My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first fell in love with Mandana's writing after reading a bunch of short stories by her in an anthology published by Unisun Publishers sometime back. Among the stories in the book, Mandana's beautiful words and stories stood out.I promptly copied a few passages that I found riveting into my book I keep for chronicling memorable writing i come across. And then ...boom.. Tiger Hills happened and she got catapulted into literary stardom.I have been wanting to read this book ever since i attended her book's launch in Chennai, and when I found a copy in my library ,I promptly picked it up. Set in Coorg, Tiger hills is the gut-wrenchingly sad tale that chronicles the lives and times of Devi, the fiery Coorg, Devanna ,her childhood companion, Machaiah, the famed Tiger-killer and their children. The book sprawls languorously across vast time periods (1800's to second world war) and is a beautiful essay in complex human emotions.
A saga of unhappiness is unleashed in the lives of the protagonists ,because of circumstances that are not under their control, really. Mandana's writing is magic:it is like perfectly tempered liquid chocolate waiting to crystallize into perfectly formed chocolate chunks. Coorg's gorgeous topography comes alive in her descriptions.Though a tad slow towards the end( the reason I had to reduce the rating to 4 stars from five I had initially planned on giving it), I enjoyed reading the book immensely. Devi has to be one of the strongest heroines I've encountered in a book in the recent times.Mandana has carefully sculpted her personality,making everything "grey" and not just simple black and white. I loved how Coorgi traditions and folk stories were woven beautifully into the narrative.
Tiger hills is a literary triumph, a celebration of meandering plot and lush words : an absolutely stunning debut novel. Highly recommended to all lovers of historical fiction.