Circus Folk and Village Freaks — by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal
Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications
Price: Rs. 399 INR(Hardcover), Rs. 300 INR(Kindle Edition)
Buy here: https://amzn.to/2FLfUtS
Meet the beautiful people of the Circus, and the freaks who live in the Village next to them. Mangled, jangled, misunderstood, all find place in the rich tapestry of this book.
Siamese twins separate to lose half a heart each, and find snake-man and tiger-taming lovers. A man bitten by a crocodile becomes a God, and a Devadasi woos the entire countryside with her culinary artistry.
Fates intertwined lead sometimes to tragedy, sometimes happy summits of fame. A clown finds his place in Hollywood and mute animals break unspeakable chains. A twisted man falls in love with a mirror and a white man is unmade by the Indian sun.
In this book are tales for every season and every reason. Tales of human depravity that take innocent lives, and of a murderers’ insanity that follows, a fitting revenge by nature, red in tooth and claw.
These stories are told in the form of narrative poems in rhyming couplets.
Look inside and you will find, you have been to this Village. Surely, you have been to this Circus too.
About the author:
Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal holds an MA from Kings College, London. She is a recipient of the 14th Beullah Rose Poetry Prize by Smartish Pace. Sshe was shortlisted for the Third Coast Fiction Prize, 2018. She is featured on the Masthead of the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review as a Frequent Contributor. A popular Spoken Word poet, she performs at events across venues in India. Her page poetry is featured in reputed international literary journals such as Smartish Pace, Dunes Reviews, SOFTBLOW, Broad River Review, Gyroscope Review and many more. Her poetry will be anthologized alongside the work of renowned poets such as Gulzar and Piyush Mishra in 2019. She lives with her 4-year-old son, husband and two dog babies in Pune, India.
Find her work here:
My take on the book:
Circus Folk and Village Freaks as the title signifies is collection of 18 tales, of imaginary villages with weird people and bizarre humans ultimately ending up in a circus. The tales are written in poem style, with a rhythm to the lines. The stories though with a consistent theme of a village or circus or both, touch multiple issues like homosexuality, infidelity, superstitions, greed and the list goes on. The beautiful illustrations at the beginning of each story also gives a quick summary of the story ahead.
The stories at the beginning of the book kind of shocks the reader with their unconventional content and hence mid way through the book, the reader kind of gets the mood of the book. There is a story of a crocodile man, twins with conjoined hearts, a devadasi discovering her cooking skills, a snake man and a clown finding their place in the circus, the stories are as varied and bizarre as it can get. However, the struggle of the protagonist, in finding their place in this big bad world is the soul of each story.
On the surface, each story seems to be narrating a fairy tale, a story too hard to believe and too strange to happen in reality. But the heart touching vibe is what remains with the reader at the end of each of them. Like how a heart may be physically separated but the feelings it arouses will never be the same if divided!
Starting from the gorgeous cover to the characters in each story to their themes, the book feels very special. The poetic style is so soothing and equally fascinating. I could only wish the author explored more backdrops for the stories. Pick this one to be taken on a journey of multiple emotions and each story is guaranteed to leave a strong mark and a beautiful message.