Cuckold

CUCKOLD


The time is early 16th century. The Rajput kingdom of Mewar is at the height of its power. It is locked in war with the Sultanates of Delhi, Gujarat and Malwa. But there is another deadly battle being waged within Mewar itself. Who will inherit the throne after the death of the Maharana?The course of history, not just of Mewar but of the whole of India, is about to be changed forever. At the centre of Cuckold is the narrator, heir apparent of Mewar, who questions the codes, conventions and underlying assumptions of the feudal world of which he is a part, a world in which political and personal conduct are dictated by values of courage, valour and courtesy; and death is preferable to dishonour.

A quintessentially Indian story, Cuckold has an immediacy and appeal that are truely universal.

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Testimonials
(Cuckold is) a fascinating book, a sort of fantastic marriage between the Thomas Mann of Royal Highness and the Lady Murasaki.
Gore Vidal
…Kiran Nagarkar, the leading Marathi writer whose novel Cuckold, written in English I regard as the best by an Indian…(Nagarkar) is a born story-teller, thinker and has a way with words uniquely his own. His narration is larded with pithy observations of human behaviour, description of natural phenomenon, God, religion, music, political and social morality. And of course infused with delectable doses of erotica which though sensuous are never bawdy. You enjoy, you learn and you are made to think. What more can you ask for from an author?Cuckold is a historical fiction at its best.
Khushwant Singh
No recent book has the strength and complexity of Cuckold, and none offers such rewards. By choosing the husband of Mirabai as his protagonist, Nagarkar is able to fashion a dazzling narrative infused with multiple layers of philosophical, historical and spiritual meaning. The book contains many moods and registers. These range from a vivid, racy narrative voice which mocks those who demand historical fiction be served up as a comfortable period piece, to scenes of harrowing realism, to astonishingly beautiful and tranquil depictions of places. Here is writing so immediate and sensuous it leaves the reader with almost physical memories. This is not all, for the book explores in a deeply personal, introspective vein and with great subtlety and intelligence the place of love, hate, good and evil in human life. Nagarkar crowns his achievement with a stunning, illuminating ending which raises the novel to another plane and opens the reader to new possibilities. This is a very important book, one which is deeply relevant to the contemporary world and yet will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
Dr. Susan DaruvalaUniversity of Cambridge
Kiran Nagarkar’s Cuckold is a most extraordinary novel. Alas, our book industry or culture of reading is just not equipped to recognize what a splendid achievement it is. Cuckold is so totally different from anything I have read in Indian English fiction that it deserves special notice and praise.If bringing the past alive in such a persuasive manner was its only achievement, this would still be a great book. I know of no other Indian English author, Khushwant Singh included, who can write about another epoch in so confident or convincing a manner… Yet as I said earlier, this book is not really historical. That is because most of its contents have been invented by the author… Herein lies his creative genius. It is the sort of genius which is also interpretive and analytical. It is a veritable manual on medieval warfare, armament technology, civic administration, government politics, social life, harem management, palace intrigues, sexuality, hunting, food, social stratification, caste and communal relations and, besides, contains what might broadly be termed the underlying weltanschauung to make all of this coherent and plausible. Nagarkar not only has all the talents of a novelist, but also a philosophy of history.
Makarand ParanjapeThe Pioneer
(Nagarkar’s) work can only be described as dauntingly imaginative, a feast for the mind, a virtuoso performance in the art of using language like a paintbrush to fill the eye with colour, the ear with the rhythms and cadence of poetry only thinly disguised as prose… I loved Kiran Nagarkar’s ‘The Cuckold’. And though I do not have to make this particular decision, if I absolutely had to give up one of them, I know which one it would be. For while (Arundhati) Roy’s book is unputdownable when picked up for the first time, Nagarkar’s is the sort you can come back to again and again for the sheer pleasure of reading.
Carol AndradeThe Metropolis
If the high powered action sucks us down to a spiral vortex of introspection, deep, sombre and meditative like the Gambhiree river which flows through his motherland, it is because in the Maharaj Kumar, we have a character of many dimensions. He can kill an enemy general in cold blooded treachery, he can also shower his wife with the parijata blossoms that he has himself gathered with care.It is the Maharaj Kumar who invests the rest of the cast with blood, flesh and spirit. He shifts the focus from light to shadow, romance to nightmare.
