Dr Prema Raghavan, who has been indulged in teaching literature and training the teachers who teach literature, has come up with a wonderful short story collection – Eve in the Land of Kali. There are 12 short stories in this collection and most of them tempt the readers to believe in ‘being the best’ and this feeling, to be precise, lasts only until a reader finishes the next story… and eventually the collection itself. However, one thing is very clear. Eve in the Land of Kali, as a collection of short stories, stands tall compared to many other collections by Indian authors that I have read this year. It has a unique thing – the sensibility of fiction.
In all these short stories, other than very attractive, detailed and wonderful narrative (language and storytelling combined), one thing that will be a common thing to find out is the presence of a woman at the centre of the plot. All 12 short stories have female protagonists and everyone is different within her own rights, circumstances and compulsions. It begins with father-daughter nostalgia and then we have a woman trying to settle down in the glimmer of Mumbai mirrors. The readers will also find a pair of girls, Supriya and Priyanka, who grow up together without too much admiration for each other. There is a story about a girl who thinks she is not as beautiful as others in her family and that’s why she is ignored… however, her grandfather introduces her to Jatayu and her feathers are stretched thereafter… Themes vary from this to that part of life but all these short stories will entice the readers to think as if they are reading something about someone they know. Realism is there in the storyline, plot as well as in the characters.
Dr Prema Raghavan’s style of writing, overall, will impress the readers more if they have read before. However, even the readers who are new to reading or the concept of ideal, sensible and classical literature will find this short story collection very profound. There is nothing that lags behind. Language, as I highlighted earlier, has been rendered to the best possible perfection and it exactly matches the situations whatever they might be. Prema seems to have found a parallel word from her lexicon for every inch of her short stories! And once the emotions find a perfect match in the language, literature certainly becomes more than what could be, just, read:
“Their equation was not of equals, the power in the relationship was skewed, in his favour. They had met when she invited him for the party she threw, after ably defending her doctoral thesis in the viva-voce. He was her supervisor’s husband; suave and debonair, she either glimpsed him in his BMW or gracing the dais as a guest of honour. That, however, to use a cliché, was history. They were destined to meet again, and yet again.”
The detail, the description, the complexities of the mind, complications in the emotions… everything is visible as the readers go through these lines – a relationship that is way beyond definition – what ‘a’ thinks cannot be thought by ‘b’. And the entire collection is full of such wonderful lines by Prema. So, the readers who love a work of literary art for the language will have many occasions to appreciate the author!
To conclude, I would say that Eve in the Land of Kali is way beyond a mere collection of short stories. This is something that will communicate the issues related to women and, at the same time, will also keep the readers of fiction alert, delighted and compel them to think. I would recommend this book to everyone for many different reasons that have been explained above (the major ones). However, one thing that I would like to say at the end before I sign off, is that any reader who reads modern Indian fiction and finds the usual play of love triangle or sexual excesses should read this collection of short stories to get out of the ‘usual’ casuals and meet some real literature by an Indian author! You can get the book in a paperback or Ebook format from Amazon India by clicking the link below:
Review by Ajay Shiv J for Literature News
Eve in the Land of Kali by Prema Raghavan – Book Review
- Literature News Rating
Eve in the Land of Kali by Prema Raghavan is a collection of 12 wonderful short stories with women protagonists at the centre… and you will not only appreciate the issues she raises but also love the way she has done it… a complete fiction, almost… a must read by all means!