Death and Dante

“In the middle of life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood.” –Inferno, Canto 1

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Dante’s “La Divina Commedia” speaks profoundly to the human condition. It is a chronicle of a deep psychological crisis and how that crisis is resolved. Much like Dante (the protagonist of the poem, not its author) Diego, the protagonist of CITY OF SORROWS, starts his journey to healing by slogging through the chaos of his soul and the desperation of his muddled mind.

Early on in his life journey, Diego finds himself in a forest of seemingly impenetrable darkness. After losing his wife and newborn baby in a senseless tragedy, he is angry, self-absorbed, confused, and lost. He is in the depths of his own personal hell—the lowest and darkest of places. In CITY OF SORROWS we descend with Diego into the black pit of death, follow him on his tortuous journey through grief, and ascend with him into the light of healing—understanding along with him the ultimate mysteries of love, life, and heart-wrenching loss.

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Dante’s “Inferno” mirrors Diego’s journey as he travels through the self-absorption of Hell, through the Purgatory of forgiveness, and into the acceptance of responsibility that is the gateway to Heaven and the only sure foundation for healthy relationships. For Diego, profound grief turns into measured healing and finally, the rediscovery of love.

As Joseph Luzzi wrote in his book IN A DARK WOOD, “Every grief story is a love story.”

If you are grieving now it is because you have loved. There is no greater nor more painful gift than one born out of love.

To follow Diego on his traumatic but redemptive journey, read his story in my debut novel CITY OF SORROWS.

For a poignant study on what Dante the poet taught a broken man about grief, healing, and the mysteries of love, read Joseph Luzzi’s mesmerizing memoir IN A DARK WOOD.

Mr. Luzzi’s memoir of grief after the tragic loss of his wife when she was nine months pregnant with their first child is striking in its honesty and bold in its reflection of the emotional needs of a man who has lost his partner to tragedy. But as Mr. Luzzi finally came to understand, it was this incredibly difficult event in his life that finally led him back to the man he always wanted to be: a writer for the masses rather than the elite; a father and family man rather than a bachelor.

Where are you now in your own life story? If in Hell I promise you, the chaos you are living there is only the beginning—not the end of your final journey.

 

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India’s Festival of Lights

 

DiwaliOctober is one of my favorite months of the year. There’s a chill in the air, the leaves start turning, and the days grow short. Halloween adds a touch of fun, and the Hindu festival of Diwali adds light and color to the darker days of autumn.

 

Diwali is India’s festival of lights. It falls on the darkest night of the darkest day, yet it is a celebration of light. Like Diwali, CITY OF SORROWS is the story of the triumph of good over evil, of faith and friendship and of how the teachings and philosophies of Mahatma Ghandi can still bring a troubled soul out of the darkness and into the light.

 

Because one of the protagonists of this novel—Rajiv Kumaran—is a Hindu, I would like to dedicate this post to the Hindu celebration of Diwali.

 

According to Swami Chidanand Saraswati in this article The Meaning of Diwali,” there are three main aspects of this holiday. The first is the celebration of light. Indians line their homes and streets with oil lamps; they explode fireworks; children play with sparklers. The lamps signify God’s light, penetrating through the ignorance and sin or our daily lives. In the words of Swami Saraswati, “A home bathed in light is a home in which anger, pain, and ignorance are being dispelled; it is a home that is calling to God.” Diwali is a festival of the light which dispels the darkness of our ignorance; it is a festival of the light which shows us the way on our journey through life. The purpose is not to glorify the light of the candle, or the light of the firecracker. The purpose is to glorify the light of God. For it is He who bestows the real light, the everlasting light upon the darkness of this world.

 

Diwali also marks the start of a new year. In the joyous mood of this season, Indians clean their homes, their offices, their rooms, letting the light of Diwali enter all the corners of their lives. They begin new checkbooks, diaries and calendars. It is a day of “starting fresh.” Along with this physical cleaning, people are encouraged to shake out their hearts, ridding them of darkness and bitterness, making them clean and sparkling places for God to live.

The third aspect of Diwali is the worship of Maha Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

Celebrate Diwali this year with a book that honors the tradition. Sorrow. Loss. Restoration. Redemption. CITY OF SORROWS is a thought provoking story perfect for the festival season.

