Written by Nalini Ramachandran and illustrated by Abhishek Choudhury, Lore of the Land: Storytelling Traditions of India is a book about Mohini, a legendary storyteller in search of her voice.
Before getting into the review, I would like to thank the author for this book – writing about the storytelling traditions of our diverse India is nearly an impossible task. The author has attempted this and has given life to all those storytelling traditions. A much-needed book and a must-read in this digital era.
Disclaimer: It is hard to justify the author’s excellent work in this single post. IMO, every storytelling tradition and the illustration needs a separate post. I am amazed by the amount of research done by the author to compose this book.
Our life is our own story. We all say stories without our knowledge. Be it sharing about our vacation or gardening or some random office/school tales, aren’t they all stories? Lore of the Land is a story of stories. Is it the story of the 10-year-old girl Mohini or the story of the spirit Katha? Is it the stories of stones, jungles, and mountains and paintings and dolls? It is EVERYTHING. As the first chapter aptly puts – it’s the story of storytelling told through the story of Mohini.
The Story of Storytelling
Mohini belongs to the family of legendary storytellers. Everyone believes weaving a story is in her genes, but she doesn’t believe it. Under stress, she runs away from her home, only to meet the vivacious spirit Katha who traps her under the spell. As a hostage, she doesn’t have any option but to go on a tour of India and to learn the storytelling traditions. It reminds us of the story of Vikramaditya and Betaal.
Along with Mohini and Katha, the author and the illustrator take us to different parts of India and introduces thirty-eight traditions of storytelling from many hundreds. What happens to Mohini and does the spell break? Does she win her own battles with storytelling? You got to grab the book to know that. Hey, wait, not only for that but, to learn all the storytelling traditions and the craftsmanship of our ancestors.
I liked everything about The Lore of the Land. Right from the illustrations to the yellow boxes where the author explains the location of Mohini and the spirit and the cyan-green boxes which has all the mythological stories – I love everything. The book arouses the reader’s curiosity and its thought-provoking as well. The author has done a fantastic job in explaining some of the elaborate tales.
It’s a sad truth that the story-telling tradition is fading away. Some are even extinct. Thanks to Penguin India for publishing this book at the right time. A perfect book for young readers and adults too. This book not only enlightens Mohini but the readers too. We can all be storytellers. Now don’t wait. Grab this book, read and start writing/saying/illustrating your stories right away!