Sita has been sent to Valmiki’s ashram, at Rama’s command never to return. This extraordinary novel is her story—she who, as much as Rama, is the heart of Ramayana, one of the greatest living epics. It is also the story of Lakshmana, crushed by guilt on Sita’s abduction; of Soorpanakka, shocked at Ravana’s being struck by love, alien to the rakshasas’ code; and of Rama’s turmoil when confronted by public gossip about Sita, his beloved wife. Through the remembrances of these and other characters, Sita comes alive as a figure of womanhood.
Inspired by myriad age-old and culturally diverse retellings, Vayu Naidu creates a rich, deeply moving and original work of fiction, Sita’s Ascent illuminates the physical and emotive landscape of a woman in exile, who crosses the desert of loss and ascends the abyss of abandonment with the power of love that transforms the narrators and the listeners. Sita’s Ascent (Penguin: 2013) was nominated for the Commonwealth Book Award. Startling and nuanced analysis of the complex relationships from the epic Ramayana (Girish Karnad). It humanises the divine.