11 April, 2021

Hypatia’s Code Of Fractions

From 5th century Alexandria to contemporary Kochi, this thrilling tale is a spatio-temporal jukebox

Hypatia’s Code Of Fractions

When it was first published in Malayalam in 2009, T.D. Ramakrishnan’s novel Francis Itty Cora stirred up the reading public in Kerala for its thematic audacity, play of ideas and racy pulp rendering. It isn’t difficult to surmise why this highbrow-meets-erotica cocktail became an instant bestseller. Or why his later novels, built on similar literary stanchions, have continued to enjoy a loyal readership.

The novel, now translated into English by Priya K. Nair, centres on the quest to unravel Francis Itty Cora, a peripatetic, influential 15th century pepper merchant from Kerala. Cora wears many hats. He is a mathematical genius who set up secret Hypatian schools, a man of unbridled sexual appetite who has sired 79 children, as well as the founder of a mysterious cult known as 18th clan. The narrat­ive swings back and forth in time, fabricating history or intervening in it, in ways that are at times brilliant, at times droll. As myth, fantasy, history and reality overlap, the novel subsumes genres, becoming part mystery novel, part erotic thriller,...

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