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Sunaina Jain
Like the Radiant Sun’ by Anu Kay
Sunaina Jain

Like the Radiant Sun | Novel | Anu Kay | The Write Place (Aug 2021) |
ISBN-10: ‎ 1638779570 |ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1638779575 | pp 220 |
Paperback ₹ 299 / $ 9.95 | Kindle $ 2.39

A confluence of mythology, mysticism and masterful narrative

I understand once again that the greatness of God always reveals itself in the simple things.

– Paulo Coelho

As I was browsing through the website of Anu Kay, I was impressed with her rigorous discipline, perseverance and painstaking dive into exhaustive study and research pertaining to the Rigveda, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Such labour of love unravels passion and seriousness about the craft of writing, which is uplifting for the writer as well as the reader in a unique way.

After flipping through the first few pages of the novel, Anu Kay’s debut novel Like the Radiant Sun gave me a déjà vu experience in an exciting way as it reminded me of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (sans the controversy surrounding it, of course). Robert Langdon, Harvard Professor of symbology, finds himself baffled by a murder and soon, is following a cryptic trail of events, which eventually unfold mysterious and controversial religious truths. In Anu Kay’s novel, Rohan Sharma, an archaeologist and professor at Oxford, lands into life-threatening situation unwittingly as he witnesses a murder which further triggers off a series of murders. Rohan Sharma flies to Varanasi to work on a renovation project of a Shiva temple. Ancient truths, beliefs and value systems, spirituality, life force and contemporary values converge to dish out a historical thriller and whodunit.

From Varanasi, Delhi and Bangalore to Venice, the book takes you on a roller-coaster thrilling ride of twists, turns, unexpected events, and cliffhangers. The book is a blend of magic realism, surrealism, adventure, mysticism, occultism and secrets. The story revolves around a manuscript of an ancient martial art called Marma Kala – a sacred text believed to be written by Lord Shiva himself. The labyrinthine journey of Rohan Sharma takes the readers along in a quest to decipher and decode the secret surrounding the Marma Kala.

This enticing tale is interspersed with modern people as well as the most ancient in the garb of modernism. I do not want to spill the beans here! A woman with dreadlocked hair, who follows Rohan everywhere, becomes an enigma not just for him but also creates suspense in the minds of the readers as well. The reader understands that her ubiquitous presence in Rohan’s life during the life-altering course of events cannot be incidental. The plotline compels the readers to be participants in decrypting the role and identity of the mysterious woman with whom Rohan gets smitten by. The beginning pushes off like a conundrum, leading to puzzling climactic events, balanced by a resolution and denouement which leaves readers in awe as they partake of ancient Indian wisdom.

Whereas Rohan’s immediate fascination with the dreadlock haired woman takes place on an extraordinary surreal tangent, his subtle and gradual love for Mira results in a wedlock. The trope of a dying man recounting and filtering his memory, reweaving the unusual life events, and penning those down before he kicks the bucket, creates the desired interest in the mind of the readers.

The book is divided into short chapters named after places, themes and characters, which provide the readers with a rough geographical roadmap. The couplets and quotes from the Vedas offer a rich palette of spirituality and mystical teachings. The narrative is also intercepted by long passages extracted from the manuscript which Rohan is trying to decode. Just as in the ancient scriptures and social systems, the good forces and the preservers of ancient manuscript (including Rohan, Mira, Panikkar and Mira’s father) are pitted against the self-centered antagonists (like Patil and Nayyar) who want to grab the original manuscript driven by their bigoted mindset.

The first-person narration gives the readers a direct peep into the mind of Rohan who is the ‘Chosen One’ for safeguarding the ancient manuscript of Marma Kala. He is the chosen one who embodies virtues and intelligence to understand the importance of ancient Indian heritage, and who also comprehends the perils of the manuscript landing in nefarious hands. The narrative encompasses a wide array of Indian legends and also elaborates on the ancient martial art of Kalaripayattu, which is interesting and woven seamlessly into the fabric of the tale.

The maiden attempt of Anu Kay deserves plaudits in terms of careful research, documentation wherever necessary, interesting plotline and impeccable editing, which makes the novel a composite book. The cover page of the book is equally alluring and inviting as it delineates the contours of a significant character in the book. The characterization technique serves well the purpose of the plot with most of the characters fleshed out in a realistic fashion. Even Neela Mahadev’s persona and demeanour are portrayed realistically, though a tinge of mystery and bizarre details do follow like a trail behind her.

In a vast reservoir of mythological fiction available in India, I am certain, the debut novel of Anu Kay will not get lost in the mist of time.


Issue 102 (Mar-Apr 2022)

Book Reviews
  • Aneek Chatterjee: ‘The Fern-Gatherers’ Association’ by Sekhar Banerjee
  • Ankush Banerjee: ‘The Shape of a Poem – The Red River Book of Contemporary Erotic Poetry
  • Candice Louisa Daquin: ‘when the flowers begin to speak’by Sonali Pattnaik
  • Lakshmi Kannan: ‘It Begins at Home and Other Short Stories’ by Sanjukta Dasgupta
  • Malsawmi Jacob: ‘The Tombstone in My Garden’ by Temsula Ao
  • Nikita Yadav: ‘Sri Krishnakarnamrutham’ by Bilva Mangala (Sanskrit original), Trans. by Ambika Ananth
  • Sukanya Saha: ‘3D Trilogy 1 – Protostar’ by Amlan Ray
  • Sunaina Jain: ‘Like the Radiant Sun’ by Anu Kay
  • Tejwant Singh Gill: ‘Betrayed by Hope’ by Namita Gokhale & Malashri Lal
  • U R K Sarma: ‘Losing the Plot – Political Isolation of West Bengal’ by Sugato Hazra
  • Varchaswi L Putcha: ‘Reflections on Mughal Art & Culture’ Ed. by Roda Ahluwalia