Twelve stories of immigrants who navigate the ancestral past of India as they remake their lives—and themselves—in North America. These are stories of fluid and broken identities, discarded languages and deities, and the attempt to create bonds with a new community against the ever-present fear of failure and betrayal.
“The narrative of immigration,” Bharati Mukherjee once wrote, “is the epic narrative of this millennium.” Her stories and novels brilliantly add to that ongoing saga. In the story “The Lady from Lucknow,” a woman is pushed to the limit while wanting nothing more than to fit in. In “Hindus,” characters discover that breaking away from a culture has deep and unexpected costs. In “A Father,” the clash of cultures leads a man to an act of terrible violence. “How could he tell these bright, mocking women,” Mukherjee writes, “that in the darkness, he sensed invisible presences: gods and snakes frolicked in the master bedroom, little white sparks of cosmic static crackled up the legs of his pajamas. Something was out there in the dark, something that could invent accidents and coincidences to remind mortals that even in Detroit they were no more than mortal.”
There is light in these stories as well. The collection’s closing story, “Courtly Vision,” brings to life the world within a Mughal miniature painting and describes a light charged with excitement to discover the immense intimacy of darkness. Readers will also discover that excitement, and the many gradations of darkness and light, throughout these pages from the mind of a master storyteller.
Darkness is part of Godine’s Nonpareil series: celebrating the joy of discover with books bound to be classics. See here for a complete list of Nonpareils.