1913 Press|December 2013|ISBN: 9780984029761
Monica Mody's KALA PANI is an allegorical screenplay that's both playful and terrifying. KALA PANI begins in a familiar, stripped down setting: a stage, actors, a Godotian tree as prop. But soon the Beckett allusions fray into the Boschian as the play embarks on a hallucinatory, postcolonial and tech-riven romp into the deprived lives of World Travelers. These world travelers (aka, Migrants? Writers? Revolutionaries? Insurgents?) are marooned on a colony island and spin tales such as the story of two sisters, Othershape, and Sameshape. KALA PANI is packed with stories-within-stories and voices that range from officialese to rebellious neologistic song: 'the blubs squeezed themselves into a phalanx of pulped fury.' With each scene, you descend into stranger circles of hell and hope. KALA PANI encompasses plenitude; it is uncomfortable, startling, timeless, and ultimately original."
--Cathy Park Hong
"Monica Mody is a poet of sacrifice: Writing to us from the space behind the sun. “Elemental and artificial,” the world traveller licks the map. The word traveller lies down on her back beneath the “life-sized fabric” of the sky. This is a sky that surveils recumbent forms, agitated consumers and the person who wants to be “in a relationship” with the polyvalent neutrality of “a connoisseur.” Meanwhile, the narrator “is asleep.” Black water starts to seep up through an architecture that’s ruined, like a leg that’s been soaking too long in the bath. Architecture is pink, fleshy and ridged in Mody’s spectacular work on Empire. The poet-citizen is nauseous. “Stomachs” are heaving; “bibs” are in place. And at the heart of this death-star society, “funeral pyres” are burning at the edge of a dirty lake. Mody puts this ash into the mouth of the reader. This is the black water. This is the ritual that precedes whatever it is it will take – threads of wool? – to lead a person “back to us.” This is never, exactly, the same thing as home – the “ground” that Mody complicates, again and again, in the rupturing vortex of KALA PANI, a book without “remorse.”"
"I keep handy a short list of writers who teach you that dreaming of a new politics is never enough. A new politics always needs a new language. That is the lesson offered by Arundhati Roy and Tony Kushner. After reading KALA PANI, my list also includes Monica Mody."
"Six World Travellers, bereft of visas, gather beneath a tree to tell the story of Sameshape and Othershape — lovers, sisters, coconspirators, antagonists, doubles? — while the new Administration looks on, both feeding the informants and censoring their live-feed. The resulting contortions, stutters, hallucinations, fight scenes, sex scenes, mise-en-scènes, warblings and appendages, jerk and brim with jouissance and glitter with the self-discovery of a true bricoleuse. Gender, genre, national identity, multiple languages, and the body’s “natural” borders are all debased and reworked in this queer, unstable mix, which releases energy as it forms and breaks down and forms again. Welcome to the world of KALA PANI. Drink this smoking stuff and live forever."
"...a series of fractured tales crowded into a awkwardly beautiful postmodern dastan, or a long narrative poem—the likes of which you might get if you locked Dr. Strangelove, Scheherazade, and Seuss’ Onceler in a room and told them they couldn’t come out until they’d written an allegory for our times."
Read reviews of Kala Pani on Rain Taxi and The Volta Blog.
Read excerpts from Kala Pani in 1913 a journal of forms, Boston Review, LIES/ISLE, The Volta, and on Truck.
Read an interview with Cathy Linh Che and me on our new books at the Lantern Review Blog.