This is my first book which I finished in 2018, and I am really glad that it is. An epi c saga like Mahabharata has been retold by many. We have seen time and again multiple interpretations of the same. So when I opened Chatterjee’s book, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything different to what has already been told before. Chatterjee’s Yudhisthira is not an epic, it’s actually a story, story of a man, his emotions, his life and the discourse of his life based on his decisions. Chatterjee’s interpretation of Mahabharata through Yudhisthira’s eyes is unique. He has very successfully turned this mythological larger than life character into a blood and flesh man.
There’s no point in telling you how the story goes, because in all probability you already know it by heart since the age of five. Then the question arises now is then why should you read this book?
Firstly, read it for the sheer pleasure of a fluid narrative which follows a man’s journey through love, life, war and his unshakable dharma. Secondly, read it for the characters, which are drawn in a similar fashion as to Yudhishthira, by that I mean in a manner where they feel real. It’s especially interesting because you already know the character motivations and actions they would take beforehand. So you can delve into the characterization better, without losing time on understanding their motives. Thirdly read it because you will find many facets of Mahabharata told in a completely different manner. Last but not the least; read it for the editing, Indrani Ganguly, the editor for the book is in her own element. If you have read other books edited by Ganguly, you will be aware of her style of crisp editing without over-shadowing the author. This book at her hands turns sharp, as it is needed for a story as majestic as this.
I like books with simple language as a reader, and I am thankful to the editor for keeping the author’s style intact without forcing it to be a literary gem with extensive showcasing of the language, which will make this book accessible to readers of all age groups. I mostly dislike the complicated approach towards narration and use of big words unnecessarily. If I wanted a grammar or a vocabulary lesson I would pick up Wren & Martin or a Thesaurus for that matter. So I am very pleased with the fact that Chatterjee focused on what actually matters the most, the plot structure and the story.
This is not one of those books which you will pick up and read front to back within hours, this will need your time. You will have to set it down from time to time to let the magnanimity sink in. I as a reader would request you to take your time with this one. And maybe go back to it a few months later again. There’s a certain kind of profoundness hidden very skilfully under a simple language and a straightforward narrative. Although I must add here, some war scenes are pretty graphic, which might irk some readers.
Another great book from the publishing desk of Readomania, pick it up, if you want a story of a real man, of an epic character told in the language of the people.
I would like to leave you with a few lines from the book which sums up the character of Yudhisthira for me, ‘Draupadi’s fall and my secret reaction made me aware that in spite of peeling off several layers of humanity, the very core of me was still throbbing with banal, familiar worldliness. I was still a human – a too ordinary one at that!’
Please Note: This is not a commissioned review