Category Archives: Literary Events

Book Review: Asura Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan

I miss MICA. Yes, I do. It’s not like it was Utopia (In some ways, though, it probably was, compared to real life). People living together in a campus means that there are bound to be the usual jealousies, back stabbings and the constant need to hide your insecurities by pretending to be someone you are not. It’s like an entire zoo of human emotions, in perfect biological balance. Just like society all over.

However, there are lots of things that I thank MICA for. Apart from the friends that I made (the ones of course who stayed till the end) and the great time I had, there are some things that you take away from MICA for which you’d always be in debt. One of them is the conditioning that an institution like MICA provides. The wide range of events happening on campus has something to offer to everyone (if you were intelligent enough to take advantage).

I first heard Anand Neelakantan speak at Reverie, the annual Literature festival hosted by the Literary Committee of MICA in early 2013. He shared the stage with Mallika Sarabhai, for a talk on ‘Mythology through the lens of art forms : Dance & Literature’, which revolved largely around the portrayal of women and the demonization of everything non-brahmin in our religious texts. Here’s a video of the same.

That is how I came to know about Anand Neelakantan’s book ‘Asura : The Tale of the Vanquished’. It was only later that I got a review copy and read the book, co incidentally finishing the book around Dusshera, this year. I was going to write about it on Dusshera, the day being perfect for writing a review of a book on Ravana. But one thing led to another and things in my life (or rather in my mind) became a little chaotic which led to inactivity on this website. But let’s not get into that. By the time  I write this review, Anand Neelakantan’s second book ‘Ajaya’ has already released (Check out the book on Flipkart | Amazon| GoodReads). But then, better late than never!

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Book Cover (Image Source: GoodReads)

Asura Tale of the Vanquished is a story of the Ramayana from Ravana’s perspective. As part of readings for a class on ‘Imagining India’ at MICA, I read this essay by A K Ramanujan, titled ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’ (Yes, it’s the same essay which was scuttled out of the DU syllabus).  No doubt, Anand Neelkantan draws influences from all the different folk versions that exist, of the Ramayana.

The book is written from the point of view of Ravana, alternating in between with a narrative from the perspective of Bhadra, a fictional character who is an untouchable. Bhadra stands for the marginalized common man, filled with all the classic positive and negative qualities embodied by man.

Anand Neelkantan writes an interesting story, in the sense that it portrays Rama as essentially a weak person full of failings, in his bid to be a God while Ravana, even when he is  defeated in the end, somehow emerges as the better person. You end up identifying more with Ravana with all his negative human passions than Rama, an unfair god who society forces you to emulate. Essentially, it brings to light how ‘Sanskritised’ everything is in our religious literature, and how we look for justifications, when we encounter problemmatic episodes (most of them which deal with the caste system and the portrayal of women) in them.

When it comes to the language and writing in general, it is decent enough and certainly not to be regarded as anything more than that. But you should treat Asura as an alternate narrative to that existing in the space of popular literature on mythology and read it for precisely the same reason.

About the book: Asura: The Tale of the Vanquished | Anand Neelakantan | Leadstart Publishing | Fiction | 504 pages | Rs. 250.

Note: A copy of this book was provided by the kind people at Leadstart Publishing, for review.

Literary Events in September

I have always wanted to know about any literary event happening in the city and searched for one place where I would come to know about it. To my dismay, I have never found such a resource. Hence, I will try every month if I can collect news about any literary events or book launches or anything remotely ‘bookish’ that you, my dear readers, may want to know about. Here are some of the Literary Events in September, happening in India :

Literature Festivals

1. Bangalore Literature Festival | 27th-29th September 2013 | Crowne Plaza @ Velankani Park,  Electronics City, Bangalore (Official Website | Twitter | Facebook)

The festival promises to be interesting with a mix of young and old authors attending the event, like Ramachandra Guha, Ashwin Sanghi, William Dalrymple,  Aditya Mukherjee, Kishwar Desai, David Davidar, etc. Heavy weights like Shobhaa De, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Farhan Akhtar and Prasoon Joshi, will up the celebrity quotient. Check the full list of speakers here.

