Vidya's Library

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Vidya's Library - Writing and Indian Spirituality
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Kitta's Choices - Colonization and World War 2
“…Venkatraman makes a memorable debut with this lushly evoked novel
set in India during World War II…
this novel vivifies a unique era
and culture as it movingly expresses how love and hope can blossom
even under the most dismal of circumstances…”

Starred review, Publishers Weekly
When I began to write Climbing the Stairs, I heard the voice of a woman and I saw the image of a teenager standing at the foot of a forbidden staircase. Vidya’s character is loosely based on the woman I admire most in the world – my mother – who also had a forbidding staircase separating her from the library in her extended family home.

Vidya is a teenager very much at odds with the world in which she finds herself. When she climbs the staircase to the library each day, she finds books that help her to escape the boundaries of the walls that surround her. The library deepens her knowledge of the Hindu religion and introduces her to Hindu spirituality and philosophy, causing her to question the unjust restrictions imposed on her by the Hindu culture and Indian society.

Listed below are links to resources on creative writing and links for those who wish to learn more about Hindu philosophy and spirituality, including some with information on the philosophers whose books Vidya reads in
Climbing the Stairs.

Resources on Writing

Fox, John. Finding What You Didn’t Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making. 1995. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
From the back cover: “John Fox [a certified poetry therapist] offers a fresh approach  
     to poetry writing, yet one that doesn’t overlook the importance of formal techniques.
     Readers will be reintroduced to their poetic voice and its unique ability to heal
     psychological wounds which may have held it captive.”

Saltzman, Joel.
If You Can Talk, You Can Write: A Proven Program to Get You Writing & Keep You Writing. 1993. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc.

From the back cover: “When we talk, we tell stories and present ideas – rarely with
     much anxiety. But think about writing something and panic sets in. Overcome this
     crippling response by learning how to ‘talk’ on paper.”

For the complete list of resources on writing, click here.

Resources on Indian Spirtuality

Ananthanarayanan, T. V. Learning Through Yoga. 1983. Chennai: Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.

     The best book on teaching yoga to children and teens, and one that certainly can be 
     enjoyed by adults as well. The author combines parables and stories with exercises,
     gently nudging the reader to ponder the deeper meaning of yoga in an extremely
     engaging and novel manner.

Demi. Buddha. 1996. New York: Henry Holt.

     For children, this is a good introduction to the story of Gautama Buddha. Buddha is
     accepted by Hindus as an enlightened and divine being and an avatar (reincarnation)
     of God.

For the complete list of resources on Indian spirituality, click here.

“…remarkable in terms of the layout, themes and the main character Vidya…cleverly woven the story through several South Indian festivals...The style only looks simple, but it is deceptively simple – it is a lot of hard work…”
Anatharangan Sundaresan, Translator and Tamil Literary Critic