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‘Funeral Nights’ by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

History, poetry, travel. A unique chronicle of the Khasis of Meghalaya

Published 30.11.21, 08:30 AM

At the heart of Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih’s debut novel is a six-day funeral ceremony practised by the Lyngngams, a sub-tribe of the Khasis. The story begins when a group of friends from Shillong decide to travel to the West Khasi Hills to witness this extraordinary “feast of the dead”, but lose their way in a jungle. Over the next 11 nights, in order to pass the time, the friends discuss different facets of the Khasi tribe — social, political and cultural. The discussions lead to multiple narratives that explore the past, present and future of Meghalaya. 

Published by Context, Funeral Nights blends poetry, fiction and nonfiction to give readers an insight into the way of life of tribes in the northeastern part of the country. A pathbreaking novel in both its writing and subject, and peppered with unexpected moments of humour, there is much wisdom to be gained from Funeral Nights, which despite being centred around a ceremony for the dead, comes alive with stories of life and the living. 

- Upasya Bhowal 

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