Writing a short story, perhaps, is the best possible way to explore sensibilities, emotions, hopes, despair and many things… in short… without indulging the readers for a prolonged period of time. There were the Russian masters who did it wonderfully and a few were English as well. However, in India, the art seems to have ceased to impress beyond a few names that we can count on our fingers. Nevertheless, among the contemporary authors, there are a few who venture to walk beyond the conventional frontiers and explore the art of writing short stories with full conviction, devotion, and, perhaps, a mastery as well. I have read a recent collection of short stories written by Dr Prema Raghavan, Eve in the Land of Kali. The title, before everything else, instantly strikes the conscious with so many ideas gushing to come alive, one after another. In this article, a book review, I will try to recollect my reading experiences.
If you carefully read the short stories in this collection by Prema, you will be compelled to take a note about the protagonist in the all these – girl, woman, women (at times) who are looking for solace, identity, recognition or just a balance. Moreover, if there are two seemingly protagonist-like characters, it will be very difficult for the readers to identify with one certain person. You will read a few short stories with this do-not-tilt setup and it’s welcoming to see the fictional tension that the author has been successfully able to create in the mind of the readers as they read the stories. So, on the front of protagonists, the short story collection stands up to the expectations.
Life-like plots & day-to-day themes:
Eve in the Land of Kali does not involve readers into something special, extraordinary or heavenly when it comes to the plot, theme or the issues that the collection deals with. Dr Prema Raghavan has dealt with the events that occur almost daily, frequently and commonly in our lives. For example, almost every day, a son might come home with his girlfriend without notifying his parents, to their surprise. Almost every day a girl might feel like she is ignored or not attended to because of her appearance that’s not as beautiful as someone else in the family. There might be a needy family with an operation pending on a family member because of a disease… So, the issues that fuel the themes and actions that form the plot are very common and thus, involve the readers very closely.
Language, narrative and the ‘fiction’:
Language is an important factor when we talk about literary creation. Eve in the Land of Kali comes with many things to appreciate as has been done in the sections above. However, Dr Prema Raghavan’s book cannot be fully praised until we discuss her language, narrative, storytelling and her overall art of fiction in a separate section. A flowing description of every single emotion that may arise in the heart of a protagonist… an indulging detail that may capture the attention of the readers in many ways… language used by Dr Prema is subtle, embellished and almost striking the doors of those late Victorians like Hardy and the earliest of the Indian authors like Narayan, and I am saying it with full conscious.
“The actual journey took three days by train. There were no air-conditioned compartments in those times, and so we travelled first class. The compartment was not built along a corridor as it is now but was like a large room, with four berths and an attached toilet. There was also a personal attendant like a genie, who you could conjure up at will. The railway meals tasted delicious because of sheer novelty, but the best was yet to come.”
To conclude the things mentioned above, about the work Eve in the Land of Kali and also the writing of Dr Prema in general, I would like to point that her language involves the readers and gives them an opportunity to extract delight from the sentimental equilibrium that she creates with the realism that she fuses with imagination in the perfect proportion. You may love one character and start loving another at the same time, on several occasions. About the overall impression, it may be said that Eve in the Land of Kali must inspire the readers to look beyond the usual, written these days, and for the author, it must inspire her to write more.
You can get a copy of the short story collection from Amazon India in paperback or Ebook format and enjoy reading what many others have enjoyed already! Click the link below to get a copy right now:
Review by Amit for Indian Book Critics
Eve in the Land of Kali by Prema Raghavan – Book Review
- IBC Critical Rating
This is a language-rich collection of short stories that involve female protagonists in various walks of life with many issues involving their ambition, will, desire, longing for space and respect… a must-read collection that will delight the readers and ask them to think, more and more!