Manil Suri and The Age of Shiva
Quail Ridge Books and Music—In Manil Suri's new novel, headstrong Meera fantasizes about a romance with her sister's boyfriend, and pays a high price for her erotic longing. Her son's birth initiates an unexpected maternal rapture, and Suri challenges himself as a writer by examining this potent Indian cultural flashpoint, the mother-son bond, from the female perspective. "I tried my best not to airbrush Meera's character or make her a noble heroine. My hope is that readers will be able to see her as a complete human being."
Meera's tale is set against a cavalcade of postcolonial independence in India, where religions, politics and class push and scrape against one another, eventually creating 60 years (so far) of democracy. The great trilogy of Hindu deities, Vishnu the Preserver, Shiva the Destroyer and Brahma the Creator provides Suri with his framework for a fictional triptych. Suri says of Shiva, "Rather than the cliché of the ferocious destroyer, the attribute to which I was most attracted was that of the ascetic. He withdraws from life to meditate, and his unavailability evokes an irresistible yearning for him, which can never be fulfilled." A mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, Suri also lectures engagingly on popularizing the culture of math and his PowerPoint presentation "Taming Infinity" can be experienced on YouTube. His best selling first novel, The Death of Vishnu, was a finalist for the PEN/ Faulkner award. —Laura Boyes
Manil Suri's global book tour stops at Quail Ridge tonight at 7 p.m.