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Swallowing the Sun – A novel about the triumph of the human spirit

Vaseline 2 months ago

Shillong, April 21: Former Ambassador Lakshmi Murdeshwar Puri was at the Taj Vivanta, Shillong, on Sunday to release her debut novel titled ‘Swallowing the Sun’. NEHU Professor Jyotirmoy Prodhani ably moderated the discussion, highlighting key facets of the book, which according to the author was a trilogy looking at three generations of women and their respective journeys.
Puri has held many important positions at the United Nations and was the founder and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women. She comes from a generation of women, especially her mother, who fought their way in a deeply patriarchal society.
During the conversation, Puri said she was happy to have the special privilege of bringing her new book to the city of Shillong.
“I visited Shillong in 2019 and learned a lot about the cultural and literary brightness of this place over the years. Shillong is known for its English literature and poetry. This place is like a literary field,” she said.
Claiming that it is an exciting move for her as a debut novelist, the author reveals that this novel was inspired by her parents, who were extraordinary people of their generation and represent the people of their age.
According to her, the characters in this novel represent the strength, challenges and opportunities of an era and, more importantly, they are people who seize the opportunities they were given.
Stating that the novel is not only about the female characters in this novel, but even the men of that time cross boundaries to achieve the impossible.
“As someone who was born into a family that was privileged to glimpse the era in which they lived, fought, loved, achieved and failed. For me, my parents are prophets of that time in themselves,” the former diplomat said.
Puri said that this novel is a historical fiction and covers a period from 1918 to 1950.
She said the novel has an epic scope and she really wanted to capture the personal histories of these characters.
Meanwhile, the former diplomat said: “I could very well have written a biography because their lives were dramatic enough, but I didn’t want to do that because there are certain things that cannot be revealed. That’s why I gave a touch of fiction to my work. . Few people would call this book a faction (fact+fiction). When you write a biography, it appeals to the intellect. But I wanted to touch the heart by using poetry and lyrical quotes to reach the soul of India,” she said.
Puri also said that it is really a coming of age story and it is about young people of that time.
“It is for this reason that I have said that it is up to young people, for young people and by young people, to make it resonate with the current era. People will be surprised when they read the book because it doesn’t read like a historical novel because people speak the language in a very modern way,” he said.
The book weaves through the eyes of Malati and delves into one of the most tumultuous periods in modern Indian history: the struggle for independence. Malati’s fearlessness allows her to defy the patriarchal traditions of her time and steer the book toward a story that empowers women. A brave girl and supported by her progressive father, she and her sister Kamala continually push the boundaries of society and eventually become the first women in their family to go to college.
They both end up in Bombay (now Mumbai), then a hotbed of political ferment, and are whirled around by the currents of the struggle for independence. The book revolves around their ups and downs of love, compassion, loss and prejudice.
Hosted in Shillong by Ehsaas Women, Khaitan Foundation, founded by late Dr. Prabha Khaitan, a women empowerment advocate and man of letters, this is the second book review to be held in Shillong.
The attentive audience was fascinated by the Puri’s story of how she was inspired to write the novel based on her father’s 148 letters, which she carried with her on all her assignments. It took her almost 22 years before she could actually pen down an epic novel of 2,70,000 words.
“I started writing 7-8 hours a day in June 2020 and never left the house. It takes that kind of discipline and resilience to write a novel that contains memories and how they are interpreted over time. I completed this epic work in 2021 and David Davidar of Aleph Book Company agreed to publish the book. Of course, there had to be some serious editing to reduce the number of words,” says Puri.
Later, the author handed out signed copies of her book to the select audience present at the book discussion.