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Devadasi’s colourful characters teeter on fault lines of race, sex, gender, religion and history.

 

Devaki’s passionate personal story underpins wider concerns. Against the backdrop of the community’s historical role in preserving Bharatanatyam, does Devaki – a dancer who performs sexual services besides temple duties – find emotional outlet, individual expression or empowerment?

 

Set in the Madras Presidency towards the end of the Victorian era, the narrative’s social arc contrasts Raj life and desi existence. An English civil servant, on official duty in a muffasil town near Devaki’s village, finds her a convenient time-pass.

 

Love and relationships take many forms: Devaki’s adoration of Albert and her revulsion for her patron; the unusual emotional bond with her sexually indeterminate brother; devotion to the deity and her battle with herself weave a chiaroscuro of joys and sorrows that make up this ‘dedicated’ young woman’s life. The storyteller’s Gen Z audience raises perennial societal issues – sex, religion, caste, rural conditions – which frame how ‘choice’ governed and continues to govern lives in India.

Devadasi by Maya Goray

RM40.00Price
  • Estimated delivery 2-3 weeks

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