Author: Kalyan Ray
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9780143031901
The Empire writes back! Irreverent and witty, Eastwords is a powerful novel that spans ages and continents. East meets West in its cast, both real and imagined, that includes Shakespeare (the Bardshah) and Siraj-ud-Daulah, Oberon and Titania, Robert Clive and Vasco da Gama, Caliban, Puck and Prospero. Deliciously tinged with magical realism, the story comes alive with characters who take on new incarnations as the plot progresses.
The reader is witness to the reinvention of Shakespeare on Indian shores as Puck metamorphoses, and the beautiful Sukumari refashions herself as the witch Sycorax. Even the august Shakespeare and Sheikh Piru, the narrator, perform a shape-shifting dance in this fabulous monsoon-tormented narrative, and we soon discover what happens to Ariel in his new-found freedom, and whether Prospero lives on.
Ray’s intoxicating prose is rife with literary allusions as Sheikh Piru leads us through the story, sharing asides, regrets and private jokes with the reader. Sheikh Piru is at once omniscient and involved, both hapless participant and detached observer, in the great tradition of Vyas himself, who was both the narrator of and a character in the Mahabharata.
Drawn from a variety of sources ranging from ancient Hindu mythology to the literature of Renaissance England, Eastwords is a literary coup d’etat that sets the colonizers and the colonized against a richly dramatic backdrop. Pulsating with tropical intensity and encompassing treachery as well as abiding love, grace as well as redemption, this novel is a rollicking read.
Delightfully audacious…a rare example of literary cross-dressing.
-Kunal Basu, author of The Opium Clerk and The Miniaturist
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