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Decorated with Padma Shree, Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi Award, Saraswati Samman and numerous other State and Central awards and fellowships, Santeshivara Lingannaiah Bhyrappa is arguably the most prominent living Kannada writer today and one of the most popular ever. The epicentre of many controversies, his revisionist rewritings of the Hindu epics have equally engaged the popular and the academic imagination. Author of more than twenty-five novels, almost all of Bhyrappa's fiction is available in translation.
This essay undertakes a critical analysis of one of his most popular novels Aavarana (translated The Veil), and what it purports to achieve with reference to the claims it makes about its search for historical truth. This is important because it deals with highly contentious issues in modern and medieval Indian history. It juxtaposes events from contemporary Indian history and from the medieval Indian history, and seeks justification for current violations and aggressions in the transgressions of the past. It resorts to an activist and ideologically soaked reading of history which makes sweeping claims, and employs highly emotive language to elicit an affective assent from readers. It dabbles dangerously on the matrix of 'we' and 'they'.
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