At 31 on this list along with dear friends, respected contemporaries and authors I admire.
Author Kiran Mandal
My Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
When Kamla Malik’s husband Nihar dies of a heart attack in Goa, she’s devastated. Haunted by the lack of closure, she tries mediums, séances, and Ouija boards to help her establish contact. All she wants is a final goodbye. She tries to find him in the twisted labyrinthine worlds that he now inhabits, but does she really want him back, and worse, if she finds him, will he let her go? Or is she, as the doctors believe, living in the tunnels of her mind, making it impossible for her to distinguish hallucination from reality? Coincidentally, her eccentric and ailing maternal aunt invites her to visit at her splendidly isolated and crumbling villa in Goa. Here, Kamla meets Victor, her aunt’s stepson. He stakes his claim over the villa and with it, over Kamla. While she accepts that…
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More Things on Heaven and Earth reviewed on Kamalini Reena’s blog:
The flair and gift of Manral’s penmanship is visible in every chapter. It is only by arduous practice such like is achieved, and a seasoned writer is she.
What Manral has achieved in the last ten percent of the novel, in my mind, is slow it down to a pitch that screams out to me. What a tour de force! I wasn’t expecting this and it blew my mind.
Read the entire review here: https://kamaliniwrites.com/more-things-in-heaven-earth-kiran-manral/
By Privy Trifles
How do you mourn the loss of love?
This question has haunted us many times. The initial reaction of shock, moving towards anger and slowly metamorphosing into grief before collapsing into acceptance of the loss- is a journey not many can make it through and remain whole. Death shatters us in ways unknown. However much we want to tell ourselves, nothing can ever prepare us for the death of a loved one. And when that happens, we are left battling the pain for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years.
Best-selling author Kiran Manral’s latest work More things on heaven and earth (Amaryllis Publishers, 2021) is a mirror agonizing the pain and trauma of losing a loved one. Her primary character Kamla Mallik loses her husband and is completely devastated. Seeking closure, she ventures out to everything and anything that can faintly promise her that. From Ouija boards to mediums, she tries it all to no avail. Her heart is restless and her mind is in terrible agony. All she wants is one chance to say goodbye to her husband.
Kamla Mallik’s story holds you tightly enough to not let you go from Page 1 and loose enough to not suffocate you. As she tiptoes through her grief, you cannot help but feel for her. Her memories from a not-so-distant past and her inability to accept her present put a huge question mark on her future.
Despite being surrounded by friends and family, she is lonely in this battle of overcoming her husband’s death. Mallik reaches a stage where she wants to move on, but cannot. There is much more at stake here than just her emotions. Kamla Mallik discovers all that is at stake, one by one. These secrets are scary and life-threatening. The challenge to guess for whom!
It is interesting to see Manral grow as a writer through her books. From dabbling in fiction to non-fiction, experimenting with romance and drama before writing books on parenting, she has tried her hand at it all.
However, in this book, Manral unexpectedly surprises you. The tension created in the narrative is palpable throughout. The characters are an interesting mix of eeriness and eccentrics. The prose is layered beautifully with the perfect dose of suspense, thrill, romance, and mystery. With not a single dull moment in the narrative, the story is captivating till the end. (And maybe, after that too!)
Exploring various themes like death, relationships, love, and grief, Manral weaves an exceptional tale of love and redemption which ties the past with the future in a complicated present. The complexity of families and the secrets buried deep within the closets of their houses are bared to us in this book. The icing on the cake has to be the detailing done by Manral. Every aspect of the book is a visual treat for the reader as it creates stunning imagery of the place and the people in the story.
A strongly recommended read for its sheer thrill, captivating narrative, and some unforgettable characters.
Read the original here
By Shinie Antony
Here is assured, confident prose. Atmospherics are heavy, moody, and inhale you into the strangeness.
I had come here on the wind, flying in on a tiny airplane filled with tourists, honeymooners and flight attendants with expressions that could curdle milk…’ Kamla Malik, the protagonist of Kiran Manral’s new novel More Things in Heaven and Earth, always takes the weather with her everywhere she goes. Minutely observant, hyper-sensitive, electrically alive on the inside, and newly widowed, she is on her way to meet a terminally ill aunt.
