In Easterine Kire's stories, the boundaries between magic and reality drift away, leaving us to marvel at simple yet fantastical folktales about human connection. The title story in this collection is about feeling trapped by other people's definitions of who we are. The Bear-man finds love in the beautiful and compassionate Rain-maiden but thinks he would never be good enough for her. He concludes that if he reveals his true feelings she would ridicule him like everyone in his life has always done. He grows gruff and antisocial, believing that he could never find friendship-least of all, love.
The other stories in this collection represent oral narratives from the people of Nagaland in northeast India, stories shared privately around a glowing hearth-spirit stories that the narrators swear are true encounters. While "Forest Song," "New Road," "River and Earth Story," and "The Man Who Lost His Spirit" were narrated to the author by local storytellers, "The Man Who Went to Heaven" and "One Day" are entirely based on Naga folktales. "The Weretigerman," meanwhile, is woven around the pre-Christian Naga tradition of certain men becoming dual-souled with the tiger.
In these stories, illustrated in full color by graphic artist Sunandini Banerjee, Kire brings Nagaland come alive with her rich portrayal of both the natural and the spiritual world, which, to the Naga mind, harmoniously coexisted until the recent past.
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