Climate change and global inequality explored in verse by KPU author

Thu, Aug 17, 2023

In the year 2087, Earth is ravaged by climate change and global inequality. While on a quest to find her people, a young woman aids a resistance of seed savers, craftspeople, scientists, and orphans determined to save their world from eco-catastrophe and injustice.

This is Bramah’s Quest, a new epic fantasy book from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) instructor Renee Sarojini Saklikar – written entirely in verse.

Bramahs Quest book cover

“I’ve always been intrigued by longform writing, and long poems just seem to beckon me into a creative space,” says Saklikar, who teaches creative writing in KPU’s Faculty of Arts. “As a child, I loved fantasy fiction, especially stories featuring time travel and magic. I also loved ballads, fairy tales, and rhyming riddles.”

Bramah’s Quest is a book-length poem that reclaims poetry forms such as blank verse, the sonnet, the ballad, and the madrigal. It features the time-travelling demigoddess Bramah, a locksmith and the saga’s hero who is determined to conquer the odds and deal with what fate and chance throw in her path.

It’s the second instalment of a multi-part series entitled THOT J BAP, The Heart of This Journey Bears All Patterns, which began in 2021 with Bramah and the Beggar Boy.

Saklikar blends the genres of high fantasy fiction and epic poetry for both books.

“High fantasy fiction often involves alternative worlds where time travel and magic happen alongside battles for good and evil. Epic poems are long narrative stories told in different styles of poetry. For this series I’ve combined both genres within the structure of an epic, written in verse.”

Saklikar is the author of five books, including the award-winning Children of Air India and Listening to the Bees. Trained as a lawyer, Saklikar served as the City of Surrey’s first Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2018.

In Bramah’s Quest, Saklikar explores themes of the eternal battle between good and evil, female-centred mythology, and accelerated climate change.

“The impact of these changes disproportionately affect the characters in the series. Their world is overtaken by evil forces, such as Consortium, a global superpower. But there’s still an underground resistance to this world. In and out of all this is Bramah, our hero, a skilled locksmith who uses her trade to hoodwink Consortium.”

Inspiring Saklikar in creating this world is the late author Ursula K. Le Guin, who spoke of hard times coming and the need for writers to see alternatives to how we live and to imagine real grounds for hope.

“My hope is that readers and writers will see in this series my artistic response to Le Guin’s call to action,” says Saklikar.

The book launch for Bramah’s Quest takes place Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Lido, 518 E Broadway in Vancouver. Admission is free. Guests are asked to pre-register. Bramah’s Quest is available through Harbour Publishing.