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Mythical heroes

Epical icons are revamped as modern heroes in Indo-Anglian books to lure young readers.

books Updated: Sep 19, 2010 01:12 IST

Rama, Ravana, Arjuna, Jesus Christ, Lord Shiva, Ganesha and the epics are becoming fodder for contemporary Indo-Anglian literature. Writers say it is a new way of looking at Indian culture and draw young readers.

The reprint of two popular titles — The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathy and The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi last month —brought the gods from their heavenly abodes to combat on earth. The books have been published by Westland.

Amish Tripathy retells a folkore from Jammu and Kashmir — the descent of Lord Shiva in his blue-neck Neelkantha avatar from Tibet to Meluha — a modern-day Indus Valley city. Shiva descends with his warriors to save the city.

Sanghi spins a murder mystery around the supposed grave of Jesus Christ at the Rozabal shrine in Kashmir.

Three new fiction, viz., The Ganesh Scripture by Alice Albina, The Golden Sacrifice of the Mahabharata by Maggi Lidchi Grassi and Kalika and Dimna: The Panchatantra Retold by Ramsay Wood published by Random House this year, use Ganesha, Vyasa, Arjuna and mythical demons to narrate gripping stories.

“People normally write about things steeped in our culture. I think it is very natural that they will write about gods,” said award-winning writer and MP, Shashi Tharoor, whose seminal work, The Great Indian Story was a contemporary re-telling of the epic Mahabharata in the context of Indian polity.

This week, New Zealand-based fantasy fiction writer David Hair, who has been exploring the country and studying scriptures since 2007, published his first Indian title, Pyre of the Queens from his new The Return of Ravana adventure series. It has been published by Penguin, India. Ravana is reincarnated as the modern-day sorcerer Ravindra Raj in Hair’s book. “Indian spirituality, karma and the theory of past life are great concepts for fiction. Reincarnation as a literary theme is a new genre,” says Hair.