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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review : 'The Paradise Flycatcher' by Deepak Dalal

'The Paradise Flycatcher' is another brilliant one of Deepak Dalal’s books, but, this time with a twist. The people take on the book, with the birds catching up too. Rose Garden, the habitation, where it all happens is busy enjoying the breezy morning with the blue, clear sky above. 

Snowdrop, the white headed squirrel, is missing. And it is up to young Mitalee to look for it. Mitalee, who is so used to seeing Snowdrop sitting with all its friends, around the fountain has suddenly, disappeared. 

The usual gang includes the fork-tailed bird, an iora, the bulbul, the magpie robin, as well as the bee-eater, doves, sunbird and a tailorbird, and surprisingly, a couple of sparrows too. Among, all these Snowbird used to sit, but today it was absent.

The birds, which always used to sit at the Rose Garden, seemed to be making their way to the Leaf Garden. All in search of Snowdrop. Mitalee spots Chintu, the neighbourhood boy who is much hated by her. Chintu hated Snowdrop as much as Mitalee loved Snowdrop.

It is Mitalee’s suspicion that the squirrel was kidnapped by the boys. And it is, of course the birds’ suspicion too.

All of a sudden, the birds were discovered by Chintu and his friends, Arjun and Maitreya. The friends were invited by Chintu to attack the birds with catapults. Mitalee warns the boys of harming the birds. She also raises the fact that the boy had stolen Snowdrop, only to be disagreed to, by Chintu.

The next day dawned and Mitalee and the boys are at school. It’s a busy day for the birds too. They are all out searching for Snowdrop. Even the forest was not spared. To be on the lookout for the squirrel, the birds made their way among all the trees too.  

In the meanwhile, Mitalee is told by her friend, Alisha that Maitreya can be trusted. Mitalee is busy that night chatting with Maitreya, when he shows her a link. On opening the link, Mitalee sees Snowdrop being advertised on a website called, PetExotica. The squirrel was sold to the website owners, and they were paying quite the sum and had promised more money to the boys, on the sale of the squirrel.

Deepak Dalal
What would happen now? Will Mitalee trust Maitreya? Would the birds manage to discover, where exactly the squirrel was kept? Would the birds, including Mitalee and her friends manage to free the Snowdrop? Would Snowdrop see his friends, the squirrels and also his rescuers, the birds again in Rose Garden? 

The book is wonderful as ever. The suspense holds good too, as does the discovery of the squirrel. The illustrations by Krishna Bala Shenoi are brilliant too, in fact a little more exotic than ever. Three cheers to the Feather Tales team…

You can Buy the Book, right here.                                     

Friday, February 16, 2018

Author Interview : Utkarsh Patel, author of ‘Kannaki's Anklet' (Part 1)

Utkarsh Patel
Read up, part one of the Interview with Utkarsh Patel, author of 'Kannaki's Anklet'. There are a few authors whom I have liked for a lot of reasons, but this author, is an exception. The magic of the storytelling is repeated here, too. The charm that he takes on, while replying to each and every question is truly brilliant.

He has described the journey of writing and putting together this book, along with the research, he has put in. He has also described why Kannaki was chosen exactly, and he even drew comparison between the epic and his earlier novels, 'Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged' and 'Satyavati', and how he sees the entire book as a tale. More questions in the second part, Folks...

Could you describe the journey of ‘Kannakki’s Anklet’? How did it begin? What kind of research was put into it?

While teaching mythology at the University, a student once asked me, ‘Why are heroes in mythology always men? Were women not seen as heroes or has mythology been partial to women? My studies had shown that except for occasional spark of heroism in a few female characters, one hardly comes across any women heroes.’ 

This set me thinking, and I started researching on myths, legends and folktales with female heroes, till I stumbled upon the Tamil epic, 'Silappadikaram'. I read and reread it and wrote on my Blog about it, and soon enough it took the form of ‘Kannaki’s Anklet’.

Statue of Goddess Pattini (Wikipedia)
Ilango Adigal (Wikipedia)
A lot of research has gone in. To begin with, I read a couple of academic translations of the epic and many discussions on the same. Its cultural relevance, the geographical path undertaken by Kannaki, as mentioned in the epic, its current cult following and how it travelled from India to Sri Lanka, where she is worshiped as 'Pattini Devi'.

