Monday, 2 February 2015

Kim's Review : Asura

Asura is actually the first published book of Anand Neelakantan who wrote Ajaya - Epic of the Kaurava Clan (a book I had loved, earlier last year). Asura is the Ramayana from Ravana's perspective.

I had bought this book long before I bought Ajaya, but hadn't gotten around to reading it and ended up reading Ajaya (even though it was just the first of 2 books and the second one still hasn't been published) before Asura. I'm glad I did.

If I had read Asura first, I may never have dared to pick up Ajaya. The simple fact of the matter is that being the authors first book and self published (my copy) - it needs quite a bit of editing. Reading a badly edited book, is frustrating for me because as a one time editor and one time lecturer, I find I then begin to focus on spotting the errors, rather than letting the story wash over me.

Coming to the story itself, it is very interesting and its a completely new perspective. I sent the Hindi translation to Brajesh's dad and he was quite disturbed as to how an author could say that Rama was flawed - maybe I shouldn't have sent him this book, because it does shake the core of your beliefs and could be quite upsetting if you take your beliefs seriously.

However, just because he questions Rama's actions, he doesn't conversely put Ravana on a pedestal either. Anand's Ravana too is flawed and egoistical and naive and suffers from human frailties.

Bhadra is an extremely interesting character. He keeps appearing (almost Forrest Gump like) at the most opportune (or inopportune moments) and he too is instrumental in moving the narrative further. To me Bhadra is a bigger hero in this book, than Ravana himself.

At times Asura gets extremely philosophical and drags a bit. There were many times, that I considered dropping the book, but the perspective kept me hooked.

Asura has a lot to offer, but it also needs a good editor to trim, prune and polish the story just a little bit to keep the reader completely engrossed.

Rating : 2.75 / 5

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