Book: When the River Sleeps | Writer: Easterine Kire | Publisher: Zubaan Books
When the River Sleeps won the The Hindu Prize for Best Fiction in 2015, this is what the jury had to say about the book, ‘It offers a beautiful narration of a loner’s battle against evil seduced by a mysterious dream’. This beautiful gentle book is all that and much more. It is the story of Villie, who lives in a forest and is the guardian of the gwi, the majestic mithuns that inhabit the forests of Nagaland.
The Classic Folk Tale Re-Invented
He sets out on a quest to find the river of his dreams and to ‘catch’ it while it is sleeping to wrest from its heart a charmed stone that will give him extraordinary powers. The story is steeped in the myths and legends of Nagaland, and reads almost like a folk tale. Unpretentious in treatment and style, it is a novel that proves the fact that the most profound truths can be told in the simplest manner. Like all classic folk tales, it tells us of the goodness of the human heart and the possibilities it holds, more precious than all the riches of the world. Villie’s struggle is universal in its appeal, though firmly rooted in the Naga way of life.
Back to Nature
The hills and vales of Nagaland, its fragrant herbs and sparkling streams all find mention in this novel where nature is the real hero. The book is a call to all of us, to return back to the natural ways. Rapid urbanization has severed our ties with the natural world and no wonder we are growing unhappier by the day. Outside the Northeast, Nagaland’s name is closely associated with an armed struggle and the peace accord that followed. The book seeks to take it back to the realm of nature. It succeeds because of its gentle characters and powerful evocation of the natural world.
‘The forest is my wife, and perhaps this is what marriage is like; with periods when a chasm of loneliness separates the partners leaving each one alone with their thoughts, groping for answers’
Review: Nasreen Habib
Photo courtesy-Imchatsung Imchen