Modern-day satire of an ancient Indian epic

Hot reads at The Daily Beast tells about this new interesting book which is a modern-day satire of an ancient Indian epic.

The British travel writer’s first novel satirizes India’s epic Mahabharata in present-day Delhi.

Leela’s Book By Alice Albinia. 422 pp. W.W. Norton & Company. $26

Imagine all the drama, sexual intrigue, and familial discord of the ancient Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, retold in modern times with a satirical twist. This is the premise of British author Alice Albinia’s fiction debut, Leela’s Book, in which Leela—worldly, alluring, and haunted—is moving from New York back to Delhi, decades after fleeing the country and her family.

The occasion for her return is a wedding, and the groom’s father is none other than Vyasa, the Mahabharata’s legendary composer who has prayed upon Leela and her now-deceased sister Meera across various lifetimes (in his current incarnation, Vyasa is a misogynistic, egocentric professor famous for—go figure—his controversial interpretations of ancient texts). Enter the multi-armed elephant deity, Ganesh—the traditional scribe of the Mahabharata—who explains how Vyasa seduced, impregnated and wed Meera. As if there weren’t enough layers in this dizzying tale, we learn that Meera convinced Leela to go to bed with Vyasa, too, but the fallout from their incestuous tryst caused Leela to banish herself from India. Now she and Vyasa are reunited, and Ganesh, the “Remover of Obstacles,” has come up with a plan protect his heroine Leela and uncover Vyasa’s womanizing ways at the wedding.

In Albinia’s parody, Ganesh has his own motivations—he claims he authored the original ancient text, and needs “to influence events, to get my errant characters back on track, to wrest control from Vyasa. And how to do that? Through my pen.” A compelling and wildly entertaining tale unfolds.

Source: The Daily Beast

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~ by eneryvibes on 1,January 15, 2012.

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