announces the publication of
YASHODHARA: A Novel
Translated from the Telugu by P.S.V. Prasad
Harper Perennial, coming out on 25 May 2019
In her latest novel, Yashodhara, Volga reimagines the life of Buddha’s wife, Yashodhara. HarperCollins’s publication of Yashodhara, translated by P.S.V. Prasad, on Buddha Purnima, will reopen conversations about the role of women in spiritual spheres and shed light on how much has changed in the gendered politics of spirituality since the ancient times.
Volga, who reimagined the lives of the marginal women characters from the Ramayana in her Sahitya Akademi Award-winning book The Liberation of Sita, (published by Harper Perennial in 2015), said:
‘I don’t want to see women as victims. Yashodhara is a crucial figure in the religious histories, but her life story seems to be overlooked. I believe that Yashodhara played a key role in bringing women into the intellectual and spiritual domains by questioning the prevalent rituals and by addressing the inequalities of the times. Many questions about the relationship between Yashodhara and Siddhartha have bothered me for a long time … so finally, I wrote this novel.’
‘One of the most interesting things about Volga’s writing is that she takes up the stories of women figures who appear quite prominently in our ancient myths and legends, but whose personal stories seem to have been erased altogether by a gendered reconstruction of our “history”; she then proceeds to write “her story”, and so Sita – and in this case, Yashodhara – comes alive in her pages as a well-defined person, complete with thoughts, an individuality, and an agency that are her very own.
Especially in our times, when women’s narratives need to be heard more than ever and women’s empowerment is the need of the hour, Volga’s feminist exploration of Yashodhara’s story holds great meaning. We at HarperCollins are very excited to be publishing Yashodhara, and we hope the novel will find many curious and interested readers.’ – Udayan Mitra, Publisher – Literary at HarperCollins
About the book:
The story of Siddhartha, the future Gautama Buddha, leaving the palace to start his spiritual journey and attain enlightenment has been told innumerable times over the centuries. And yet, have we never wondered why his young wife, Yashodhara, still recovering from the birth of their son nine days ago, sleeps soundly as her husband, the over-protected prince departs, leaving behind his family and wealth and kingdom?
In Yashodhara, the gaps of history are imagined with fullness and fierceness: Who was the young girl and what shaped her worldview? When she married Siddhartha at the age of sixteen, did she know her conjugal life would soon change drastically? The Yashodhara we meet in Volga’s feminist novel is quick-witted, compassionate and wants to pave a way for women to partake in spiritual learning as equals of men.
About the author and the translator:
Volga is one of the most significant figures in contemporary Telugu literature. Her nearly-fifty publications include novels, plays, short-story collections, collections of essays and poetry, as well as translations. She received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2015 for her novel Vimuktha, published in English as The Liberation of Sita by Harper Perennial.
P.S.V. Prasad worked as associate professor in the department of English in Chundi Ranganayakulu Degree College and retired as its principal in 2013.
About HarperCollins India
HarperCollins India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalogue of more than 2000 titles across 10 imprints. HarperCollins India authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, the DSC Prize, the New India Foundation Award, the Atta Galatta Prize, the Shakti Bhatt Prize, the Publishing Next Award, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Crossword Book Award. HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Oneworld, Bonnie Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet. HarperCollins India is also the only publisher to have been awarded the Publisher of the Year Award three times: at Publishing Next in 2015, and at Tata Literature Live! in 2016 and 2018.
Please send any enquires to Akriti Tyagi,
HarperCollins India: Akriti.Tyagi@harpercollins.co.in