2. Pune International Literature Festival | 20th-22nd September, 2013 | MIT Campus, Kothrud, Pune (Official Website | Twitter | Facebook)

The entire schedule is up on their website and it looks quite interesting with lots of workshops, panel discussions, and even a blogger discussion.

There are also some book launches scheduled during the fest.

Fitness On The Go 

Flipkart|Amazon

 

Abhishek Sharma

20 September 2013

3:45-4:45 P.M.

Pune Lit Fest

It Started With A Friend Request

Flipkart|Amazon

Sudeep Nagarkar

21 September 2013

10:00-11:00 A.M.

Pune Lit Fest

Legacy

Flipkart|Amazon

Sudha Menon

21 September 2013

12:30-1:30 P.M.

Pune Lit Fest

He Loves Me Not

Flipkart|Amazon

Vrushali Telang

22 September 2013

11:15 A.M.-12:15 P.M.

Pune Lit Fest

Book Launch/Book Reading

1. Bankerupt by Subramanian Ravi (Penguin India) | Crossword Kemps Corner, Mumbai | 20th September, 2013 | 5 pm

Pre order a copy of the book on: Amazon

2. Scandal Point by Fahad Samar (Harpercollins India) | Park Hotel, New Delhi | 24th September, 2013

There’s a contest for an invitation to attend the book launch.

Buy a copy from: Flipkart | Amazon

3. The Dream Chasers by Vipul Mitra (Random House India | Crystal Hall of Hotel Sea Princess, Juhu, Mumbai | 26th September, 2013

Buy a copy from: Amazon

4. Ghanta College by Clyde D’souza (Random House India) | Kemp’s Corner, Mumbai | 28th September, 2013

Pre order from : Amazon

5. Mad Girl’s Love Song by Rukumini Bhaya Nair (Harpercollins India) | Oxford Bookstore, MG1 Mall, Bangalore | 20th September, 2013 – 6 pm (Book Reading)

Buy from: Flipkart | Amazon

6. Mothers, Lovers and Other Strangers by Bhaichand Patel (Pan Macmillan) | Oxford Bookstore, Connaught Place, New Delhi | 30th September, 2013 – 4 pm

Buy from: Flipkart | Amazon

7. Mom in the City by Kausalya Saptharishi (Random House India) | Multipurpose Hall, India International Centre, New Delhi | 30th September, 2013- 6.30 pm

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Buy from: Flipkart | Amazon

Giveaways/Events/Workshops

1. Online discussion with Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season  on Goodreads on 19th September, 2013 (Link)

2. The Missing Page – Book Treasure Hunt (organized by Oxford Book Store in association with Random House India) on 21st-22nd September, 2013 | 11 am – 5 pm

3. Treasure Hunt (Part of the Grand launch of ‘The Signature of all Things’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, organized by Bloomsbury Pub and The Telegraph) at Botanical Gardens, Shibpur, Calcutta on September 21st, 2013

4. Participate in the Book Buying Habits Survey and you stand a chance to win a set of 4 of upcoming books: The Lowland, The Dream Chasers, Ghanta College and Marriage Material.

5. Workshop on Writing (organized by Fablery) at Hall A, United School International (USI), USO House, USO Road, New Delhi. (Near Jawahar Lal Nehru University-JNU) on Sept 28th, 2013 (4 pm)

I hope to make this a regular feature, subject to time availability. If you like this, do leave a comment below. I would love some feedback!

Also, if you are an author, publishing house, PR agent, or know about any more events, do write in to me at booksandalotmore@gmail.com.

Note: Information about these events have been collected from various sources like publicists, publishing houses and the internet. I am not responsible if there is any change/cancellation of the event.