The Last Suttee | Madhu Bazaz Wangu
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The Last Suttee

The Last Suttee is a novel about a woman’s struggle to put an end to the ancient ritual, suttee, meant for a widow to self-immolate on the funeral pyre of her husband. Kumud Kuthiyala has worked hard to put her early life in Neela Nagar behind her. As director of an all-girl orphanage in metropolitan Ambayu, she has become a warrior for women’s education and equal rights. With the help of her love, Dr. Shekhar Roy, she is vigilant in protecting her charges from outdated customs that victimize girls and women. Yet, despite her many successes, her past still haunts her.

A shocking phone call from an anonymous caller turns Kumud’s world upside down. A young bride from Neela Nagar has decided to self-immolate on the funeral pyre of her husband to commit suttee. Kumud has no choice but to return to the blue town to stop this heinous crime, disguised as a ritual.

Driven by a desperate need to end the barbaric ritual that has scarred her for life, Kumud leaves Shekhar and the girls behind, but as she travels to the town of her youth, a place where superstition and prejudice abound, Kumud is forced to confront not only the stubborn mindset, that a widow is more valuable dead than alive, but also the past she believed she’d left behind. Can she convince the town that their centuries-old tradition is cruel and savage? Can she change the minds of the people and their elders before it’s too late?

Best in Multicultural Fiction, TAZ 2018.

Honorable Mention, Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Writer’s Digest Awards, 2018.

Honorable Mention, Mythology/Spirituality, Readers Favorite Awards, 2018.

Author Madhu Bazaz Wangu’s diligently researched, and expertly crafted The Last Suttee is a story that is fictional but exposes readers to a real-life, antiquated suttee ritual, and transports them into the Indian towns as they visually feast on vivid descriptions of beautiful scenery following along with the main character’s journey from a traumatic childhood event to her present-day quest to change the treatment of all girls and women. At the core of this gripping read is the continued need for education and equality for females everywhere.

The author writes, “Education is the flame that can enlighten a whole town if its inhabitants allow it,” and it is with this power that the protagonist, Kumud, attempts to change the current beliefs of the townspeople, and that of the soon-to-be widow. The Last Suttee is a thought-provoking story that is both inspirational and thrilling for readers as they follow along the path of the strong characters in hopes of a positive outcome.
Feathered Quill Book Reviews