Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Song Of the Cuckoo Bird, Amullya Malladi


A sweeping epic set in southern India, where a group of outcasts create a family while holding tight to their dreams.

Barely a month after she is promised in marriage, eleven-year-old orphan Kokila comes to Tella Meda, an ashram by the Bay of Bengal. Once there, she makes a courageous yet foolish choice that alters the fabric of her life: Instead of becoming a wife and mother, youthful passion drives Kokila to remain at the ashram.

Through the years, Kokila revisits her decision as she struggles to make her mark in a country where untethered souls like hers merely slip through the cracks. But standing by her conviction, she makes a home in Tella Meda alongside other strong yet deeply flawed women. Sometimes they are her friends, sometimes they are her enemies, but always they are her family.

Like Isabel Allende, Amulya Malladi crafts complex characters in deeply atmospheric settings that transport readers through different eras, locales, and sensibilities. Careening from the 1940s to the present day, Song of the Cuckoo Bird chronicles India’s tumultuous history as generations of a makeshift family seek comfort and joy in unlikely places–and from unlikely hearts.(less)

Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Ballantine Books
0345483154 (ISBN13: 9780345483157)
edition language
original title
Song of the Cuckoo Bird: A Novel
My Review
What would you call a woman who gives up on a happy household life and chooses instead to live in an ashram, a life far away from that of a traditional Indian woman would have ever imagined? Kokila did just that. She happens to visit Tella Meda. A marriage is supposed to happen within a month. But the girl, rather an eleven year old orphan makes her choice of staying back. Staying back meant choosing a treacherous life and being deprived of the happiness of building up a family. staying back also meant choosing her own life which she wanted to live. She chose to see the later and ‘Song Of The Cuckoo Bird’ is her tale of fight for survival.
Amulya Malladi is a genius and Song of the Cuckoo Bird is a masterpiece. Like others from the same plot, it is not a feminist rant. It is a fictitious account on the fate of a lady who driven by her youthful desires pursuing a life she wanted to live. The story is set in the early nineteenth century I suppose and that was the period when racial discrimination was at its peak. Plus it was southern India where the story is set in. The customs and rituals were something they religiously followed. The people had a very stereotypic way of thinking. Kokila, living in such a society and defying their conventional ways of life is in a way very feministic in approach. Even when you look at it just as a human being on the whole, it’s difficult. And that is where the book bags in most of the attention. Once when you get started on the book, then a curiosity within you develops to know further. Before you know, Bam! The book is over.
This book is inspiring. You want to know more about what happened to Kokila because of the depth of her character. She with the clarity of her mind charms you. She is determined from the point she makes her choice and vows to stand by it come what may. As the excerpt says, she finds friends, enemies and a family within the deeply flawed women. The book is movingly real and it is solely the characters that make it my favorite.


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