Vetaal and Vikram is a playful retelling of one of India’s most celebrated cycles of stories. The narrative of King Vikram and the Vetaal is located within the Kathasaritsagara, an eleventh-century Sanskrit text. The Vetaal who is neither living nor dead is a consummate storyteller, and Vikram is a listener who can neither speak nor stay silent. Together they are destined to walk a labyrinth of stories in the course of a moonless night in a cremation ground.
In 1870, eleven of the Vetaal’s stories were adapted to English by the famed scholar-explorer Richard Francis Burton who tailored them to his audience’s gothic taste. Vetaal and Vikram is a contemporary response that includes Burton within its storytelling folds. Fantastical and delightful, this retelling dissolves the lines between speaker and listener, desire and duty, life and death.
“In Vetaal and Vikram, which is part literary pastiche, part historical biography, she dredges up these ancient tales and winds them around the story of a Victorian explorer who was their most celebrated interpreter. In the process, Prabhu gives us a shimmering cover version that captures the strange magic of the original.” – Nicholas Jubber in Asian Review of Books. https://asianreviewofbooks.com/content/vetaal-and-vikram-riddles-of-the-undead-by-gayathri-prabhu/
“Vetaal and Vikram: Riddles of the Undead is exemplary, in my opinion, because it is a retelling of a history of literature, blurring the edges between postmodern writing and the tradition of oral storytelling.” – Michael Varghese in Asiaville News. https://www.asiavillenews.com/article/writing-a-retelling-a-review-of-vetaal-and-vikram-riddles-of-the-undead-24703
“A light-hearted retelling of the celebrated Indian mythology, the novel is radically different from everything she has written before.” – Shruthi Dileep in Reading Room Co. http://www.readingroomco.com/2020/08/24/retelling-the-tale-in-conversation-with-gayathri-prabhu
“[Vetaal and Vikram]…stories that talk about love, lust, adultery and has a very liberal view about same-sex relationships…a fresh way of presenting folklore” – Anamika Nandekar in Sakaal Times: https://www.sakaltimes.com/art-culture/are-you-clever-vikram-crack-riddle-then-43938
‘To Write Means to be Vulnerable’ — Interview by Archana Pai Kulkarni in She The People: http://www.shethepeople.tv/books/author-gayathri-prabhu-vetaal-vikram-book