Vetaal and Vikram: Riddles of the Undead

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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.

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REVIEWS

“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

“[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