Book Review: The Kathasaritasagara of Somadeva by Meena Arora Nayak
|Image Source: Amazon.in|
- ISBN: 978-8194874157
- Genre: Fiction, Mythological fiction, Legends
- Publisher: Aleph Book Company (10 December 2020)
- Price: INR 999/-
About the Book
About the Author
The Kathāsaritsāgara ("Ocean of the Streams of Stories") is a famous 11th-century collection of Indian legends, fairy tales and folk tales as retold in Sanskrit by the Shaivite Somadeva. Kathāsaritsāgara contains multiple layers of story within a story and is said to have been adopted from Guṇāḍhya's Bṛhatkathā, which was written in a poorly-understood language known as Paiśācī. The work is no longer extant but several later adaptations still exist — the Kathāsaritsāgara, Bṛhatkathamanjari and Bṛhatkathāślokasaṃgraha. (Source)
This book is a retelling of the famous collection from the 11th century.
Meena Arora Nayak's efforts at recreating these stories without losing out on their essence and retain the enthralling element in each one of them are truly commendable. Though the stories end with a moral, they are not preachy in the sense of making a reader feel uncomfortable. The lessons are deeply imbibed in the narrative in a manner that leaves the reader thinking.
The stories are narrated by a character to another and the chain keeps continuing till the end. This adds to the layers of the narrative with characters reappearing and there is a strange continuity within these stories which is extremely engaging. Interlacing themes like love, hatred, death, life, and other nuances of life with finer detailing, these stories strike a chord effortlessly for a reader.
However, the stories need not be read in a sequence. I found this collection to be like Pandora's box. I picked any story randomly and started reading it, only to be amazed by the narrative. These stories have a voice of their own, the characters though intertwined, have a shape of their own and their voices is what connects deeply with the reader.
There were many portions when I was transported back to my childhood as they reminded me of Panchtantra and Hitopedesha stories. This collection has the power to make you forget everything around you and simply mesmerize you with its powerful storytelling.
This book is an amazing retelling and the Nayak deserves full credits for her efforts to bring this project to fruition. This is one gift that every book lover would cherish and love to pass onto future generations as a keep sake. These stories need to be read, experienced, and re-read only to retold again.
Such collections are a beautiful reminder of our classics which are on the verge of extinction. And for this, I have always commended Aleph Book Company. Their ability to bring up collections of stories from Indian writing ranging from translations to retellings is simply mind-blowing. They are a name to reckon with if you are looking for quality literature in Indian Writing.
Strongly recommended for the flair of language, the beauty of writing, and the captivating stories in this collection!