that narrates the tale of a rape survivor, you expect to be drowned in a pool of tears by the end of it and imagine yourself to be in a melancholic mood for hours after you have closed the book. For this very reason, there is a section of people who avoid reading books on this subject because they feel they do not have the guts to stomach such stories. But, what if I tell you that I had a broad grin on my face after I completed reading the story of Onaatah and felt a deep sense of contentment? Well, that is where “Onaatah of the earth” stands out from all the other books dealing with the issue of rape and succeeds in making a vital point without being preachy or gory or overtly dramatic.

Based on a National Award winning Khasi Film written by Paulami DuttaGupta, who has also authored this book, “Onaatah of the earth” is an uplifting and relatable account of a rape survivor who stands up for herself in the face of adversity and emerges out of it, stronger and wiser. Exactly 4 years back, I had begun my journey as a social activist and I interacted with quite a few survivors of sexual assault while working on their rehabilitation. Some of them are my good friends today and hence, this book hit close to home. As I read through Onaatah’s journey, I discovered a bit of each of those survivors in Onaatah.

Book Review: Birds of Prey

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// This review has been published in the “Book Reviews” section on Women’s Web. Below is the link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/04/birds-of-prey-book-review/

I am an ardent follower of author Archana Sarat’s Saturday Shots. So, when I got to know about the launch of her debut novel, I was keen to read it. The day I received the novel, I was already in the midst of reading another one of a different genre. Hence, I decided to park “Birds of Prey” aside till I completed the current one. But, the book cover and the words of appreciation from Jitesh Pillai, the editor of Filmfare, made me curious and the plot, as I figured from the synopsis, compelled me to read the prologue. The pacy and intriguing prologue kept me hooked and the twist at the end of it caught me unaware. From then on, the book was unputdownable for me and I just could not stop myself from turning the pages to find out how the story unfolds. Thankfully, the universe conspired to help me read the book at one go by making my toddler fall asleep right when I began to do so.

“Birds of Prey”, a publication of Readomania, is based on the rampant issue of child sexual abuse which makes it very socially significant. The grim and heart-breaking truth is that it is probably happening somewhere as I write this review. It’s an uneasy coincidence that the day I got my hands on the book was the same day when the recent incident of child sexual abuse at a famous preschool in Bangalore had shaken us all up. Having worked as a volunteer with a NGO that rescues and rehabilitates human trafficking victims, I have some experience in counseling the victims of child sexual abuse and hence, have had a glimpse into the minds of the little ones impacted by it. This makes me a bit wary about reading a book on a related subject because I wonder if the issue has been sensationalized or handled with maturity and depth. However, the good news is that this fast-paced, brave and, at times, stomach churning novel has largely been successful in not only sensitively handling the topic, but also in delving into the mind of the victim.