Jayanthi's life story in a glance
Award-winning accomplished Author Jayanthi Sankar, born and brought up in India lives in Singapore since 1990. Her highly acclaimed collection of short stories – Dangling Gandhi, was the winner out of the seven finalists in the category of fiction: short story in 2020 International Book Award American book fest. The Literary Titan award is another international award it was bestowed with. Other nominations/shortlists for Dangling Gandhi include NE8x 2020, The Indian Awaz-Guwahati2020, Voice of words-Dehradun.
She received the Excellence Award 2020 by Four Clover Publication for accomplished writer and an Artist. She’s been published in several magazines and e-zines like the indianruminations, museindia, The Wagon, inOpinion. Her short stories have found places in various anthologies including ‘the other’.
She has been invited to participate in the panels of literary festivals such as (Asia Pacific Writers & Translators) APWT 2018 at Gold coast, Singapore Writers Festival, Seemanchal International Literary festival, ASEAN- India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Writers Festival. A watercolor artist, she has been a freelancer for more than a decade and a half, with three years of experience in journalism.
The book: "Misplaced Heads"
“Misplaced Heads” is a well-researched Historical Fiction with a terrific research on every detail of the repertoire, the training of the devadasis, and their style. It was astonishing, to think about how she could even decipher various adavus and various mudras used by the dancers. The readers will find the unveiling of the characters and the experiences of the temple dancer communities are brought seamlessly well in this book.
The book shows a great variation of the reality by taking us back to the period of 1st Century B.C, Early Medieval Era and bring us again to the present day. There was a detailed mention about the classical dance namely Bharatanatyam and also Odissi to some extent.
The book also gives us great insights about the plight of “Devadasis” during the Sangam/Medieval Era. The kind of emotions they would have gone through since they devoted their lives only to The Almighty apart from concentrating purely in spreading the Art (read it as Dance) couldn’t have been explained any better.
Review: “Misplaced Heads”
India had culturally been rich and thriving in the glorious past that perhaps no one is unaware of. The cultural effects still find their impact and place in the present-day writings and hold the interest of the readers firmly. After her short-story collection, “Dangling Gandhi,” Jayanthi comes up with a full-fledged work of fiction, “Misplaced Heads.”
As intriguing as the title sounds, the cover of the book holds the fascination of the readers with equal intensity and gives new sparks to their interest levels. Although the cover bears the influence of the classical forms of dance, the little Whatsapp logo is enough to hint about the nature of the narrative that is to follow. Thereafter, the prologue is where the author unveils the plot with her craft and even though she gives enough spoilers for the readers, they only work in igniting their interest. Jayanthi keeps the background inspired by the lives of the classical dancers and “Misplaced Heads” bears a modern reflection of what otherwise would have been merely a story of the past.
Keeping the fabric of the novel rooted in the past, Jayanthi makes the narrative swing in the past and present, and the balance holder is that little logo of Whatsapp that informs the readers of the moments when there are shifts in the narrative. With the basic theme of exploring the lives, the author explores other themes that continue developing in the backdrop. These are domestic life, societal constructs of the roles of men and women and stereotypes affecting their attitudes, love as an emotion not being bounded to any particular age, the fault of stars while the person is entirely innocent, and many more that keep the readers engrossed in the subject matter of “Misplaced Heads.”
Jayanthi takes the narrative at a swift pace where she chooses to keep the chapters unnamed and unnumbered and only giving necessary breaks after brief readings. This technique makes the readers impatient and hungry to know what is to follow next in the narrative development. In between, she also portrays the different states of mind that the characters would be having and also give the readers time to understand their actions. The frequent breaks let the readers have the time to think over every event that occurs in the text. Significantly less has been written about or from the point of view of dancers of any kind, and Jayanthi’s work can be considered a pioneer in this field of writing. Coupling it with the present scenario only adds more weight to the creation and makes sure that every kind of reader would want to read the book at least once. As a title, “Misplaced Heads” is quite interesting and perhaps symbolic of the human situation, which has been more or less the same in all times, whether it is history or the present. As a title, misplaced heads is just a summation of the whole work and almost everything that the author has tried to show. Hence, considering it relevant and meaningful would not be wrong.
The language that she uses is also another factor that can attract readers. It is finely written and easy to understand with the use of emojis, which are the characteristic of the present-day modes of expression. Apart from this, the other attractions of “Misplaced Heads” include well-developed characters who step out of the framework created by the author and take center stage when the narrative swings back to the times they are living. This gives the author the opportunity to develop her characters in the time they are living in and show the complexities that they were confronted with.
“Misplaced Heads” is a work that is bound to attract more readers than “Dangling Gandhi” as the work displays maturity and further development of the artistic craft of Jayanthi. Although the Singaporean factor does not lose its hold on the content yet, the time stages shown on the Indian soil are different. This factor makes the work more Indian than anything else. Apart from this, the author has done the necessary research and dug into facts of history before writing the book. This is obvious on seeing the footnotes she attaches whenever there is a need. Although the work is written from a postmodernist perspective, it remains open to examination from a historical viewpoint as well as in light of the present circumstances.
Readers who are interested in taking a plunge into the lives of people about whom significantly less has been written can take “Misplaced Heads” for reading as apart from being easy to read, there is a swift plot development without any lingering, and the action is enough to keep the readers in the thinking mode at one time and become a part of it in the very next moment.