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The Kaunteyas Paperback – 28 Nov 2016
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About the Author
Madhavi has published two collections of short stories, Paltan Tales (Indialog, 2005) and Doppelganger (Alchemy, 2014). The Kaunteyas is her first novel. She has also written fiction for children. She lives in Bangalore.
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Mahadevan's lucid storytelling had me riveted and I could scarcely put the book down. It had me engrossed from start to finish, as her characters came alive on the pages, fleshed out by her elegant prose. For me, what was irresistible was in being able to hear the voices of those who have been silenced, whose stories have never been told fully, within the traditional parameters of the epic narrative. In privileging Kunti's voice to be heard, Mahadevan adds new dimension to her character and unlocks the richness of her journey, compelling us to see her in a completely new way, and not just as a side-note to the overwhelmingly male centric narrative of the Mahabharata.
Reading The Kaunteyas is not just an encountering of the familiar in a completely new way, but it is also about coming to an awareness of the depth and richness of women's stories. In Mahadevan's able hands, Kunti's voice rings loud and clear, changing the shape of the familiar.
I can't recommend this book highly enough!
The unique voices she has given to the many different characters engaged me from the early chapters. Even the minor characters come alive through the lively and interesting dialogues. As for the protagonist Kunti, this is a Kunti never seen before. I've always known the Mahabharata from traditional media over the decades; however, this perspective, made it so much more real.
The dilemmas that the characters encounter, the choices they make and why they make them are some of the most gripping reads within The Kaunteyas.
Personally, as a woman married to an officer in the armed forces, where tradition is respected , as are rules, the book questioned some of my assumptions. Entering the mind of the main character compelled me to probe these beliefs! It made me wonder whether women in our society have had quieter ways of rebelling in the past, rather than resort to bra-burning. This book shows how these ways may have worked.
I highly recommend this book as a must-read.
In her novel, Madhavi Mahadevan, provides a truly refreshing perspective of the epic Mahabharata, enlarging the mytho-fiction genre. By giving a voice to Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas(one of the two warring sides), she provides a fresh perspective. Kunti's voice is a first in Indian writing in English. All through the three stages of her life, as (foster) daughter, wife and single mother, it remains consistent and true as the narrative unfolds.
This is a tale of an Indian woman and her family. About rivalry and its devastating effect. Love, loss, longing, secrets, guilt, abuse, anger, poverty and wealth - it has everything.
Ms Madhavi Mahadevan, in this well researched, beautifully written, gripping novel, tackled an unexplored dimension of this most-read epic. Carefully reading between the line of the Itihas, she has extracted a point of view capable of tugging at the heart strings and setting in motion an internal debate on the “Right versus Wrong” dilemma that holds sway over modern man.
Today the collective wrongs of a predominantly patriarchal world are slowly being brought to light, one at a time, through various initiatives aimed at highlighting the plight of women who suffer silently as consequential emotions within them are least understood by the ‘Alpha clan’ of society and therefore left unattended. The fact that every endeavour to bring about gender equality and justice is fraught with resistance and general inertia can be explained by this fresh look at our great epic, from the emotional viewpoint of the women folk in it. Unmistakeably the locus emerges in the long drawn time frame this societal injustice has prevailed under a grip of reinforcement over the eons. What comes out in stark contrast however is the inner strength and capability displayed by the ladies, portrayed in the Mahabharat, and their characterisation as guiding lights to righting societal wrongs.
The fact that Ms Madhavi Mahadevan has been able to delve into the hearts of these ladies and bring out yet another hidden facet of this epic, tells of great amount of hard work and dedication along with a deep understanding of collective human nature and its influence on societal justice. One of the first tests of a just culture is the ‘substitution test’ wherein we put ourselves into the shoes of the person being judged, to determine culpability. If the aim of the book is to render a ‘substitution test’, then this fabulous piece of literary creation more than amply fulfils it. The flow is smooth and descriptions lucid, hence very little imagination is required to understand the direction of arguments without breaking the flow of non-stop reading pleasure.
A must read for every discerning book lover, grab your copy now!
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The events are all common knowledge, but the narration is very well strung together.Read more