Book Review: Under The Shade Of The Banyan Tree By Simi K. Rao ( Poems, Rants and Short Stories

“I try my best

to talk the talk, walk the walk,

But I fail miserably, 

Who am I trying to be?” – From Simi K. Rao’s Poem “Me is all I want to be”

I’ll start by saying “Thank you” to the author and Kelsey Butts for a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to have this experience.

“Under The Shade of The Banyan Tree” is a Collection of Poems, Rants and Short Stories that are genuine, raw and relatable. Being the first of it’s kind that I have read, I wasn’t too sure if i would like this book but it hit me with a pleasant surprise, first with the poems and then the short stories.

In this collection, the author bears out her soul with deep words of introspection, fear, guilt, shame, culture, joy and love. It is amazing how simple short poems can tell stories of tradition, marriage and experiences that you would expect only from a full blown novel. The author has done an amazing job in weaving these bits of poetry and rants into one big story with different themes which sometimes seem scattered in several places but at the end paints a vivid picture of the messages they carry. Most women would find at least one poem or rant that you can relate to and to me, this is the beauty of words.

I personally related to poems like “Me is all I can be”, “Love is”, “Sometimes you need to”, “The Surface”, “The Seed of doubt” and “In Moderation. I also enjoyed reading some the short stories especially “The Ritual” which is my favorite but I regret to say that where I felt this book was lacking was in the short stories. The were not as engaging as the poems and rants which gave you a punch sometimes or a tug in your heart.  The story “A Cup Of Chai” should have been my best but I found the beginning of the story quite irrelevant to the core of it. However, when it finally kicked in, there was no going back. I would like to see this story probably expanded into a novel but hopefully better written as there is a really good story in there.

In a nutshell, I enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it to all poetry lovers and readers alike.

Published: September 2019 by Written Dreams Publishing

Pages: 144

Genre: Poetry/Short Stories

Purchase @

The Author: Simi K. Rao was born and grew up in India before relocating to the U.S., where she has lived for several years. The inspiration for her books, and other projects, comes from her own experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles and familial relationships, as well as stories and anecdotes collected from friends, family and acquaintances. Rao enjoys exploring the dynamics of contemporary American culture blended with Indian customs and heritage to reflect the challenges and opportunities many Indian-American women face in real life. Much of Rao’s down time is devoted to creative pursuits, including writing fiction, poetry and photography. She is an avid traveler and has visited many locations around the world. A practicing physician, Rao lives in Denver with her family.


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