Samskara (a Sanskrit word) has many meanings: A rite of passage or life-cycle ceremony, forming well - making perfect, the realisation of past perceptions, preparation - making ready, are just some.
This novel (written in Kannada and translated to English by AK Ramanujan) has the English subtitle A Rite for a Dead Man, one of the meanings of Samskara. But that meaning, while being the immeidate subject of the novel, is less important than some of the others.
Set before independence, it was written in 1965 and translated into English in 1976.
When Naranappa, a renegade Brahmin who flouted the rules of caste, dies his community can't decide whther he should be buried as a Brahmin. And so we explore the flaws and foibles of the community as the decision is dsicussed, prayed upon and delayed.
The autor describes the novel as an allegorical tale and reading it that way helps. Because despite a readable translation, the lack of knowledge of Hindu practices, legend, faith, means a lot of the nuance is lost. I think a translation that allows for a westerner's ignorance of the nuances would make this a diferent book. Perhaps the time is right for a new translation.
A few years ago, I released my book "Ancients' Royale" on Kindle, about two immortal (and dysfunctional) brothers running in a bar in Halifax who find themselves in the cross-hairs of a demon sorceress. My second book continues their story, pitting them against the ancient gods and Titans in a worldwide battle royale. I love reading about world mythology, folklore, and religion, but I'm also a big fan of Tintin and "Hitchhiker's Guide", which is where I feel my writing styles stem from. The end result is a "young adult, contemporary fantasy, action-adventure comedy" series that I will wrap up by this summer's end.
Please, feel free to download, post a review, or even go back and buy my first book should this pique your interest! And thanks!
(Note: this book will be free between June 4th and 5th, 2016)
Here's the cover art I drew for it:
"So They May Stand Alone" Training Iraqi Security Forces in 2005 by Magnus Edward
Being in Iraq is like being on another planet. Everyone that has been there has a story to tell. This story is a brief window into but one perspective of what Iraq was really like during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Training a foreign people to fight in their own country is an odd task that brings about strange events. Americans and Iraqis working together, their cultures could not have been more different.
"Quite some time has passed since the days that we sweated it out at the East Fallujah Iraqi Camp. This is a recollection of what happened out there. There were several Marines that helped to conduct the training that we did. I think that we all equally contributed in different ways. Each one of them should be proud of what they did. Although this story is told from my perspective, it is not my story, it is our story."
This book is a look at the culture, religion, and perhaps some insight into current events.
link removed - please use the Amazon link at the top of the page to buy the book
Mr G is the story of Creation. Mr G is God (Hello God) and is living in the Void with his Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva. One day when he is bored, he creates matter. This sounds like the pretext for a comic novel and that was the spirit in which I approached it. Alas, what followed was a pretty serious piece about how matter might have evolved into universes; how elements might have been created from energy; how life might have formed, etc.
We have the creation of time, and then the ability to measure it through atomic pulses - always in exact powers of ten. We have much philosophical musing too about how time enables perspective. There is the creation of evil - Belhor - as a counterweight to the creation of good. Belhor and Mr G spend time conversing and discussing more philosophy. Meanwhile, universes are created and squished with gay abandon.
Alan Lightman never seems to know whether he is writing a novel or a philosophy text. The set piece monologues and, even worse, dialogues, are staged and stilted. Their sole purpose seems to be to convey real theory in an anthropomorphic fashion so that people can understand it better. They do not seem to be intended to entertain. There is the occasional light moment - Belhor going to the opera comes to mind - but it's not enough to sustain interest. Most of the narrative is drab and interwoven with lots of numbers and lots of lists of things.
To add to the frustration, the basic questions of what The Void actually is, and how Mr G came to be in it, and why he decided at a particular moment (before moments existed) to create things are not addressed.
If you were a teacher of quantum physics (which I am not) you might want to offer Mr G to your students as a light introduction to the concepts. But for an average reader, this is not going to deliver on mismanaged expectations and is unlikely to do more than take away a few hours that could have been spent doing something more useful.