When Dreams Travel

“A dizzying, dazzling performance…”

J.M. Coetzee

“The powerless must have a dream or two, dreams that break walls, dreams that go through walls as if they are powerless.”

A magical tour de force by a writer at the height of her powers, When Dreams Travel weaves round Scheherazade – or Shahrzad of the thousand and one nights – a vibrant, inventive story about that old game that’s never played out: the quest for love and power.

The curtain opens on four figures, two men and two women. There is the sultan who wants a virgin every night. There is his brother, who makes an enemy of darkness and tries to banish it. And there are their ambitious brides, the sisters Shahrzad and Dunyazad, aspiring to be heroines – or martyrs. Travelling in and out of these lives to spellbinding effect is a range of stories, dark, poetic and witty by turn, spanning medieval to contemporary times.

With its sharp and lively blend of past and present, its skilful reworking of the historical tradition, and its controlled use of evocative language, Hariharan’s multi-voiced narrative assumes the significance of modern myth.

From Reviews

“I loved every page of When Dreams Travel, and Borges (whom Hariharan quotes most knowingly) would no doubt have loved it too. I particularly liked the conviction with which she allows reality to be created through stories.”
Alberto Manguel

“… a beautifully written and evocative novel… as much about storytelling as about story tellers…. one of the threads that Hariharan skilfully weaves into her narrative is the mutability of tales, their tendency to shift as they pass from one person to another, revealing the story teller’s background and views…”
Times Literary Supplement

“Hariharan’s trajectory is quite unique: a sly retake on Orientalism from within the Orient… Hariharan’s tellings and retellings (are) in turn rich, supple, sensuous and cerebral…”

“…her control is sure… vibrantly reworks The Thousand and One Nights, weaving into the great myth the `traveled dreams’ of other myths and stories – Muslim and Hindu – from across Asia.”

“She can do magic… Hariharan’s greatest gift is the ability to weave story, poetry and magic into the simplest of sentences, so that reading her is an effortless pleasure.”
India Today

“…audacious, delightful… crossing boundaries, merging traditions, blending myth, legend, and the power of a fertile imagination, Hariharan crafts a tale both fantastical and poignantly close to the skin… a story that is told with such surefooted style and panache that it lights up forgotten corners of the reader’s mind.”

“Hariharan’s prose glitters like a gem-encrusted sword as it cleaves its way through layer after layer of fable and allegory… an amazing feat of the imagination.”
The Hindu