Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar is the first historical fiction and one of the longest books I have read. Though it talks about Mewar in sixteenth century, it’s contemporary style of writing is something which makes the reading a wonderful experience. Surprisingly, it never looses the Indian touch.
Narrated by Maharaj Kumar (referring to the Prince of Mewar Bhojraj), the novel talks about history of Mewar in that period, the Royal lifestyle of Prince, the warfare, first invasion of Mughals in India and the internal fights for the throne in a kingdom. Maharaj Kumar, the main protagonist, is married to a woman in love with someone else. He refers to her as “Greeneyes”, “ Little Saint” but never as Meera, one of the most influential female characters in 16th century India.
Maharaj Kumar gets the sympathy of the reader throughout, for many reasons. He is neglected by his wife (and the rival being none other than Lord Krishna himself), doesn’t get the throne inspite of being the eldest son, never gets neither the love nor respect he deserves. There is a lot written about Meera but not from the perspective of a husband whom she could never love!
I could relate to the book and the characters more, firstly, because I have read about Meera and watched TV serials about her. Secondly, and more importantly, I belong to the state of Rajasthan (more or less Mewar in the book). Atleast, I felt that the book will not be enjoyed as much by readers who do not know a bit already about the history of Mewar and Meerabai.
Its an amazing amalgamation of history, love, politics, patriotism, diplomacy, musical influence on life but the superb writing is what makes it shine. I would have probably liked it more if it had fewer pages to read! Nonetheless , its a marvel in historical fiction and recommended for anyone interested in history of Mewar or a fascinating take on contemporary literature.