“Ramayana: An Illustrated Retelling” by Arshira Satter— A Classic, Retold

Sattar, Arshia. “Ramayana: An Illustrated Retelling”, Illustrated by Sonali Zohra, Restless Books, 2018.

A Classic, Retold

Amos Lassen

“Ramayana” is an unforgettable tale of love, adventure, divinity, and flying monkeys that has been treasured by readers around the world for thousands of years. Now we have an authoritative, gripping retelling by the renowned scholar Arshia Sattar that gives readers a new chance to explore this wonderful story.

Rama, a brave young prince, is exiled by his stepmother. His brother and his wife, the beautiful princess Sita, follow him into the mysterious forest where they encounter strange and dangerous creatures. The most terrifying is Ravana, the ten-headed demon king who kidnaps Sita and takes her to a fortified city in the middle of the ocean. In order to rescue her, Rama enlists the help of thousands of magical monkeys and bears to fight the demon army and win her back. Even the gods witness the harrowing battle.

The original Ramayana is attributed to an ancient Indian poet, Valmiki and it has been legendary and this new translation also adds to its mystique. Sattar goes deeply and beautifully into the vulnerabilities of an uptight character. The easy language makes for a very smooth read and her narrative is magical. The characters come alive both in the readers’ imagination and on the pages with Zohra’s wonderful drawings. We get the true spirit of a storyteller who knows the story.