The Queen of Jas­mine Coun­try

Storizen Magazine - - What's Inside - - HarperCollins In­dia

HarperCollins In­dia is proud to an­nounce, on the oc­ca­sion of An­dal Jayanti, the pub­li­ca­tion of Sha­ranya Manivannan’s The Queen of Jas­mine Coun­try, which imag­ines the life of the de­vo­tional poet An­dal from me­dieval Tami­lagam, in Oc­to­ber 2018.

This is Manivannan’s sec­ond book of fic­tion, af­ter the award­win­ning col­lec­tion of short sto­ries The High Priest­ess Never

Mar­ries.

About The Queen of Jas­mine

Coun­try: Ninth cen­tury. In Pudu­vai, a small town in what we now know as Tamil Nadu, young Kod­hai is taught to read and to write by her adop­tive fa­ther, a gar­land-weav­ing poet. As she dis­cov­ers the power of words, she also re­al­izes that the long­ing for a great love that she has been nurs­ing within her – one that does not sup­press her de­sire

for free­dom – is likely to re­main un­ful­filled. Then, she hears of a vow that she can un­der­take that might sum­mon it to her. In deep­est win­ter, the six­teen-yearold be­gins pray­ing for a di­vinely sen­sual love – not know­ing that her words will them­selves be­come prayers, and echo through the cen­turies to come. Rich with the echoes of clas­si­cal po­etry, The Queen of Jas­mine Coun­try, Sha­ranya Manivannan imag­ines the life of the de­vo­tional poet An­dal, whose sub­lime and erotic verses re­main beloved and con­tro­ver­sial to this day. Speak­ing about The Queen of Jas­mine Coun­try, Sha­ranya

Manivannan said, ‘Cen­turies be­fore she was ac­corded god­dess sta­tus, a teenage girl in ninth cen­tury CE Tamil Nadu ex­pressed all her sor­rows and de­sires through po­etry. Un­usu­ally for her time, she was both un­mar­ried and lit­er­ate, yet bounded by the norms of so­ci­ety. What could it have been like to have been her? The Queen of Jas­mine Coun­try is not so much about An­dal, whose verses still res­onate in Tamil tem­ples and homes to­day, but about Kod­hai, the only name she knew her­self by, all those cen­turies ago. Her in­te­rior life, the fab­ric of her days, all the lone­li­ness and long­ing so pal­pa­ble in her work – these were what con­sumed my thoughts. I wrote this novel with equal amounts of love and sad­ness: love for Kod­hai her­self (who came to me bright and sweet, melan­cholic and brave, sub­lime but wholly hu­man), and sad­ness for all whose sto­ries we never hear be­cause we are taught to never ask for them. Udayan Mi­tra, Publisher [Lit­er­ary], HarperCollins In­dia, added: ‘An­dal is a mys­ti­cal fig­ure and a de­vo­tional poet who has evoked a great deal of cu­rios­ity; very lit­tle, though, is known of her life. In her novel, Sha­ranya Manivannan imag­ines An­dal’s world as it might have ap­peared to the teenage girl. The Queen of a Jas­mine Coun­try is a lyri­cal, evoca­tive novel about de­vo­tion and cre­ativ­ity; it will res­onate with read­ers long af­ter they have fin­ished read­ing it.’ About the au­thor: Sha­ranya Manivannan is the au­thor of the

short-story col­lec­tion The High Priest­ess Never Mar­ries, which won the 2015-16 South Asia Laadli Me­dia and Ad­ver­tis­ing Award for Gen­der Sen­si­tiv­ity (Best Book – Fic­tion) and was short­listed for the TATA Lit Live! First Book Award (Fic­tion) and longlisted for the Atta Galatta – Ban­ga­lore Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val Book Prize. She is also the au­thor of two books of po­etry, Witch­craft and The Al­tar of the Only World, and a pic­ture book for chil­dren, The Am­muchi Puchi.’

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