Book Review: Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom
Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom is an interesting story that brings together two narratives from two different time periods. The first plot revolves around a 16th century courtier in Vijaynagara, Devdutta, who finds himself drawn into an illicit relationship between a Portuguese trader and a Persian traveller. The second story is about Sharat, a history scholar and the translator of Devdutta’s diary, and Nitya, a history researcher.
The paths of the two stories cross when Sharat, now in a different profession, stumbles on to Devdutta’s diary. Intrigued about the find, he contacts his history professor who sends his student, Nitya, to a journey of discovery along with Sharat.
The author has handled the two sub-plots well, and done full justice to sketching the two different time periods distinctively. History and romance are interspersed wonderfully. A historical fiction, the book will amaze you with snippets from the past era that will really make your day.
Only 195 pages long, the book is a quick read, best enjoyed during a boring, lonesome train ride.
About the book: 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 courtier’s 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.
About the author: Nalini Rajan is Dean of Studies and Professor, Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. She has a doctorate in Social Communication from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. She has travelled widely, and held post-doctoral fellowships in the UK (Oxford and Edinburgh) and in the US (New York). Her first novel, The Pangolin’s Tale, was long listed for the 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize. Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom is her third work of fiction.
Posted on January 15, 2014, in Books and tagged Book Review, Bookreview, Books, Hampi, Love, Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom, Nalini Ranjan, Vijayanagara. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.