Book Review: The Man in Riddles

Amir, Khusrau, Tales, pensieve, Book, Review, poetry, Sufi, riddles

Sufism has always intrigued me and so have its saints; Rumi being the most famous of them. The serene and subtle learning of the mystic culture is a soothing balm to the urban, modernised soul. Ankit Chadha in his book Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles explores the life and thoughts of the 12th century Sufi saint – Ab’ul Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn KhusrauAmir Khusrau.

Chadha in his book explores the Sufi saint’s life in 20 riddles. Each riddle is followed by a translation in English and a chapter from Khusrau’s life that has a deep connection with the riddle. The riddle in itself reflect an important aspect of the saint’s personality as well as his poetry. This style of presentation is unique. This is possibly the easiest manner to take the readers through the ideologies of the poet cum scholar cum musician.

A very intriguing part of the book is the amazing book jacket by Devangana Dash. Rich in vibrant colours with a matte finish and royal blue background, the book cover will be the pride of every collection it is part of. The silver sprinklings add to the mystic-royal touch. The illustrations by Urmimala Nag are yet another remarkable feature in the book. Penguin India has given its readers a beautiful book – inside and out.

The book is recommended for every age that may enjoy simple and deep poetry. Khusrau talks about the times he lived in and the royal courts he was part of. He also talks about the simple things in life. It is sheer pleasure to time travel and revel in the sophisticated yarns of Persian poetry. But this book is in no means a complete telescope into his life nor into his poetry. This is merely a glide over the vast reservoir that was Amir Khusrau. Chadha takes the reader on a guided tour, but bear in mind there is much much more to explore.

What the book fails in is the translation of the riddles into english. As someone who can understand Urdu as well as Hindi and English, I felt more often than not the soul, the essence of the words was lost in the translation. The english lines lacked the Khusrau zing!

Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles is an experience for lovers of Sufi poetry and an initiation into the cult who are reading Sufi literature for the first time.

Title: Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles
Author: Ankit Chadha
Publisher/ Imprint: Penguin India
Pages: 96
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Poetry/ Sufi
Rating: 3.50 of 5.00
Reviewed for: Flipkart Blogger Review Program

Read the reviews of other books rated 3 star by Team TP HERE

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