She leaves Bandra, a place that demands nothing but ‘breath and the ability to pay one’s bills’, and reaches Goa, where she seeks refuge in ‘the warm wood of the pews and the soft, melting eyes of the statue of Mother Mary’. Restless and footloose, Kamla lulls you into thinking she is ordinary. ‘When I looked in the mirror today, I saw a stranger. The woman staring back at me was unblinkingly confident. She had found her centre. Her eyes were calm and did not brim over with the saltiness of the soul that often anymore. She was at peace. I was at peace.’
But her late husband is hissing at her; how did he die? Lotusface, he calls her even now like he used to when he was alive, and she trembles because ‘I was Here and he was There’, where people usually maintain a stoic silence. There is mourning, besides doubts, distrust, twists and turns, and other-worldly whispers. ‘Grief is grey and damp, a marshland of emotions that sucks you in, tendrils of mist that caress you, asphyxiate you. Grieving is the journey you do alone, a penitence, a pilgrimage, an affirmation of being alive in the face of death that shadows us every waking moment.’ But Kamla is also a creature of the flesh. Takes two lovers, falls in love with one of them.
This is Manral’s third outing in the eerie ether—after The Face at the Window and Missing, Presumed Dead—and shows her growth and surety as a writer. Here is assured, confident prose penned by a writer whose dark side has started to have fun. Atmospherics are heavy, moody, and inhale you into the strangeness where intangibles and the unsaid are always present. ‘When you finally gather the courage to release what you’ve been hanging on to for a while, you realise it is not just a release, but also a relief. It frees you to find something else to hold on to, something else that was also waiting to be held.’
Kamla is more a disembodied spirit, tethered to nothing and no one. ‘The waters were getting higher every year, they told me. The world, beyond this canopy of green, ringed by the incoming sea and the outgoing river, was changing. Perhaps, here I would be safe from the change I didn’t want to be part of. Falling off the radar was easy.’ But her intentions are noble, secretly unselfish: ‘I was insulated from the world. Or perhaps, the world was insulated from me.’
More Things in Heaven and Earth is a haunting dirge, fusing heartbreak, hope and hallucinations. Loss runs softly through the pages, blurring the print. As Manral writes, ‘Grief isn’t elegant. It is messy, snot-nosed, feral, aching. A beast that slobbers into one’s sane moments and scratches the door of one’s composure insistently, demanding to be let out.’
(And the first review is here. Be still my beating heart!)
The plot, straddling a guilty past and an ominous present, is craftily spun
By Jairam N. Menon
The mind does not readily accept the passing of a loved one. It recoils, rebels, and in desperation, reimagines all that has happened – a hundred different keys to open a slammed door that will not budge. When nothing works, it seeks refuge in a fragile but deeply felt universe where deaths can be undone. Kamla Malik, protagonist of Kiran Manral’s More Things in Heaven and Earth often exits the world where she lost her husband in mysterious circumstances to inhabit one where he is there to smile at her, pat her, pet her and call her ‘moonface’. It is not an easy migration for the young woman, however, because as Eliot had put it, memory mixes with desire. In Kamla’s case, the emotional vortex curdles into an intoxicating, almost inflammable brew.
As a heroine battling to prevent herself from tipping over into the death spiral of insanity, Kamla holds your attention. She claims to look for closure but could well be seeking continuity. There is a past she cannot erase and a future she will not enter. She has friends aplenty and at least some parts of a caring family but all they do is accentuate her loneliness. That leaves her in her own space and her own time zone. It is neither here nor there, neither now nor then. Apart from a heroine, alternatively assertive and vulnerable, there’s a lot going for More Things. Fear stalks the pages. When you get acquainted with the cast of characters, you do not try to figure out their age but rather speculate how long it will be before they die. Horror of different shapes and shades is everywhere – from the attic in their hillside home, congested with family skeletons to an entire upper wing in a Goan villa where ghosts have taken up permanent residence. Even when the sun shines cheerily on contented palm trees or when lovers arch into each other’s arms, you know it’s only a matter of time before the sinister gains the upper hand again. The plot, straddling a guilty past and an ominous present is craftily spun, and borne along on Manral’s lush prose.
Here is a filigree artist whose medium is words. While there is a story to tell, Manral also has pictures to paint – of the place, the people and of the labyrinth inside her mind. She is fastidious about detail, even if it means venturing into beguiling byways that take the plot off the road. Riveting as these digressions are, they come at a price. When you have an obsessive miniaturist in charge of the narrative, the story cannot be rushed. Impatient readers may want out.
