#ELLERecommends: 4 Books That Celebrate The Magic Of Mythology Retold
There is something unequivocally alluring about a book that follows the anachronistic literary narrative, which places people associated with a particular time in history in the wrong time period. These tales are old as time, and you are curious to know how the characters would react, think, or even just… live.
Author Trisha Das thought about this as well, and in her latest book, The Misters Kuru, a sequel to the Miss Draupadi Kuru, Das focuses her impish imagination on the Pandavas and how they would respond to life in contemporary Delhi.
The plot is straightforward — the Pandavas, sufficiently bored of their immortal life in the heavens, descend on Earth to experience life as mortals for 30 days. What unfolds is obvious chaos at first, as each of the brothers, Yudhishtra, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, find their centre of belief challenged.
Yudhishtra grapples with an increasingly intolerant society, and Arjuna dabbles in sports, mainly cricket. Bhima dedicates himself to service in the culinary world, while the twins, Nakul and Sahadeva, struggle to find out if they can exist outside of their ampersand identity.
You don’t have to have read the previous book to enjoy reading this one; the author provides enough callbacks to it in the book for you to catch on to the simmering issues between the characters. Das seamlessly weaves issues affecting contemporary life into the Pandavas’ struggles, giving fiction the perfect depth of reality to empathise with their ‘fish out of water’ experiences.
Written in an easy language and a plot that potters along quickly, The Misters Kuru is a saucy amuse-bouche.
If you liked this, or are drawn to the plot, here are three other mythological re-tellings you should read.
1. Ramayan 3392 AD by Shamik Dasgupta
Ramayan 3392 AD seamlessly blends mythology with dystopian sci-fi giving the classic epic Ramayana a contemporary twist that is both imaginative and inventive. Set in 3392 AD, in a post-apocalyptic Earth savaged by years of nuclear warfare, the kingdom of Armagarh stands as the lone beacon of humanity in a world ruled by Ravana, the demon king of Nark. When an attack on Armagarh is imminent, heads turn to Princes Rama and Lakshman to save the kingdom, and Sita, a messiah, who does not understand her power yet, might just be the key to winning the battle between good and evil.
2. Buddha by Osamu Tezuka
The Buddha series by Osamu Tezuka is an irreverent re-imagination of the life and times of Siddharta as he begins his journey as an aristocratic prince, to an ascetic, to eventually, Gautama Buddha, the Enlightened One. Tezuka’s mastery in manga is well-known, and his grasp on the knowledge of Buddha and Buddhism transforms itself into a visual explosion of delight, arresting images, and explicit humour. He adroitly uses experiences and events within the book to explain the philosophical message of Buddhism, a manner that is refreshing and welcome.
3. The City of Brass by S A Chakraborty
The beloved folktale of Aladdin from One Thousand and One Nights collection of Middle Eastern folktales gets a fantasy re-telling in this award-winning book by Chakraborty. The core elements remain the same — Aladdin is now Nari, a 12-year-old girl street rat who uses the illusion of magic to con Ottoman nobles of their wealth. When she accidentally summons Dari, a powerful Djinn, during one of the schemes, she opens the portal to a world she discovers a whole new world, where magic is indeed real, and the consequences are lasting.