Book Fair



Dr. Sarojini Sahoo. A Dark Abode
Indian AGE Communication (India). 07-10-2008.  Cover Artist: Ed Baker. Translator: Mahendra Kumar Dash. Novel.  ISBN: 978-81-906956-2-6.

The Dark Abode (ISBN 978-81-906956-2-6) is a collage presentation of south Asian feminist novelist Sarojini Sahoo‘s novel and American poet / painter Ed Baker’s 23 sketches. Baker’s Uma is a collection of sketches of the Hindu goddess, also known for feminine power. The Dark Abode is the English translation of Sahoo’s much-acclaimed Oriya novel, Gambhiri Ghara, first published in 2005 in magazine form and later published in book form. A Bengali version of the work has been published by Anupam Prakashani Dhaka under the title Mithya Gerosthali (ISBN No :984 404 287-9) . The writings and the sketches have been masterfully woven into one work and compliment one another.

The novel deals with the terrorism that people often face from the micro to the macro sphere. It begins with questioning the mere physicality of the man-woman relationship but then transports the reader into the higher planes of platonic love. The central character of the novel is Kuki, is a Hindu woman from India who falls (and then rises) in love with a Muslim artist from Pakistan. The unusualness of the socio-cultural background of these two characters is delicately portrayed by Sahoo in a sensitive and convincing manner. Readers become familiar with the two sets of roles that Kuki plays; that of a lover and that of a wife. Sahoo subtly balances these two roles and at the same time, highlights the superiority of a wife in a pragmatic world. But the novel is not merely a love story. Though love is a part of the novel, it deals with a much broader topic: the providence of a woman in India. At the same time, it also portrays a story of how a perverted man, over time, becomes a perfect man. It also delves into the relationship between the ‘state’ and the ‘individual’ and comes to the conclusion that ‘the state’ represents the moods and wishes of a ruler and hence, ‘the state’ actually becomes a form of ‘an individual.’ Additionally, it takes a broader look at terrorism and state-sponsored anarchism.

Eminent Bangladeshi Feminist writer Selina Hossain writes about the novel that “not following the traditional paths but by using many incidents, happenings in the contemporary world, Sarojini Sahoo has defined the world of woman in her novel under review. She has shown how the lives of men and women are so disjoined that there remains no place for deep sympathy and steady love.”

The sketches have their genesis as images in a dream, according to Baker. Uma, to him, is symbolic of many things that give us pleasure in life. As to how these images are realized, the artist confesses he is just not sure. “I just watch and wait for something to happen...and something always does,” he says.

It is said in the Saimdarua Lahiri that Uma is the source of all power in the universe and because of her; Lord Shiva gets all of his powers. She is often depicted as half of Lord Shiva, the supreme god, and she also is a major symbol of female sexuality. Her name refers to her being born daughter of Himavan (Himalaya), lord of the mountains. Beautiful, gentle, powerful consort of Shiva, mother of Ganesh, Kartikeya, Saraswati and Laxshmi, she encompasses their powers and exudes a tranquil, serene beauty and provides a calm within. Uma is a symbol of many noble traditional (Hindu) virtues: fertility, marital felicity, spousal devotion, asceticism and power. She refers to the symbol of early feminine power and energy. Known formally as goddess Uma, Lady of the Mountains, she shows us how to balance the many aspects of our lives. Beautiful and (benignly) powerful, she is also known as Shakti, Parvati (consort of Shiva), Ambika,Annapurna, Bhairavi, Candi, Gauri, Durga, Jagadmatai (Mother of the World), Kali, Kanyakumari,Kumari, Mahadevi, and Syama.

Sarojini Sahoo is an Indian feminist and author. She usually writes her short stories and novels in Oriya and her critical essays in English. [6] In addition to being a college professor, she is currently an Associate Editor at the English magazine Indian Age. Dr. Sahoo also has a blog ‘Sense & Sensuality,’ where she discusses her ideas about sexuality, spiritualism, literature, and feminism. She has published 23 books ; three in English and 20 in Oriya.

Ed Baker is active in many mediums of art from drawing to writing to sculpture. He describes himself as self-made and not belonging to any ‘schools’ in the mediums in which he works. Baker essentially began his artistic endeavors in earnest in 1998. The prolific author has published eight books and countless poems published in leading publications in the medium of poetry.

The Dark Abode is as powerful as any of Sahoo’s most popular creations. Like in all her other masterpieces, this novel will not betray her characteristic of being a feminist writer and is sure to peak the interests of both new and old readers alike.



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