Crafty Artisans
Charu Gupta
THE DOLLMAKERS' ISLAND by Anuradha Kumar Gyaana Books, 2011, 240 pp., 225
August 2011, volume 35, No 10

The Past: Radcliffe’s Line Makers on the Dollmakers’ Island’, the title of the first chapter is self evident and spells out the theme of the novel. The plot swings between the past and the present; between history, fantasy and the real, thus making it a surreal satire; and from Ashoka’s times to the contemporary internet age. It is a parable stuffed with a multitude of characters; too many stories; suspense, intrigue and unrequited love; multiple analogies and fecund symbols. The story is neither linear nor final, and therefore creates an uneasiness at all stages, even in comfort zones.

Leela, the central character around whom the story and infinite characters of past and present revolve is a mysterious person herself as she is the only woman on the island from where Shyam her lover is supposed to be missing. Leela’s story is ‘the present’ but she appears timeless and her constant makeovers, her braids which hold secrets, her actual or pretended loss of voice add to her cryptic personality. It is not easy to decipher her identity.

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