Gulmohar assumes a character of its own in Chetna Keer’s new book - Hindustan Times
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Gulmohar assumes a character of its own in Chetna Keer’s new book

May 23, 2023 08:28 PM IST

Chetna Keer's fourth book, "Garnets Under My Gulmohar," was recently launched in New Delhi. The novel, set amid the era of climate change, revolves around a book influencer and climate warrior. The event also featured handcrafted book accessories made by children from NGOs Deepalaya and Udayan using recycled paper.

Conversation, creative curation and climate action defined the launch of city-based novelist, columnist and satirist Chetna Keer’s fourth book, Garnets Under My Gulmohar, recently in New Delhi.

Chetna Keer with her latest book, Garnets Under My Gulmohar (HT Photo)
Chetna Keer with her latest book, Garnets Under My Gulmohar (HT Photo)

This novel, the second in the Gulmohar Sagas installment, presents a “captivating suspense saga set amid the turbulent era of climate change”.

Distinguished littérateurs and culture connoisseurs, including renowned Sufi-Kathak exponent Manjari Chaturvedi; former senior associate editor of an English daily, AJ Philip; author-lawyer Sumant Batra; and chairperson and MD of the Sikh Chamber of Commerce, Agnostos Theos, among others, unveiled the book.

The event also featured handcrafted book accessories made by children from NGOs Deepalaya and Udayan and the author herself. They used a recycled paper.

Talking about the book, Keer says, “This destination drama, set in Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh), revolves around the feisty protagonist, Lollita, who is a fortyish book influencer, saree-a-holic, climate warrior and Netflix-a-holic.” She adds, “The story crisscrosses colonial-era Kasauli, the Rajput Ramgarh Fort, and the culturescapes of Dilli Haat and Surajkund.”

Talking about the author’s writing style, Philip says, “Soaking in Chetna’s prose is akin to reading Khalil Gibran’s poetry. You can’t rush through it. It has to be savoured pearl by pearl… Or sip by sip, like a fine wine.”

To explain her journey from a satirist to a suspense writer, Keer uses a food analogy: “Shifting from satire to suspense was like being a chef who is transitioning from sunny side-up eggs to preparing lasagna. Garnets Under My Gulmohar is my literary lasagna— one with layers upon layers of suspense.” She continues, “It has layered narratives, with one narrative of mysterious happenings in a book club running parallel to the hunt for a mysterious lost legacy of a Purani Dilli’s grand matriarch, Bade Beeji.”

Touching upon the symbolism of the Gulmohar tree, Keer reads a passage from her book and explains, “Since climate change serves as a compelling subtext in this thriller, the Gulmohar assumes a character of its own. It becomes a metaphor for the tumultuous times faced by the matriarch... As well as for the climate crisis.”

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