Lament of Mohini is like a jigsaw puzzle. Sprawling, fragmented, buzzing with cross-currents. This is the saga of an aristocratic Kerala family. Five generations caught up in a rambling, rambunctious retelling of their lives.
Varma's sleight of word is dramatic and dazzling. His pages teem with eccentric matriarchs and men of leisure, family feuds and lusty liaisons. A romantic poet dallies with illusions. A patriarch is caught in a time warp. A contemporary character lives a chimerical existence.
As the multi-pronged plot unwinds, the reader is swept away in a rich fantasy that seems almost tangible. The novel's teeming cast connects the past with the present through myriad voices. Gopi's, which is colloquial, is studded with imagination-rich coined words; excerpts from the lauded poet's diary, which somersaults over the generations before reverting to mere narrative; taut sequences of family 'history' that infuse the happenings, randomly tempered with Tamil and Malayalam words; dialogue sprinkled with a desi brand of wit and vagary.
This is a tight-paced, loose-knit saga that demands a leisurely read. Because, if you're in a hurry, you might lose track of the relationships and the essential plot.
ADITI DE Hindustan Times
"Varma exploits the form of the novel to the hilt. Indeed, he exhilerates in it. He unfolds the tale with the assured confidence of a master story-teller. The narrative is replete with high drama, his characters are distinct, eccentric and highly colourful. And, all along, the backdrop of time and place that he weaves is as rich and captivating as the events. What makes the book a pleasure to read is its rich humour...
An enjoyable novel throughout, Lament Of Mohini will win its author admirers."
"Varma throws up portraits of family members that promise to remain etched in our memories.."
LAMENT OF MOHINI was longlisted for theCrosswordAward. The book was on several Top Ten lists.