Amidst the multitude of authors in the literary world, a mere handful manage to stand out not only for their unconventional literary recipe and its sundry ingredients but also for their rather unusual choice of vocations and, perhaps, avocations. Whether these were ineludible ports of call under the auspices of the ‘Moirai’ (fates) or consciously steered towards could be debated endlessly, but there is no doubt that ‘Unconventional Oddball’ is a title befitting Sudanand, the author of ‘Beethoven’s Last Symphony’, (BLS), a literary masterpiece which masterfully and admirably explores the human condition while weaving a poignant narrative entwined with a moving nested story. Progressing through the pages, one cannot help but note the influence of the Greek classics and existential philosophy. On further interrogation, Sudanand admits to being influenced by the aforesaid genres and confesses that the thematic soul of the novel is metaphysically imbued with Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’.
Before immersing himself in the art of storytelling, Sudanand soared to literal heights. After learning to fly at the tender age of 18, he forged a long career with Jet Airways, followed by another stint at Air Asia, accumulating over 16,000 hours spent sailing across the skies of the Middle East, India, and South East Asia. His expertise in aviation lends unique authenticity and insight to his narratives, many of which were, unsurprisingly, conceived in the upper limits of the Troposphere.
Yet, Sudanand’s life was not constrained to the ‘mere’ heavens—pardon the irony—for in realising his passion for motorsport, he participated in 160 races at the national level in India and Malaysia, boasting an impressive record of podium finishes, multiple wins and a championship victory, illustrating his competitive spirit and speed streak.
In 2021, Sudanand ventured into healthcare as the Director of Ortho-One, a leading Orthopaedic hospital founded by his family. This diversification showcases his versatility and entrepreneurial spirit, demonstrating his ability to navigate diverse fields.
Amidst this whirlwind of feats, Sudanand, a devoted single parent to his teen daughter and an ardent pianist, managed to nurture his literary talents. His debut novel transcends a mere narrative, presenting a tapestry of existential contemplation against the backdrop of South East Asia, accompanied by frequent flashbacks to World War Two Europe, not to mention Neolithic Europe, Late Roman Republic and present-day Italy in the embedded narrative chronicling the Euhemeristic and later day fictional accounts of the Greek Goddess of Dawn—Eos.
The novel centers around Zoey, a high school student navigating the absurdity of human transience against the festive chaos and subtle hints of an impending pandemic. The COVID pandemic and the acute challenges it posed serve as the perfect backdrop to an existential odyssey that is easily relatable to one and all. Sudanand’s eloquent portrayal of Zoey’s emotional merry-go-around amid the tribulations of online school, teen conflict and betrayal, further exacerbated by the loss of a loved one, creates a protagonist one can easily empathise and identify with. The reader is drawn into a whirlpool of intrigue upon Zoey discovering an incomplete manuscript, likely authored by her late great-grandfather, a Distinguished Flying Cross awardee, unravelling a confounding and unexpected mystery surrounding his identity.
Sudanand skilfully weaves the main narrative with the embedded one, titled ‘Timeless Love’, from apparently divergent points. Both narratives, through a literary or, perhaps, conceptual ‘sleight of hand’, converge in the most unexpected manner. The embedded three-part epic structured around an existential leitmotif plays out akin to a three-movement symphony, offering justification for the second part of the title, while the secondary protagonist and titular namesake of the famous Romantic Era composer vindicates the first. While ‘Timeless Love’ with its allusions to the fictitious relative of Titus Carus Lucretius, the famous Roman poet-philosopher, as well as other significant events leading up to the death of Gaius Marius appeal to fans of historical fiction, there is plenty more in the menu to satiate the palates of the philosophically inclined literary types, particularly for those seeking a tale woven with the threads of art, love, philosophy and literature infused with mellifluous melancholy.
In Sudanand, we encounter a polymath with a brilliant mind whose adeptness in channelling his varied experiences and love for literature combine into the penning of a delightful novel showcasing his exceptional talent, offering readers a soul-enriching tapestry that blends philosophy, culture, history, music, aviation, and the human spirit’s quest for meaning.
As we savour the pages of ‘Beethoven’s Last Symphony,’ we realise that Sudanand isn’t just a virtuosic maestro and wordsmith but also a composer who has managed to orchestrate a profound symphony through words—a true Renaissance soul redefining the art of storytelling.