Myths, dreams, desires, the timeless reality of the body and soul - in the midst of nature's bounty - that is the essence of The Queen of Jasmine Country. It is an astounding work of fiction. - Volga Tonight, under this arena of starlight, I take up my stylus and press it by the glow of a clay lantern into dry palmyra leaves. It is on this night that I dedicate myself - to my self, to who I truly am, to what is invincible and without bondage of time, that predates me, that will outlive me.
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 undying 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-year-old 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, in 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.
The Queen of Jasmine Country by Sharanya Manivannan
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