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Indian novelist Kumar gets overwhelming response
By Imran Mojib November 06, 2018
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SHARJAH: Debutant Indian novelist Divya Kumar received overwhelming response as she introduced “The Shrine of Death” to booklovers at the ongoing Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).

Published by Bloomsbury India, the novel was released in India in April 2018 to glowing reviews by the press and readers alike. Since then its arrival was awaited by the UAE book aficionados.

It is a fast-paced thriller dealing with the hot-button issue of idol theft, and has a heady mix of crime, mystery, romance and the paranormal.

During a conversation at the SIBF with the acclaimed poet and author Anuradha Vijayakrishnan, Kumar said that the book is a heavily fictionalised account of actual events that occurred in Tamil Nadu, India, in 2009, when a set of ancient Chola idols disappeared from an abandoned temple, and were later discovered to have been smuggled out of the country. This was the watershed case that eventually led to the high-profile arrest of Manhattan-based art dealer and smuggler Subhash Kapoor.

“The Shrine of Death” tells the story of Prabha Sinha, an IT professional in the south Indian city of Chennai, who is plunged into a murky world of idol theft, murder, and betrayal after she gets a mysterious phone call one night from her old friend Sneha Pillai. As she races to find answers before the people she loves get hurt, she seeks the help of Jai Vadehra, a troubled young man with a tragic past, and police officer Gerard Ratnaraj of the Idol Wing, CID, whom she can’t help but be drawn to. Their search takes them from Chennai’s newsrooms and universities to the abandoned sepulchral shrine of a Chola queen in the heartland of Tamil Nadu. And here there is a twist in the tale.

Divya Kumar is a journalist, writer and blogger, currently based in Dubai. She spent her early 20s studying and working in the US, dabbling in web-design and media studies, before settling down to a career in journalism. After returning to India, she joined The Hindu newspaper in Chennai, writing for The Hindu Metroplus, covering mainly the book and art beat.

“I started writing this book when I took a break for the birth of my first child. Naturally, it took me three years to complete the book. Fortunately, I didn’t have to run after dozens of publishers. The only difficulty I faced was to convince famous literary agent Kanishka Gupta to have a look at my work. Once he agreed to, it was quite smooth as the editor, Himanjli Sankar, also had confidence in my work,” she added. Encouraged by the tremendous response, she has already started working on its sequel.

Currently available at Jashanmal Books stand at the SIBF, the title will shortly be available at leading bookstores in the UAE.
 

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