‘Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara, Mandodari – each of the Pancha Kanyas is fascinating. Ahalya’s storyhas been told and retold several times, sometimes with varying accounts across texts. What was herrelationship with Gautam and Indra? What was her crime? How was she redeemed? Why is she amongthe Pancha Kanya? There have been modern retellings and interpretations too. Koral Dasgupta’s wonderfulretelling adds to this corpus, with a lyrical and poetic quality. The image that will remain with you is of theMist. That is the reason Ahalya, and this rendition, is so enthralling.’ – Bibek Debroy
‘Koral Dasgupta’s evocation of Ahalya, the first of the Panch Kanyas, the five virtuous women from Indianmyth, is an enigmatic tale about purity, chastity, seduction, and redemption, told from the perspectiveof the eternal feminine.’ – Namita Gokhale
‘Amazing premise and approach. This is one unique take on an age-old tale. Brilliant and intriguing.’– Anand Neelkantan
' "Go, woman, find your world yourself. The joy you seek deserves to be discovered." Armed with this advice, Ahalya sets off on her life's journey. The magical and thought-provoking adventure that follows will intrigue and mesmerize readers.' - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
'Impressed. I literally never imagined the interior world of a character from mythology in this way, let alone contemplating this way of reflecting on the soul, embodiment, desire, and a woman's experience of the Brahma and Indra dominated worlds! Really powerful.' - Prof. Brian A. Hatcher
'In this original and spirited interpretation of the tale of Ahalya, Koral Dasgupta gives voice, character, and agency to an enigmatic and fascinating female figure from ancient Hindu lore, while exploring and seeking to resolve the proverbial and vexing tension between asceticism and sensuality.' - Prof. Philip Lutgendorf
'Koral has outdone herself. Lyrical, sharp, wise, playful, questioning.' - Kiran Manral
'Engaging and cinematic narrative.' - Srijit Mukherjee
'A stream of consciousness; a spiritual telling. It rescued and redeemed the purity ruse. Koral is a visual writer.' - Nabila Jamshed
'Dasgupta makes old myths contemporary and relevant with an understated elan and compactness.'
'A stunning read. Fluent and engaging. What a fine writer!'
- Fiona Sampson
'Panchakanya and other women, reinterpreted, is a most pertinent call. Ahalya is beautifully written and the little details and imagined conversations bring the character alive. I also enjoyed the almost surrealistic movement between mythical time and ours. It’s a reminder that we in India live by a philosophy of transitions, in-between-ness. Ahalya is amongst us.'
'A stunning piece of literature.' - Dipannita Sharma
Media Verdict :
An ecocritical reading of Ahalya reveals the exploration of an ancient connection with nature that’s sacred, intimate, and as we are in the midst of an environmental emergency, vital to reconcile with today. FIRSTPOST
...the brilliance of Dasgupta’s retelling is not just within the confines of that transformation itself, but rather, the importance of being seen, validated, and loved as you are. Southern Humanities Review
In a most intriguing retelling, Dasgupta’s narrative turns the seduction story on its head, making Ahalya the seducer instead of the seduced. SCROLL
Bloggers' Take (selected) :
Koral’s sensitive novel is ought to be read by every thinking Indian, affianced, married or separated. It shows, with exceptional fictional skill, the subtle and everyday way in which men and women are bludgeoned to play scripted subordinate roles.
Such stories are the need of the hour (and generations to come) which gives a better meaning to the equality amongst gender from the mythological lores which was long suppressed by the rise of Monastic orders and need to be retold or at least reinterpreted for the coming generation to learn lessons from.
Chandigarh Lit Fest (panel discussion)
Kalinga Lit Fest (panel discussion)
Think India (Facebook Live)
Millennium Mams' (Facebook Live)