Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Review: Shiva in the City of Nectar by Preetha Rajah Kannan

Title: Shiva In The City Of Nectar
Author: Preetha Rajah Kannan
Publisher: Jaico Books


Oft-told tales retold with uncommon verve, Preetha Rajah Kannan’s collection of fifty-four divine tales from ancient India titled ‘Shiva in the City of Nectar’ caught my attention from the word go. It has everything going for it—prose that beautifully encapsulates both the fantastic and the mundane; deft storytelling that folds and combines various facets of Lord Shiva and a strong focus on South Indian mythology. The airy tone and quick-facts presentation renders the book enough potential.

The narration sweeps across Heaven, Earth and the Underworld, narrating the exploits of the mysterious and powerful blue-throated god. One after another, the tales unfold the follies of ancient devas, asuras, sages, men and mythical beasts. And through them all, Shiva blithely takes on the guise of beggar, saint, monarch, merchant, fisherman, hunter, warrior and woodcutter as he walks through the three worlds to slay rampaging demons, perform his Dance of Bliss and embrace good and bad alike. Shiva is portrayed in all his multi-faceted mystique - the tender lover who woos and weds Goddess Meenakshi, the eternal Guru who dispenses wisdom, the fierce avenger whose third eye flashes fire, the generous benefactor who showers blessings on his devotees and, above all, the gentle prankster who embodies the essence of Vedic faith.
Shiva is a God who has truly transcended time and space. He is Mahadeva – greatest among Gods. His legends exist and have survived for eons. This book is a treat for all who find mythologies and ancient legends fascinating. Madurai – the city of nectar – is the prime location for all the tales. Lord Shiva is its ruling deity. The stories are also weaved around the ruling kings of Madurai like king Ukkiran, Abhishegan, Raajasekaran, Vikraman, Sekkaran and Rajaraja among others. The book celebrates the episodes starting from Meenakshi’s coronation to the goddess’ celestial wedding and beyond.

In her own words, Kannan has, for the most part, taken the treasured tales that have been passed down orally for generations, and fleshed them out with the lavish play of an affectionate imagination. Her aim is to bring the stories of Shiva’s divine play to a larger, non-Tamilian audience in the hope that her narration would thrill the readers’ senses and pull them to Madurai – a city where the Gods once walked amidst mortals.

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Author Bio:

Preetha Rajah Kannan is a housewife,who loves to read and write. Her entire school life was as a boarder at Sacred Heart Convent, Yercaud. She went on to graduate in Psychology from Women’s Christian College, Chennai and has an M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from Madurai Kamaraj University. She has done several freelance articles for the Madurai edition of the New Indian Express, and written more than a dozen short stories for children for the Express School Magazine. Her story,‘The Tale of an Ice Cream,’was one of the winning entries in the – Penguin online short story contest, and was published by Penguin in the anthology, ‘Blogprint.' Another short story, ‘Moving Out,’ was published as part of the anthology, ‘Two is Company and Other Stories,' published by Unisun. She lives in Madurai, with her husband and two sons.

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I'd like to thank the author for letting me review her book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

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