Sunday, April 30, 2006

Book review: _Ka_ by Roberto Calasso

This poetic novel is an extended prose-poem much like _The Wasteland_ by T.S. Eliot. _Ka_ wraps the epics of the Indian subcontinent into a single unified whole; but by no means is the text meant to be read in a sitting--such beauty and wisdom is intense; reading it in long sittings actually gave me a headache! Nevertheless, this minor "flaw" of forcing the reader to put the text down is an integral part of the reading experience, as Calasso forces the reader to take in the stories piece by piece, like one would in listening to the performance of an epic by a singer-storyteller. One must remember that epics were performed in small pieces, each episode at an appropriate occasion (i.e., a story about a wedding at a wedding). Calasso's _Ka_ is not merely a book, but a simulation of the very experience of listening to and seeing an epic performed!


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