Title: The Merchant of Stories
Author: Dipa Sanatani
Publisher: Mith Books
First Publication: 2020
Narration: First person
The voyage is different for every artist and entrepreneur. What inspires them to leave behind the comforting shore of security for uncertainty and risk? What pushes them to chart uncharted terrains with no reward in sight? Expect the unexpected as Dipa Sanatani takes us on her journey in The Merchant of Stories.
“No matter how much we plan things—or not plan anything at all—life’s plans will always take precedence over our own. When we come into this world, we are not promised fortune, fame, a happy family or really anything at all. All we get is the journey. And in these pages, you will mine.”
Through a series of musings, letters, poems and notes from her diary, Dipa Sanatani takes readers on a globetrotting adventure that celebrates creative entrepreneurship as a spiritual journey. The book has everything—from the journey of her ancestors to her tales as a traveller; from the struggle of a writer to the rise of an artist; from the ecosystem of an employee to the emergence of an entrepreneur—everything. There is pain, struggle, strength and victory.
Evoking both personal experiences and universal themes, The Merchant of Stories shows us that no misstep is ever a mistake. Even the darkest night or the most mundane moment can awaken the soul—The Little Light—that resides inside each and every single one of us. All we have to do is take that first uncertain step and embrace life as one great adventure.
Book Review: The Merchant of Stories by Dipa Sanatani
Dipa Sanatani’s The Merchant of Stories is in form of diary entries that brim over with life, with hunger, with a passion that cannot be contained, with the conflicted need to absorb it all; the lonely walks in Singapore, the visual and sonorous chaos of life in the city, of incessant travel, mental and otherwise, the unstoppable flow of time, the transience of things, the galloping rhythm of emotions, sensations and the simultaneity of memory, past and present in one’s conscience, the tedium of discussions and routine, the truth about daily life without embellishment.
Dipa Sanatani sat at her desk and wanted to condense it all into words and leave out whatever that was superfluous. She never rested. She pushed herself to the limit, squeezed out her mind and existed fully only when she was writing. Writing as a means of being. She became inebriated by the exuberance of words and was carried away by the enthusiasm of getting closer to the voice that would finally give a physical shape to her dispersed, hyperactive senses. Working soothed and provided purpose to an otherwise futile reality, it gave her a reason to be.
The Merchant of Stories is a testimony to Dipa Sanatani’s powers of observation. In these entries, she writes masterfully about the people and environment around her. She also works out on the page what to write. At some point in the entries, she becomes so prolific that she is either somewhere in the process of drafting a book or editing one.
The vulnerability shown in this memoir bespeaks of a woman aware of her writing prowess but also mindful of her limitations. There are a few things, among many other, that particularly make me stop and reflect to know her better. What one immediately recognizes in her work (The Little Light), even when her work is not really understood or only partly read, is the brilliance of mind that is at work. In The Merchant of Stories, we glimpse that mind. She comes across as someone who is wholly immersed in words, drawn to them immensely.