Monday, July 4, 2011

Automatic charm

Writer Mariam Karim-Ahlawat on why Tulika's latest paperback fantasy, Beyond the Blue River, made her sit up. 

In the tradition of many great books for children and young people that kindle the seeking spirit in the reader,  here’s a tender, innocent tale of Grace…no, not a young  girl , as you might imagine, but Grace, Auto for Hire…yes, an autoricksha who ‘runs away’ driverless, in search of the mystic Blue River.

Reminiscent of all wonderful children’s books ranging from Gulliver’s Travels, to Alice in Wonderland to Lord of the Rings, to Harry Potter, to Thomas the Tank Engine, B.Vinayan’s imaginative story brings a fresh approach by its warmth and humour and its effortless weaving of philosophy and childlike wonderment. The symbolism of hope is present throughout the novel, even in the darker parts of the battles between the Good and Evil Forces.

The characters are unforgettable, from Zrooh the king of Winds to Husha the day breeze, in the beginning, to This and That of the village of Itsy, the Yagars and Yamins of Mandra Rukh the enchanted forest, the Mountain of the Phantas Sea…and much,  much more.

The original and engaging ideas of the ‘language of the spheres’ which allows everyone to understand everyone, the possibilities of transformation of selves, and travel between worlds, sets Vinayan apart from other writers.

The style is natural and uncomplicated, interspersed with charming inspirational songs. What I really liked about the book is that it is not in the least contrived, does not seem to look towards a particular audience, or present a particular cultural point of view, as many books today’s just a story simply told, by a person who likes to tell stories, a raconteur par excellence.

Mariam Karim-Ahlawat 

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