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Until the Lions

by Karthika Naïr

Part of our Arc International Poets series

Karthika Nair's epic poem Until the Lions is conceived as an echo of its great Sanskrit forerunner,the Mahabharata. It is an echo in which women drive the narrative and are its main characters, a vivid and compelling retelling from a female perspective of many of the stories from one of the world's most venerated books.

Karthika Naïr explores the contrapuntal stories of the Mahabharata in a virtuoso collection of dramatic monologues. Queens, warriors, sages, slaves and peasants, even wolves have their say, as the tales of rulers and lovers, parents and children, gods and humans, are retold in metered prose and poetic forms of myriad origin: the Spanish glosa, the Malay pantoum, the Provençal sestina, the Pashtun landay, shaped stanzas and nonce forms. This is a glorious work of storytelling and a poetic tour de force.

­Marilyn Hacker

Here's a work that's galvanized both by human and divine history and by the history of the epic itself. The result is a narrative poem of great imagination and incandescence, about a subject at once deeply familiar and deeply strange.

Amit Chaudhuri

Karthika Naïr has given us the most eloquent meditation on the Mahabharata in this generation — a lyrical, unflinching exploration of the souls embodied in many of the great epic characters, a moving and intricate weaving together of their destinies and desires, a stunning attempt to create a language commensurate with those destinies, and a profound lament for the suffering that all human beings must know. In her hands, the ancient epic assumes new life, one that is somehow close to our own experience of the world, familiar yet also utterly strange and new. Hers is a voice of clarity and passionate empathy; no one has read the Mahabharata this way before her.

David Shulman

978-1910345-07-8 pbk
978-1910345-08-5 hbk
Published January 2016

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