Spirit Nights

By Easterine Kire

Category: Fiction, Women's

Formats available: Paperback, Ebook

Pages: 200

Publication date: 03/03/22

ISBN-13: 9781909954540

‘Kire’s rich and creative storytelling relays important moral messages about human behaviour within a compelling narrative.’ – The Lady

A compelling fable from an award-winning indigenous writer. Drawing on ancient tribal tales from Nagaland, Northeast India, SPIRIT NIGHTS is an exciting UK debut for Easterine Kire. It tells of a prophecy fulfilled when a number of villages are enveloped in an endless darkness.

‘A rich festival of storytelling – playful, poignant and profound. Easterine Kire reimagines marvels for new audiences, shining fresh light on ancient wisdom and revealing truths that have united humanity for centuries. A beautiful read.’ Ann Morgan, novelist and author of Reading the World

A terrible taboo has been violated in the spirit world. A wise elder feels the village crumble as her people are isolated and frightened. She knows that only through acting with wisdom and courage, and journeying into unknown realms, can the people get the light back.

But who would dare to do that? 

Lockdowns, Spirit Visions, Eternal Darkness – Spirit Nights delivers a unique, timely tale from Nagaland.

‘To read Easterine Kire is to fall under the spell of an easeful, velvety, pitch-perfect storytelling. This book is especially memorable for a powerful female protagonist whose age ripened wisdom is needed to save a community on the verge of being engulfed and erased by darkness.’ – Gayathri Prabhu

Spirit Nights also includes informative notes, and an essay about real ‘Dark Time Accounts’ – tribal stories of periods when the world tumbles into seemingly endless night time.

Reviews

SPIRIT NIGHTS is a challenging yet compelling read, but one likely to fully reward the persistent reader by its close.
Both set in and inspired by the rich cultural history of Nagaland, the remote state in north-eastern India, author Easterine Kire offers an immersive experience that certainly can be classified as part mythology and part an ethnographical study.
Yet, in so many more respects, it is far more than the combination of these two genres, as it also explores the universal themes of love, loss, courage and the tension between individual and collective responses to existential threats.
The novel recounts the experiences of a small village as seen through the lives and dreams of Tola and her family, especially the growth into manhood of her sole grandchild, Namu.
This is a world at once in balance with nature in terms of the annual cycles of planting and harvesting and in fear of it as expressed by the tiger spirits that roam the countryside outside the village gates.
The novel starts towards its eventual chronological end, as the community is plunged into a stifling darkness that envelopes both the sky and people’s hopes.
Tola exclaims, seemingly in panic that “Tiger has eaten the sun! Tiger has eaten the sun!”
But as the account switches back to her early years it is clear that this elderly woman holds the key to resolving this gargantuan catastrophe.
Eschewing any hint of orientalist whimsy, Kire therefore presents a multidimensional world of seers, dreams and prophecies that both encourage and immiserate the villagers.
The divisions in the village between generations and between the sexes are neatly picked out clearly, not least in Tola’s self-censorship.
The devastation caused to the community from a brutal raid by a neighbouring village are neatly counterpoised by the gentle welcome given to some of their refugees by a third settlement.
Such an unapologetic and comprehensive blending of physical and spiritual encounters is a key motif of Spirit Nights. Some readers are likely to ease quite happily into these worlds.
Being somewhat culturally distant from them, however, I must admit to being both challenged and frustrated by their interplay — at least initially.
Falling into a Western trap of wanting to understand the symbolism behind every reference, I came close to dispensing with what is in length little more than a novella on many occasions.
To what was the tiger an allusion? Could the weeks-long disappearance of the sun be a metaphor for cultural genocide? And so, unhelpfully, on.
But I’m glad I didn’t. I learnt to read Spirit Nights with my inner eye and to follow the wise author in viewing each situation just as she presented them.
By the end, I had come to appreciate and admire Tola and her family and the stories and customs that she embodies.

- The Morning Star - Paul Simon

Superstition, ancient prophecies and the spirit world are at the heart of this pertinent fable set in the author’s native Nagaland in north-east India. Kire’s rich and creative storytelling relays important moral messages about human behaviour within a compelling narrative.
A village is suddenly plunged into extreme darkness - a ‘darkness that was different from anything they had ever experienced’. A grandmother receives disturbing visions indicating that ‘the secret has been profaned. Something so dreadful has taken place in the spirit world, and therefore the human world is reeling from its disorder’. She experiences vivid and unsettling nightmares: a tiger eats the sun.
Kire creates an atmosphere of foreboding. Is the darkness a punishment for humanity’s bad behaviour? Is it the end of the world? Her eerie prose conveys an air of menace that draws the reader in.

- The Lady - Elizabeth Fitzherbert

To read Easterine Kire is to fall under the spell of an easeful, velvety, pitch-perfect storytelling. Spirit Nights brings together the lull of fable, the revelation of allegory, the vitality of folklore and the intimacy of the familial in a manner that is distinctly Kire. This book is especially memorable for a powerful female protagonist whose age-ripened wisdom is needed to save a community on the verge of being engulfed and erased by darkness.

- Gayathri Prabhu

A rich festival of storytelling - playful, poignant and profound. Easterine Kire reimagines marvels for new audiences, shining fresh light on ancient wisdom and revealing truths that have united humanity for centuries. A beautiful read.

- Ann Morgan

Easterine Kire

Dr Easterine Kire, poet, short story writer and novelist, was born in Kohima, Nagaland, a state in Northeast India. Her tales drawn from her indigenous Naga culture are now stem from her home in Arctic Norway. In 1982, she was the first Naga poet in to have her poetry published in English. In 2003, she wrote A Naga Village Remembered, the first Naga novel in English. In 2011 she was awarded the Governor’s medal for excellence in Naga literature. Her novel, Bitter Wormwood was shortlisted for the Hindu Lit for …

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Easterine Kire is a poet, novelist, Jazzpoetry pioneer; a “one-woman cultural renaissance” (Vivek Menezes, Scroll). Her latest novel, Spirit Nights, delves deep into the spirituality of her indigenous community, primarily through an elder woman protagonist who experiences prophetic dreams and feels the spiritual world deeply. What follows is a short …