17 April, 2021

The Lady Dances In The Dark

The narrative weaves together regime change, Maoist violence and civil society politics, creating a compelling political novel.

The Lady Dances In The Dark

In 2007, Anjana Basu wrote Black Tongue, a searching examination of political and moral bankruptcy in West Bengal, set against the background of the three-decade long Communist rule of the state. Rhythms of Darkness is a sequel of sorts, but holds up equally well as a stand-alone work. In it, Basu takes up the story of one of the characters introduced towards the end of Black Tongue, Shyama, who comes of age and becomes “the woman who destroyed Bengal”.

Most readers will find a more than passing resemblance between Shyama and the politician who heads the current dispensation in West Bengal. Rhythms of Darkness swirls together a heady cocktail of regime change, Maoist violence and civil society politics to produce a compelling political novel, a genre which has perhaps not received its due from Indian writers in English. Basu is an honourable exception, though, and both her novels negotiate a devilishly difficult terrain with great skill and narrative imagination. But while Black...

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