Song of the Soil

by Chuden Kabimo

Translated from the Nepali by Ajit Baral

On a day of earthquake and rain, a young man receives 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.

The memories come rushing back—memories of growing up together, of harsh teachers at school and playing truant, bullies and backyard fights. He remembers the day they ran away from home to Lolay to find out about Ripden’s father, who vanished years earlier in the revolution. There the pair met Nasim, a man who spends his days breaking rocks by the riverside.

Nasim narrates an extraordinary tale from his younger days. He speaks of himself and other child soldiers of the revolution, building pipe guns and homemade bombs, fighting pitched battles with the police, training in jungle camps, and enduring drink-fuelled nighttime raids. They witnessed a massacre in the town square and suffered a final, unforgivable betrayal.

Set in the foothill town of Kalimpong in the Himalayas, Song of the Soil brings alive the story of the revolution for a separate state of Gorkhaland in the late 1980s and lays bare the many faces of violence. In doing so, it 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 in it.’ —Namita Gokhale

‘A thing of beauty—and an important book that deserves to be read in many languages.’ —Prajwal Parajuly, author of The Gurkha’s Daughter

ISBN: 978-1-913891-21-3
Publication date:  30 October 2021
Format: Paperback (Demy octavo) 216mm x 138mm

 

SKU: 9781913891213 Category:

Synopsis

On a day of earthquake and rain, a young man receives 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.

The memories come rushing back—memories of growing up together, of harsh teachers at school and playing truant, bullies and backyard fights. He remembers the day they ran away from home to Lolay to find out about Ripden’s father, who vanished years earlier in the revolution. There the pair met Nasim, a man who spends his days breaking rocks by the riverside.

Nasim narrates an extraordinary tale from his younger days. He speaks of himself and other child soldiers of the revolution, building pipe guns and homemade bombs, fighting pitched battles with the police, training in jungle camps, and enduring drink-fuelled nighttime raids. They witnessed a massacre in the town square and suffered a final, unforgivable betrayal.

Set in the foothill town of Kalimpong in the Himalayas, Song of the Soil brings alive the story of the revolution for a separate state of Gorkhaland in the late 1980s and lays bare the many faces of violence. In doing so, it asks the vital question: Who ultimately wins in a revolution—and who loses?

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