Click to enter a Goodreads Giveaway and the chance to win a free copy of CITY OF SORROWS.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

City of Sorrows by Susan Nadathur

City of Sorrows

by Susan Nadathur

Giveaway ends October 23, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

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Why Reading is Awesome

Magic of Books 6Reading is Awesome. Let me show you why.

Reason #1: It builds brain power. Reading makes you smart. Unlike watching television, which requires no thought process, reading is an active learning experience that will keep your mind sharp.

Reason #2: It reduces stress. The stress of dealing with parents, relationships, schools, teachers and the future slips away when you lose yourself in a great story. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax.

Reason #3: It’s a great way to share with friends: Talking about your favorite characters, discussing an unexpected plot twist and voting on which celebrities you’d like to play the different characters in the movie adaptation of your favorite novel is a great way to pass the time with you friends.

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Reason 4: It provides low-cost entertainment: If you’re like most young people, you don’t have a lot of money. If you’re looking for entertainment on a budget, you can’t beat books. Reading books takes longer than watching movies, and the discussions with friends that follow can go on for hours. Or even spark a romantic relationship. Remember The Fault in our Stars?

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsJohn Green’s phenomenally successful young adult novel centered on the romantic relationship between two young people who were brought together over a book. Not a bad way to connect with the girl/guy you like.

Reason #5: It eliminates boredom: Have you ever found yourself saying “I’m bored?” Especially during the summer when it’s all re-runs and you’re tired of looking at a computer screen? If so, pick up a book.

A great book lets you escape to a more interesting place: Sometimes our daily life can start to feel dull, dry or depressing. At times like this, a great release is to dive into a novel for a much needed escape. Whether you want to travel to the land of the Hobbits, a galaxy far away, or a tropical island, the choice is yours. You can go anywhere in the world, to any dimension—at least for a little while. Those few hours away from your own reality will probably be the best few hours you had all day.

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Reason #6: It makes you look totally cool. Next week’s post will be “Celebrity Bookworms” Come back and read about the stars you never thought were into books–in totally big and awesome ways.

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Orange Blossoms and Incense

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As a writer, I particularly enjoy describing scent. So it may not be surprising that Scent of Sorrow was the original title of my debut novel CITY OF SORROWS. Why? Because for many of us, the scent is the story.

In CITY OF SORROWS, the scent that both seduces and torments the novel’s protagonist, Diego Vargas, is the orange blossom. If you have ever walked the streets of Seville in the early evening on a warm spring night, you will identify with this smell. It is the perfume of the azahar, of Andalusia. Of romantic evenings strolling cobblestone streets lit by iron lanterns. It is illusion. Youth. Romance. Freedom.

But for Diego Vargas, the scent is bittersweet. It is passion. Pain. A heavy reminder of his loss. And eventually, healing.

The iconic scent of Seville is the orange blossom. As Holy Week nears however, it is often overpowered by clouds of acrid incense that hang heavily in the air.

Altar boys arrive in procession during a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI to commemorate cardinals and bishops who died this year, at the Vatican

For the antagonist, Andrés, it is this scent that stirs up heightened emotion: the pungent incense that wafts over the city in the weeks leading up to Holy Week. As he says in the book, “Holy Week is the highlight and harbinger of spring.” (page 212, CITY OF SORROWS). And no scent announces spring quite as effectively in Seville as the aroma of burnt incense.

Being neither Catholic nor Sevillana, these are not scents that I grew up with in New England. But I have grown to love the delicate aroma of the orange blossom. I love the sweet, seductive smell of this small white flower. The way its perfume floats on the air on a warm spring night, announcing the intoxicating olfactory arrival of primavera. I also remember with fondness the smoky sharpness of burnt incense. Of Easter and Semana Santa. To me, orange blossoms and incense takes me back to a special time in my life when I was young and in love. To that magical city of Seville.

CITY OF SORROWS is an olfactory rich story perfect for the Easter season. Enter here to win a free copy: Goodreads Giveaway: CITY OF SORROWS.   http://susannadathur.com/home.

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