Gowri NarayananThe Hindu
Kiran Nagarkar’s Cuckold is an excellent novel, but it hasn’t won attention outside India because it does not suit a Western colonial vision of India. It is a novel written from a position of great cultural confidence and does not treat the West or the Western perspective as more important.
Manjula PadmanabhanThe Times of India
Those who mourn for the alienation of the English language as and when applied to native images and attitudes, should get up and dance naked in the rain at the levels of natural fluency in Nagarkar’s Cuckold. Language in Cuckold is not just a means of communication. It isn’t even a mediator between readers and plot. It acquires an almost invisible status. What we see and hear are the characters and their thoughts, nothing more, nothing less.Miraculously liberated of all linguistic obstacles, unfettered by inhibitions of sacrosanctity, Cuckold is controlled by a truly renaissance imagination. Nagarkar’s prose does not subscribe to any stylistic classification. He simply writes because there’s a story to tell. This is a novel that projects an acutely disciplined vision.
Subhash K. JhaThe Hindustan Times
(Cuckold) is a work of substance that exists on many levels and has much to say about our own times as it has about the past. It is an exploration of the nature of kingship and statecraft. It offers a fresh vision of sainthood. It questions sexual identities. It contains graphic depictions, deftly drawn, of the confusion and mayhem of the battlefield. It is a panegyric to the power of music. It plays on the theme of cuckoldry with many a variation.In the course of events, remarkably compelling personalities come to the fore. They love, hate, manoeuvre, conspire, engage in intrigues and deceptions. They tantalize, lust after and shamelessly manipulate one another. Amidst some of the most despicable betrayals, they demonstrate the profoundest loyalty and display the rarest of courage. All this might suggest that what we have here is yet another swashbuckling saga reminiscent of some flamboyant ‘historical’ TV serial. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each character – no matter how minor – is distinct, unpredictable, capable of surprising us, and fully rendered, from the Maharaj Kumar of Mewar, the Maharana’s eldest son, to Sunheria, a washerwoman, fleshed out in a memorable cameo of a part…And finally, a word about Nagarkar’s language. He employs a distinctive yet unobtrusive narrative voice which comes as a welcome relief from recent novels whose styles call attention to themselves and trivialize the material in the process, whose relentless quirkiness soon becomes a bore. Likewise we have to thank him for the absence of magical realism, a device that has been flogged to death by every writer aspiring to be another Marquez or Rushdie.
Jacquelin SinghIndian Review of Books
(Nagarkar) is a born story-teller, thinker and has a way with words uniquely his own. His narration is larded with pithy observations of human behaviour, description of natural phenomenon, God, religion, music, political and social morality. And of course infused with delectable doses of erotica which though sensuous are never bawdy. You enjoy, you learn and you are made to think. What more can you ask for from an author?Cuckold is a historical fiction at its best.
Khushwant SinghSunday Despatch
Confrontation of oneself, knowledge of one’s innermost motives is the core of this novel.Epics are… not tragedies. They are meant to reveal the true moral fibre of mankind, with a little help from the gods. And this is what Nagarkar’s Cuckold does. It leaves behind, not sorrow, but a whole host of philosophical questions, prompting the reader to look into himself, and at the world. This is perhaps what makes Cuckold an intensely thoughtful novel.
Usha HemmadiBiblio
Let me say it right away: this is a fascinating, a brilliant book, a colossal epic, which devours the reader just as the reader devours the 704 pages without stopping.
Gabriele VenzkyDie Zeit
An intensely colourful and lively historical novel for people with a passion for reading. Divine reading!
Cosmopolitan
Nagarkar expertly combines history and action, character studies and philosophical reflections... Anybody who ventures to read the 700 pages of Krishnas Schatten will be rewarded with a breathtaking abundance of stories as well as an idiom that moves effortlessly between a courtly tone and contemporary colloquial language.
Cornelia ZetzscheBavarian Radio
A gripping voyage of discovery into the world of palace intrigues, which are not in the least fairy-tale like ... the description of an obsession is far closer to Beckett than to the Sheherazade.
Volker IsfortAbendzeitung