After her work in the short story collection, “Dangling Gandhi,” Jayanthi Sankar reveals her artistic side as a novelist in “Misplaced Heads” where her work is more about uniqueness and detail and much different in terms of theme and subject in comparison to her debut work. Placing “Misplaced Heads” literally in the heart of India, Sankar brings out the soul of one culture that has found rare mention in history of historical books otherwise. The culture of devdasis and their life is coupled with the present-day life and contemporary scenario which makes it rich in terms of content and characters both.
“Misplaced Heads” as a title may sound paradoxical for once but on decoding the metaphorical meaning, the readers can understand how artistically the author shares her comment on human civilization as a whole and at the same time reinforces the universality of human nature in any time the book is placed or whenever the action takes place. In the action spread over more than 450 pages of the book, the author explores life, characters, time, cultures, and everything that can influence these. This is coupled with the themes of exploring human nature, men women relationships and their delicacy, roles of men and women defined in the light of social constructs and their role performance in those frames. Art and its essence are the main theme that pervade the atmosphere of the novel and even if it does not find a direct mention, the air of the novel still finds this theme being featured. The readers may also trace several minor themes that the author packs the book with.
While there would be many texts that show India’s richness in terms of culture, resources, “Misplaced Heads” takes a look at all this from the perspective of social life and the positions of men and women and at times, presenting all of it through their eyes. In this manner, the book is exceptional, beyond basic and certain enough to strike the chord with readers who can decipher even all that is unsaid. All the characters get equal weight, space to develop and limelight to show their sides of the story and also let the readers be the judges. Altogether, the novel is a package of different emotions which feature the happy times and the times which would make the readers a bit dejected. This is how the author infuses life both in her characters and also in her work. At the same time, the research work done by the author before giving words to her plot is commendable and admirable. Sankar has literally gone into the depths of India’s glorious past and written her work from a perspective which had been unexplored so far. She introduces the readers to a different light, and they start thinking on the lines she builds. This makes “Misplaced Heads” interesting, exciting, thought-provoking, and insightful. Therefore, all readers whether they are young or mature would enjoy this book since it covers so many perspectives and also has the impressions of different emotions.
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