Saturday, November 2, 2013

Book Review: Love & Death in the Middle Kingdom by Nalini Rajan

On the jacket:

A sixteenth century Vijayanagara courtier, Devadatta is drawn into a strange and intoxicating, even forbidden, friendship with a Persian traveller and a Portuguese trader. In a society driven by caste centred norms and pollution taboos, the stealthy love affair between the courtier and the Persian must lead them inevitably into a horrific doom. Centuries later, the courtiers diary, is discovered quite by chance in the Indian west coast town of Honavar by a student of History, Sharat, who translates the tale from its native tongue to English. Along with his female colleague Nitya, from Delhi University, he sets out on an exciting journey into history through the pages of the diary. What happens thereafter proves to be not only a voyage of self discovery but also an exploration of some of the meanings and lessons in history, in life.


Love & Death in the Middle Kingdom is not just a novel about Indian history, but has traces of love, death, relationships and a whole lot more; in the past and in the present. Nitya travels all the way to Honavar, to meet Sharat, who has chanced upon some manuscripts from the past. 

Devdytta, a courtiers has a forbidden relationship of love and friendship with a Persian traveller and a Portuguese trader. We can only imagine in how orthodox the times used to be, how big a taboo such a love must have been. Centuries later, Devdutta's diary is found in an excavation in the town of Honavar. Sharat has found it, and even though now he is into another line of career, but his interest still lies in history. Sharat informs his professor who send his research student Nitya, to find out more and study the diary.

The book is an easy read, can be finished in a few hours. However, it's very informative. Narrated in a very smooth manner, the author, Rajan, has created a very sweet story around the basic theme. Incidents are natural, can be identified with. If you love history, you will find this book engrossing. If you haven't ventured much into this genre, here is a good book to start with.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is on PR request. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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