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Song Of Kali

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Song Of Kali.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Dan Simmons(Author)

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Calcutta: a monstrous city of immense slums, disease and misery, is clasped in the foetid embrace of an ancient cult. At its decaying core is the Goddess Kali: the dark mother of pain, four-armed and eternal, her song the sound of death and destruction. Robert Luczak has been hired by Harper's to find a noted Indian poet who has reappeared, under strange circumstances, years after he was thought dead. But nothing is simple in Calcutta and Lucsak's routine assignment turns into a nightmare when he learns that the poet is rumoured to have been brought back to life in a bloody and grisly ceremony of human sacrifice.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

"O terrible wife of Siva / Your tongue is drinking the blood, / O dark Mother! O unclad Mother." It is remarkable that prior to writing this first novel, Dan Simmons had spent only two and a half days in Calcutta, a city "too wicked to be suffered," his narrator says. Fortunately back in print after several years during which it was hard to obtain, this rich, bizarre novel practically reeks with atmosphere. The story concerns an American poet who travels with his Indian wife and their baby to Calcutta to pick up an epic poem cycle about the goddess Kali. The Bengali poet who wrote the poem cycle has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. One of the most terrifying books ever written. 'Song of Kali' transcends any cheap thrills you get from a Stephen King novel, Dan Simmons' vision of horror set in the claustrophobic heat of India is fierce and unrelenting. Aberdeen Evening Express --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

2.4 (8748)
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Book details

  • PDF | 320 pages
  • Dan Simmons(Author)
  • Headline Book Publishing; New Edition edition (1987)
  • English
  • 6
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Maitreya on September 21, 2007

    Wow... worst book ever written. It's depiction of one of India's holiest cities and it's inhabitants is deluded at best, and diabolically racist at it's worst. Not to mention how many Hindus (myself included) his depiction of our beloved Goddess, Kali Ma... Hindus definitely don't sacrifice people to Kali... most Hindus are at the very least semi-vegetarians. Disgusting anti-religious sentiment and racist hatred is what summarizes this book best.Jai Sri Kali Mata!

  • By Paul Scott on August 17, 2009

    Working off the sensation fiction tradition exoticized by the likes of Rudyard Kipling (a much greater writer than Dan Simmons), Dan Simmons' novel Song of Kali follows a married couple- the Luczaks- and their infant to Calcutta where they experience a modern version of such tales. The object of the trip is to obtain a new manuscript of an Indian poet named M. Das. The complication is that the poet has long been considered dead- for eight years no less!The couple arrives in Calcutta and immediately shudders at the horror of it. Their horror doesn't stop at the poverty which surrounds them. Soon they shudder with horror at every Indian they meet. They are introduced to the local Calcutta Writers Union President, Mr. Chatterjee, and Mr. Luczak takes an immediate dislike to him. The Calcutta Writers Union happens to be in possession of the new Das manuscript. They however refuse to allow Mr. Luczak to meet with the author. Naturally Mr. Laczak would wish to do so in order to authenticate the poem. Frustrated Mr. Luczak, goes back to his hotel, but later that evening, Mr. Luczak is treated to a story about how the poet M. Das has been resurrected by members of the local Kali cult. As the story progresses, the nature of this cult becomes more apparent. This cult is one part Indian, one part Vodoo, and one part followers of Nietzsche. Mr. Simmons concocts this cult by stringing together these different philosophies and appears satisfied with this Frankenstein creation. Unfortunately, much of the horror dissipates because of this creation; it lacks any coherency and consequently plausibility, and will lead any thinking individual to spend more time scratching their head. Furthermore, the cult, which Mr. Simmons uses as a sit in for Indian culture, doesn't seem very Indian at all in the end except in imagery. After the revelation of the M. Das resurrection twist, which probably should have been saved for later in the narrative (also the only good part of the story), the story treats us to more lengthy images of poverty of Calcutta in case you have missed the point. This is then followed by a conversation where Mr. Simmons establishes that Indian culture is different in kind and not degree from western culture ( the `East is East and West is West' sentiment of Kipling), thus establishing that poverty and suffering has more to do with what one believes than circumstance. Then we get more filler scenes of Indian poverty. And then there are other filler scenes where all that happens in the chapter is that Mr. Luczak walks to M. Das' secret temporary house (in which we are treated to more depictions of poverty). And thus the feeling of horror ceases after the M. Das resurrection twist is revealed as it is followed by long boring descriptive passages. (In my opinion, all of these long passages ought to have been cut out. Having established the idea that where there is poverty there is great Evil, Mr. Simmons is less accomplished in maintaining it (the books prose deteriorates as it goes on). But then if he had cut it out, he would be removing eighty percent of the book!) All of this then leads to a completely nonsensical ending that gives the book its sensational ending (this is sensation fiction after all), but if the reader really thinks about why any criminal group would use the Luczaks for their purposes when they could use someone with a lower profile than affluent westerners, the reader will immediately see that the ending is unlikely (in fact, it feels unearned). Then the book just sort of shuts down and the last 75 pages are so excruciating, that I had to fight an urge to quit. All of the mysteries remain mysteries- which is o.k. by me. After all, I had long since ceased to care. All together, I think the book would have been good if it were better developed. I mean if you are going to claim that strange cultures cause evil in the world, why not really dig into it. Why invent a Kali cult. Kali is widely worshipped in Bengal, where the story takes place. Do some research (by the way the Kali in Kali yuga and Kali mata (the goddess) are two different words; also no Indian woman buys saris by the bolt, so a bolt of cloth wouldn't be delivered- more like a bag or if she went nuts in the store a parcel). Look at how they worship her and then draw the connection between culture and poverty (that is if you can). In the end, the novel left me mostly with the impression that it was just a short story stretched with filler images- which is another way to say that the book suffers from poor plotting and development.Note: this book came out in 1985, a year after the mucho racist film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. One wonders if this book was inspired by the film?

  • By Karrigan Ambrian on July 29, 2010

    I had heard good things about this book, and was happy when I finally got my hands on it. I had no idea what the plot was about, so I just dove right into it, having no idea what to expect.It is deeply embarassing to me that this book is so highly regarded as "terrifying." It is almost unbelievably racist and xenophobic. For the majority of the book, the sheer xenophobia is the only "terrifying" factor. I am not exaggerating. The main character is appalled by the conditions of the city, the people, and the culture.We get treated to such terrifying descriptions as "masses of brown-skinned people", and people with "oily black hair". People with deformities, people sleeping in hovels, or in the streets, beggers - these are the "terrifying" things about this book.I just finished reading a different book that described the exact same circumstances...it was a true-life account of a doctor who created a hospital to help people in an impoverished country. Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder. I recommend it to anyone who reads this book and finds it terrifying. Maybe it'll cure you of your xenophobia, make you a little more accepting of different cultures and feel empathy - not terror - for people who make less money in a year than you have in your pocket. Maybe I should send it to Dan Simmons...he might need it the most.


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