Panchaali’s Mahabarat, The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, published in 2008, went on to become an international best seller. It is the story of Mahabharata from Draupadi’s perspective – or you could say it’s Draupadi’s stroy from birth and before to death and after, told by her!
We have all heard or seen as television series, all the various different stories and events surrounding the Mahabarat, the great war of the good vs the evil, but the fact that the stories are told by Draupadi in the book, with her feelings and emotions, her views and opinions, makes the book a very interesting read. The Palace of Illusions provides an insightful version of a story that is all about men and war from a woman’s point of view- and that too a woman who is born when a son is being prayed for, made to marry five brothers, pawned off in a game and humiliated in a court full of wise men.
The author, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, has chosen to give her own spun to Draupadi’s love life (not sure if she actually found any evidence of that in the scriptures), but the tale never loses you. You stay interested and wanting more right to the very end.
Yes, the book makes a truly gripping read. Its pace is excellent, and the stories are told at appropriate times, in a concise manner. Pack it in your travel bag.
Divakaruni’s latest novel, Oleander Girl, is an Oprah’s Book Club recommendation and is also on the top-ten national bestsellers list in India.
About the author- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has authored other famous books like The Mistress of Spices and Arranged Marriage, amongst others. Divakaruni was born in Kolkata and did her graduate studies in the US. She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and lives in Houston, Texas.