Song of the Soil

by Chuden Kabimo

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Tags: Set in India Male author

Song of the Soil

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On a day of earthquake and rain, a young man gets bad news. Ripden, his childhood friend, has been swept away by a landslide. He makes his way back to Malbung, the village of his birth, and the memories come rushing back: growing up together, harsh teachers at school and playing truant, bullies and backyard fights. He remembers, also, the day they ran away from home to Lolay to find out about Ripden's father, vanished years earlier in the revolution. There the pair meet Nasim, who narrates to them an extraordinary tale from his younger days. Set in the foothill town of Kalimpong in the Himalaya, Song of the Soil brings alive the story of the revolution for a separate state of Gorkhaland in the late 1980s. It lays bare the many faces of violence during the brief but politically charged Gorkha movement, exploring the idealistic dreams of the youths recruited into a revolution they do not fully understand-mere children who failed to see the selfishness of their leaders, leaders who disregard the lives of their foot soldiers in the name of the greater good of Gorkhaland. In doing so, the novel asks the vital question: Who, ultimately, wins in a revolution-and who loses? 'This intense, evocatively translated novella takes us into the beating heart of a mountain community as it examines hopes, aspirations and betrayed dreams. Truly a song of the soil, it carries the breath of life.'-Namita Gokhale, author of Things to Leave Behind 'A thing of beauty-and an important book that deserves to be read in many languages.'-Prajwal Parajuly, author of The Gurkha's Daughter 'Song of the Soil is a shining example of how one can write about a violent incident without recreating the violence. The author blends bildungsroman with a conflict story with great dexterity, bringing out new aspects of both forms. This book is able to make poetry out of brutal situations, but does so with honesty, humour, and gentleness.'-The JCB Prize for Literature Jury

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