Well, it’s Kiran Manral, and this is her trademark style – whether she is tickling your funny bone, or sending chills up spines. For those who prefer journeys to arrivals and do not mind digressions before getting to destination, ‘More Things…’ is well worth the ticket.
More Things in Heaven and Earth
Price: Rs 399
Read it here
An urban woman is confronted with who she could have been.
As promised, here’s another short story for you. This I wrote for Verve many years ago, also triggered by my daily commute into office when I ran the creative department of our (now closed) advertising agency. My previous short story on Wattpad, The Man With The Placard, also came about through observations on my daily commute. Come to think of it, it did take a couple of hours, but it did provide me with a lot of fodder for thought.
Do read The Two Faces of Radha here.
And there’s last week’s micro fiction, Breathe, a futuristic sci-fi, which I published on Earth Day, (first published in Cosmopolitan many years ago) about the possible toxicity of a future Earth, that has quickly climbed to a star and ribbon impressive achievement on Wattpad. Read it here.
Of course, the first story I published, The Man With A Placard, is also up, and with a ribbon and badge all its own. Do read it too, if you haven’t.
If you haven’t yet, do follow me on Wattpad here. I promise you a new short story every Friday.
And yes, my new book is now finally live on Amazon. It is my third release this pandemic, the first was the e-book, How To Raise Kids With Hope And Wonder In Times of A Pandemic and Climate Change published by Amazon Westland (yes, I know that’s a mouthful of a title, but it is a lovely read even if I say so myself) and the second is the absolutely hilarious The Kitty Party Murder, published by Harper Collins India which was out in November 2020. This one, More Things on Heaven and Earth, is a very different book. It is surreal, haunting, lyrical. If you’ve read and enjoyed The Face at the Window and Missing, Presumed Dead, you will like More Things in Heaven and Earth as well.
This is what it is about:
“When Kamla Malik’s husband Nihar dies of a heart attack in Goa, she’s devastated. Haunted by the lack of closure, she tries mediums, séances, and Ouija boards to help her establish contact. All she wants is a final goodbye. She tries to find him in the twisted labyrinthine worlds that he now inhabits, but does she really want him back, and worse, if she finds him, will he let her go? Or is she, as the doctors believe, living in the tunnels of her mind, making it impossible for her to distinguish hallucination from reality? Coincidentally, her eccentric and ailing maternal aunt invites her to visit at her splendidly isolated and crumbling villa in Goa. Here, Kamla meets Victor, her aunt’s stepson. He stakes his claim over the villa and with it, over Kamla. While she accepts that Victor is her here and now, why does Nihar continue to torment her? Is she doomed to be forever haunted by him? An exquisitely sinister tale of bereavement and the grey lands between the dead and the living, both within the mind and outside of it, More Things in Heaven and Earth is the horror of what happens when love, obsession and betrayal collide.”
I do hope you read it. Available on Amazon here: tinyurl.com/ar5rv6cu
I hope you are staying safe, and you and your loved ones are all well in these trying times. Don’t forget to double mask, sanitise and stay away from crowds.
Read it here
#Dystopia #ScienceFiction #ShortStory
If you’ve read and enjoyed The Face at the Window and Missing, Presumed Dead, here’s More Things in Heaven and Earth. My third book of the pandemic. It feels rather awkward to release a book during the pandemic. I feel apologetic to even put out requests to pre-order on my whatsapp, social media. Everyone is struggling right now, there is illness, death, grief that is choking us, as a people, as a country. But I do owe it to my book to talk about it. It is a strange book, it is dark, it is twisted and I promise you it will haunt you.
I cannot thank my editor at Amaryllis Manjul, Rashmi Menon enough for taking these chances on me, and my strangely disturbing books. Thanks to Amaryllis Manjul, Vikas Rakheja and Manoj Kulkarni for the trust and faith they place in me. To Mishta Roy at Drawater for this haunting cover. To Ankita, at Manjul who is getting this book out into the world. To you, my readers, who will read it, and hopefully find it thudding with your heartbeat, who will talk about it with other readers, who will gather it to you and make it yours.
On Pre-orders Now