Tales of India: Folk Tales from Bengal, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu

By Svabhu Kohli

Rating: 3 stars

I’ve felt my lack of knowledge of the Indian side of my heritage over the years, so it was interesting to read this book, and compare it to the folk- and fairy-tales that I’m familiar with. In some ways, the stories were different, as reflecting their background, with kings with multiple (sometimes mutually jealous) wives, and very different animals. But in other ways, tropes that I was familiar with did pop up, such as the hero with his friends who all had their own power and who helped him at the opportune time (Prince Lionheart and His Three Friends), or the battle of wits between two friends/rivals (Eesara and Caneesara).

The illustrations in this edition were absolutely delightful. Stylised and distinct, the illustrators (the only ones credited with working on this book, by the way, no mention of the editor) have a style that really fits with the stories. The stories themselves are divided into three sections: animal tales; outwitting and outwitted; live and death; although, of course, there’s quite a lot of overlap between the sections.

These aren’t stories that I grew up with, but the tone is similar enough to something like Grimm that they have the feel that they could have been. It’s an interesting book and if these stories were old friends, then I would treasure it, but as it is, I’m content to have just read it and move on.

Book details

ISBN: 9781452165912
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Year of publication: 2018

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