Review Extract

Lakshmi Kannan has created some striking stories in eschatological situations, with characters hovering between life and death, and life after death. These are feats of phenomenological explorations leading to a strange epistemology, but no less human…the atmosphere pitches the reader between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead…The ICU in hospital is the dominant trope with its glass partition, rows of beds with motionless bodies, all breathing through ventilators, the magical monitors drawing electronic patterns capturing the tussle between life and death.

The most powerful part of the narrative in “Please, Dear God” is the way the distraught husband sees across the glass pane of the ICU, the act of the nurse in pulling the white sheet tightly over the head of the dead and tucking in the sides ‘neatly and decisively’ in one symbolic act to distinguish the dead from the living.

In “A Sky All Around” is from the point of view of the consciousness of a patient who is in a coma. The paradox is that he is able to hear every voice around him, and even distinguish its quality as ‘silky’, ‘coarse, but female’ (‘That woman cannot sing. She better not’ – look at the cheeky humour). Indeed, it is an eschatological narrative, the ruminating consciousness being that of an elderly man Varadarajan, clinically almost dead, but with his spirit travelling in unchartered realms, finding the boundary between the earth and, sky and ocean sliding perpetually There is memory, but no reassuring knowledge in his disembodied sojourns between life and death. We are in a Yeatsian Byzantine world where spirits float and ‘breathless mouths may summon’ (to use Yeats’s memorable line). His consciousness expands so much beyond space that he loses his identity. Hence, when his mother calls out affectionately, "Varad, Varad." he is beyond any interpellation now. She is young, like Bhishma’s mother Ganga and he is old and careworn, like Bhishma! He is confused by this incongruity and replies, ’There, there, my girl, you’re mistaken. I’m very much older than you.’

Surely, Lakshmi Kannan has created in this story an ethos which is amazing.

C T Indra “Phenomenological Explorations”, Introduction to Nandanvan & Other Stories

Nandanvan (a legendary garden) is a story animated by an almost Grecian chorus of birds who are fed everyday by Thatha, an old man, whose children are already quarreling over how to apportion his property. In a twist inspired by the Panchatantra perhaps, the outraged birds make Thatha their own when he dies, speeding him away from his avaricious sons.

Tulsi Badrinath “Soulful Delights”, Deccan Herald, Sunday Magazine, January 2012