Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today's Feature: Menon-Singh. Breaking the Bow.

Breaking the Bow is an amazing collection of speculative fiction inspired by the Ramayana, edited by Anil Menon and Vandana Singh. You will find highly imaginative and experimental stories here; my personal favorite is "Exile" by Neelanjana Banerjee, a science fiction story with the Ramayana as a kind of cosplay set in the Las Vegas of the future. You can find out more about the book here: Reading Guide - Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana.

Anil Menon's introduction to the collection of stories does a great job of explaining why it is important to explore the Ramayana in these highly creative ways, keeping the epic alive and new, exciting a sense of wonder in readers for whom the Ramayana is already familiar, even very familiar. Here is a quote:
The Ramayana with its fantasy tropes should arouse the adbhut rasa — the savor of wonder — but it cannot, because in India the pleasure of a first contact with the epics is not possible. Or, more accurately, the savoring of the epics as a novel experience is not possible. The epics come in many diverse versions, but diversity is not novelty. We need the novum for wonder, and that is precisely what tradition cannot offer. But speculative fiction can.
You can find out more about the Indian rasas at Wikipedia.

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