Author Manreet Sodhi Someshwar’s The Radiance of a Thousand Suns has won the PFAC-VOW Books Awards and Laadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity. Her novel puts together Mahabharata, along with the poems of Bulleh Shah and the legend of Heer. The Radiance of a Thousand Suns then is mythical and personal, interweaving various strands of history.
The story centers on Niki who is determined to finish her father’s unfinished work. For this, she undertakes a journey from India to New York. It is there that her search for a mysterious immigrant woman transforms into an obsession affecting her marriage, her relationship with her daughter, and her own self. However, a natural calamity causes her present and past to intersect. The book, spanning across the monumental times of history, brings to the fore the choices women are compelled to make.
Speaking on the win, the author said, “In a pandemic year, when people sought refuge in the pages of a book, so happy to know that some found comfort in my novel, The Radiance of a Thousand Suns, too.”
The book mostly received positive reviews. The one in The Hindu touched upon the style and theme of the book. “The novel has three sections, with different kinds of numbering and style demarcating them. The chapters with the Hindu-Arabic numerals take the main story ahead but in a non-linear way, thus creating suspense; the chapters with the Roman numerals weave in the framework of the Mahabharata to suggest that the stories of our land have been playing in circles over many millennia. The chapters with Roman numerals and blank pages speak of the silences that mark Jyot’s experiences of Partition, which left her bereft of her family; of 1984, when her husband and children were murdered; and of post 9/11 New York, where she finds herself a vulnerable migrant,” it read.
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