Hali and Collected Stories

G. V. Desani, Author McPherson $20 (207p) ISBN 978-0-929701-12-7
All the characters in Desani's allegorical prose poem ``Hali'' carry on a daily dialogue with Rahu, or Death. The Indo-English novelist fashions a private mythology, as Hali, the hero, learns through his beloved Rooh that love is the only antidote to death and nothingness. First published in 1950 in Britain where it was performed as a ``poem-play,'' ``Hali'' is an ornate, rapturous meditation. Best known for his Joycean novel All About H. Hatterr , Desani reveals his modern side in the 23 conversational stories also gathered here. Set in India, they confirm him as a master of subtle metaphysical comedies, a fabulist, fantasist, moralist and keen satirist of life's follies, absurdities and ego trips. In ``With Malice Aforethought,'' a travel agent professing a desire for spiritual self-realization betrays his me-first individualism. Stories about a suicidal teenager reborn as a worm and a lama's post-death experiences reflect Desani's playful yet questing forays into Eastern spirituality. Chance, karma, and kismet and circumstances toss his characters about like leaves--as in ``A Border Incident,'' where a sentry who saves a drowning boy is promptly punished for his bravery. (May)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
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