Odissi holds iconic status as one of the eight classical dance forms recognized and promoted by the Indian government. This book traces the dance’s transformation from its historical role as a regional artistic practice to its modern incarnation as transnational spectacle, with a focus on the state’s regulation of the dance form and the performances of gender embedded within it. Using an interdisciplinary approach that brings together social history, political theory, and dance and performance studies, the book explores three original themes: the idea of the state as a choreographic agent; the performance of “extraordinary genders,” or those identities and acts that lie outside everyday norms; and the original concept of the “paratopia”—a space of alterity produced by performance. Through an investigation of these themes, the author explores how Odissi has shown the potential to challenge dominant cultural imperatives in India.
The Dancing Other takes readers to France and Martinique to reveal the struggles of people who belong both places, but never quite feel at home in either. Suzanne Dracius tells the story of Rehvana, a woman who feels she is too black to fit in when living in mainland France, yet at the same time not dark-skinned enough to feel truly accepted in the Caribbean. Her sense of dislocation manifests itself at first in a turn to a mythical idea of Mother Africa; later, she moves to Martinique with a new boyfriend and thinks she may have finally found her place—but instead she is soon pregnant, isolated, and lonely. Soon her only reliable companion is her neighbor, Ma Cidalise, who regales her in Creole with supernatural tales of wizards. Rehvana, meanwhile, watches her dream of belonging fade, as she continues to refuse to accept her multicultural heritage.
A man scours the town he left fifty years ago for some modest evidence of past joys. Javed, who has returned to Lahore from East Pakistan, won’t speak of what he witnessed in his time away. In her dreams, an old woman boards a train full of dead ancestors. A sage who cannot control his anger must seek out a butcher for redemption. Mahaban, once the home of monkeys, is now a city filled with human beings. Sheherzad, who once told Emperor Shaharyar one thousand and one stories, is now an old woman who has forgotten her fantastical yarns.
The fifteen stories in The Death of Sheherzad ably represent Intizar Husain’s oeuvre, defying narrative tradition and exploring the past, specifically the Partition of India, as a means of unraveling the present. He imaginatively revisits a syncretic, tolerant, pluralistic past to analyze why the tide turned so irreversibly. Questioning everything—faith, violence, society—Husain probes the horrors of Partition in a manner as oblique as it is trenchant. Imbued with dark wit and literary brilliance, these stories at once shock, agitate, and entertain.
Known for his brilliantly dark fictional visions, László Krasznahorkai is one of the most respected European writers of his generation and the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. Here, he brings us on a journey through China at the dawn of the new millennium. On the precipice of its emergence as a global power, China is experiencing cataclysms of modernity as its harsh Maoist strictures meet the chaotic flux of globalism. What remains of the Middle Kingdom’s ancient cultural riches? And can a Westerner truly understand China’s past and present—or the murky waters where the two meet?
Destruction and Sorrow beneath the Heavens is both a travel memoir and the chronicle of a distinct intellectual shift as one of the most captivating contemporary writers and thinkers begins to engage with the cultures of Asia and the legacies of its interactions with Europe in a newly globalized society. Rendered in English by award-winning translator Ottilie Mulzet, Destruction and Sorrow beneath the Heavens is an important work, marking the emergence of Krasznahorkai as a truly global novelist.
Praise for Krasznahorkai
“The contemporary Hungarian master of the apocalypse.”—Susan Sontag
“Krasznahorkai delights in unorthodox description; no object is too insignificant for his worrying gaze. . . . He offers us stories that are relentlessly generative and defiantly irresolvable. They are haunting, pleasantly weird, and ultimately, bigger than the worlds they inhabit.”—New York Times
“Krasznahorkai is an expert with the complexity of human obsessions. Each of his books feel like an event, a revelation.”—Daily Beast
On October 5, 2012, the German national newspaper Die Welt published its daily issue—but things looked . . . different. Quieter. The sensations of the day, forgotten as soon as they’re read, were missing, replaced with an unprecedented calm, extracted with care from the chaos of the contemporary.
That calm was the work of Gerhard Richter, who had been granted control over Die Welt for that single day, taking over and imprinting all thirty pages of the newspaper with his personal stamp: images from quiet moments amid unquiet times, the demotion of politics from its primary position, the privileging of the private and personal over the public, and, above all, artful, moving contrasts between sharpness and softness. He had created an unprecedented work of mass art.
Among the many people to praise the work was writer Alexander Kluge, who instantly began writing stories to accompany Richter’s images. This book, the second collaboration between Kluge and Richter, brings their stories and images together, along with new words and artworks created specifically for this volume. The result, Dispatches from Moments of Calm, is a beautiful, meditative interval in the otherwise unremitting press of everyday life, a masterpiece by two acclaimed artists working at the height of their powers.
Max Weber famously described politics as “a strong, slow drilling through hard boards with both passion and judgment.” Taking this as his inspiration, Alexander Kluge brings readers yet another literary masterpiece. Drilling through Hard Boards is a kaleidoscopic meditation on the tools available to those who struggle for power. Weber’s metaphorical drill certainly embodies intelligent tenacity as a precondition for political change. But what is a hammer in the business of politics, Kluge wonders, and what is a subtle touch? Eventually, we learn that all questions of politics lead to a single one: what is political in the first place?
In the book, Kluge masterfully unspools more than one hundred vignettes, through which it becomes clear that the political is more often than not personal. Politics are everywhere in our everyday lives, so along with the stories of major political figures, we also find here the small, mostly unknown ones: Elfriede Eilers alongside Pericles, Chilean miners next to Napoleon, a three-month-old baby beside Alexander the Great. Drilling through Hard Boards is not just Kluge’s newest fiction, it is a masterpiece of political thought.