Mother and Daughter Writers and the Chola Empire @ BYOB Party in November 2017 (Part 3)

What’s wrong with Indian books written in English? There was a lot of discussion about how some writers do not pay enough respect to the language and how many publishers do not take enough effort to create good standards.

Anita Desai, however, is a writer who does not fall into this bracket at all. Sunny spoke about a classic by her called The Village by the Sea. The narrative is set in a village called Thul, some time in the 1980s and tells the tale of one family in particular. Desai visited this village long enough for her to be known as a regular. “This story doesn’t have a strong beginning, middle and end,” he said. “It just happens.”

Kasturi spoke about a book by Anita Desai’s daughter, Kiran Desai who won the Booker Prize. She was rereading The Inheritance of Loss and after a good six years, her perspective of the book has changed. The story is set in Kalimpong at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas. A retired judge returns here and must face the demons he thought he had left behind. Desai deals with geography, history and characterization in a stylized way. It is slow-paced compared to the crime thrillers that were discussed at the party but it was delightful, a distinct Indian voice.

Anshuman is a history buff and was pleasantly surprised by Devi Yeshodharan’s Empire that tells the little-known story of the Chola Empire, a South Indian kingdom that held sway over South East Asia at one time. The story is told through the eyes of a Greek protagonist, a young woman. Other prominent works of historical fiction in India include the Ibis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh. There were some mentions of books by Ashwin Sanghvi and Amish Tripathi as well.

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