Besides this, I also worked on Tamil cultural aspects and the tenets of Jainism, as the author of the epic, Ilango Adigal was a Jain monk and a lot of Jainism has been discussed in the epic.

Why did you choose Kannaki, exactly? How does she compare, exactly to the mythologies, you have written until now?

Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged
One of the main reasons of choosing Kannaki was that she was a very ordinary woman. She was what close to 80% of women in our country still are. She is simple, down-to-earth and her life revolved around her husband and her family.

She is a far cry from many of my earlier heroines, (Shakuntala and Satyavati), who were fiercely independent. They were truly mythical and belonged to Mahabharata.

The book has been compared to an epic. How do you see it, as a book or tale?

Kannaki's Anklet
It is an epic by all standards. As mentioned earlier, it is quite unusual, as all the epics of the world, be it Indian or Western, epics rest on the shoulders of male heroes. 

Here, the hero is a woman, Kannaki, and she is central to the story right from the beginning, to the end. Also, unlike other epics, the other woman, Madhavi, is not painted as a vamp or a negative character. The author has very beautifully brought out her character as a woman helplessly in love. 

It’s rare to find such mature depictions in the lores, from the past.

 You can Read the Review here and Buy the Book right here, as well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review : ‘Till the Clouds Roll By’ by Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond’s ‘Till the Clouds Roll By’ is not just another one of his books. This time, it stands different. Of course, it does have the usual odd friends, which he always gets up to. And yes, it does have a little of the books, which are his permanent companions.  But let us look at them, right from the beginning… 

Starting off, we a find ourselves in a train, headed for Dehradun. Little Ruskin, who is only ten years old, is going there for the winter holidays. Unfortunately, his father had passed away, and that is why he is now headed to his mother’s home. She had married elsewhere.

Rusty, who gets in to Dehradun finds himself all alone at the station. His trip to his granny’s house, and then went on to his house, and his meeting with his fellow siblings are all a part of this bit. There is also his mother, stepfather, the daily help at his home and the book store around the corner. 

The movies he went to, the elephants and the deer and all the animals he saw, and even the big hunting trip, that he was made a part of are all a share of the second part.

Agatha Christie : Wikipedia
O Henry: Wikipedia
Then it happens. The books, he finds come into the third part. And of course, this is an exciting bit, because he seems to find them, at all the odd places. MR James, PG Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, O Henry are only a few of the pretty large collection, he found.  It gets more and more exciting.

But it was only when Rusty sees a leopard, when it got the most exciting. While the tiger hunting party, did not seem to spot a tiger even at a distance. Pakoras, bicycles, cooks, scorpions, vinegar, lichees, Ford V8 are all a part of this book.

Then the young boy, goes into the market, and ends up meeting the first wife of his stepfather, Bibiji. With her, he gets talking and even helps her out with her shop. And Rusty’s pregnant mother gives birth to another boy. Besides that, we also have Mohan, Mela Ram, Regal Cinema, and also a pet parrot to complete the book. 

You can Buy the Book, right here. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Author Interview : Kochery C Shibu, author of ‘Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar' (Part 2)

Read up, the second part of the Interview with Kochery C Shibu, author of 'Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar'. In this part of the Interview, he tells us about his own experiences and how it was related to that was written, the most fulfilling part of writing the book, also advice to writers of today,  along with his favourite authors, Folks...

Could you tell the readers about your experiences and how it was related to what you wrote?

The novel is not an autobiography, but it has definitely been inspired by the people, I have met during the various years that I have worked in the hydroelectric projects.

But the development of the characters was mostly research based…

What is the most fulfilling part of writing a book?

Seeing the novel in print and reading reviews of the readers.
Kochery C Shibu

What is the next book that you have planned?

There are many themes, but not finalised.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

It has been long cherished dream of mine, which I had nursed since the 70s.

Any advice to writers that would like to be published today? How tough is it to be published?

The best way is to write and walk the talk and the path of the writer, the rest would follow.  

Wole Soyinka
Fritjof Capra
Who are your favourite authors?

Which books are you currently reading?

I had stopped reading fiction in 2009, when I started writing this novel, to develop a style of writing that is unique and not influenced by any reading. 

I would start reading only after I complete the next novel. Though, I do other reading of technical books and journals etc.

You can Read the Review, the First Part of the Interview and Buy the Book right here, as well.