Rain is synonymous with Kerala. As a Malayalee (person from Kerala), I naturally love the monsoon rains. The title itself drew me to the book. This is not just one book. It has many books within it. The book is a mixture of 34 fictional stories, poems, non-fiction, essays, POVs from writers in Kerala, or writers writing about Kerala. Also, all the stories are not about rain.
The book starts off with the first story which tells us about where the rain is born. This short non-fiction account is taken from the book ‘Chasing the Monsoon’ written by journalist and travel-writer Alexander Frater. He recounts how he witnessed the rain being born at the southern-most tip of Kerala. He is at the Kovalam beach with a bunch of weathermen, journalists and other enthusiasts. The south-western monsoon clouds make it’s first landing here and thus the rain is born. This place Kovalam is just about 50 km from my hometown Varkala. Thus we probably see the first monsoon rains in India and never even knew about it.
Next is a short fiction by Shashi Tharoor called ‘Charlis and I’. I loved the way the author has woven the progress of the different castes through the various policies in Kerala. But still, it is a simple, heartwarming story about a few boys. His language is impeccable. On a similar vein is the story ‘A village before time’ by V K Madhavan Kutty. Continue reading
This is the second book of Preetha Rajah Kannan I am reading. I had loved Shiva in the City of Nectar. The book and a few other blogs had inspired me to travel to Madurai during the summer vacations. So, when Jaico Publishing asked me to review this book, I was more than happy to take the offer.
The Hindu religion is full of stories. In fact, in today’s terms, I would call it mythological fantasy. Each story more fantastic than the other. There are the numerous re-tellings, and local village stories pertaining to the Gods. There is so much of religious literature in local languages that we the English readers are missing it. So, I am glad that Preetha has compiled a treasure trove of stories based upon the Tamil writings primarily from the book Sri Kandhapuranam written by Dr. Akila Sivaraman and other sources. So, is this a translation? Not really. The stories are put together following a sequence of events. Back stories are highlighted as and when a character is touched upon. Continue reading
Ponni’s Beloved is the translation of the classic Tamil historical novel called Ponniyin Selvan written at the beginning of the 20th century by Kalki Krishnamurthy. The original book has 2400 pages split into five volumes. The book narrates the story of Arulmozhivarman (later crowned as Rajaraja Chola I), one of the kings of the Chola Dynasty during the 10th and 11th centuries. (Source : Wikipedia)
Being a translation, the plot and story is already good. But, let me add full marks to the translation. A translated book is only interesting if it catches the essence and the mood of the original without sounding like a literal translation. This one is surely well-translated. The notes and ready pointers to meanings made it easier for reading the book. In the e-book, it was easy to navigate to the meanings and get back to the story.
Before reading this book, I was not aware of its Tamil origins and had never heard about it. It reinforces my faith that we should have more translations of regional books. It is not possible to know all languages but why should we not be able to read good literature. Follow the hashtag #ReadTranslations for more translated works.
Women have always pulled down other women. Personally, never seen men do such things. The world would have been a much different place if we were more united and supportive of each other.
The lines below are from the book ‘Pyre’ from one of my favourite authors, Perumal Murugan. The hero, Kumaresan elopes with Saroja and has an inter-caste marriage. A newly married couple full of dreams and love go to live in Kumaresan’s village. But Kumaresan’s old mother Marayi is not happy about it. First, it is an inter-caste marriage, second she is from a city and doesn’t understand village life of farming and third, there was no dowry. Marayi feels Saroja is as useless as a pretty picture hanging on a wall. She is just good to look at.
One of the visiting women gossiped, ‘As soon as he got a wife, he made an enclosure for her to bathe in. All these days, he had a mother. She never got a private spot like this.’
‘Can a mother and wife ever be equal?’ retorted another woman.
The book is translated from Tamil (Tamizh) by Aniruddhan Vasudevan. He had also translated Perumal’s award-winning book Madhurobaagaan into English. Perumal’s writing is rich with regional accents and simple in its narration but complex in highlighting the nuances of mundane lives. Have you read his books?