Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

Funeral Nights

A group of friends journey to a remote part of West Khasi Hills, in northeast India, to witness the performance of an ancient Lyngngam funeral ceremony that lasts six days. Concluding with the cremation of a beloved elder, a woman whose body has been preserved in a tree house for nine whole months, this may well be the last time Ka Phor Sorat, the feast of the dead, is performed.

By mistake, however, the group arrives early. So they wait, stuck in the jungle, spending their nights around a fire in the middle of a spacious hut built for them especially, sharing stories in what proves an unexpected journey of discovery.

Funeral Nights is a vast collection of tales both big and small, less about death than it is about life in all forms. It teems with admirable men and women, raconteurs and pranksters, lovers and fools, politicians and conmen, drunks and taxi drivers; it abounds with culture, history, gods, religions, myths and legends. Inspired by Boccaccio’s Decameron and The Arabian Nights, this is intimate access to a whole world, spectacular in its documentation of a tribe’s life and culture, and lush, warm, and entirely delightful in its telling.

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EBook: £12.99

More Info

  • Kabir Deb at The Usawa Literary Review interviewed Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih about the importance of folk narratives, and other literary and social issues.
  • Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih wrote about his journey to becoming one of India’s best-selling authors in Scroll — you can read the article here.
  • You can read an article by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih’s on conservation of forests in Khasi culture in The Wire Science, here.
  • A selection of poems by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih is available to read here.
  • Extract from a letter sent to Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih by acclaimed Indian poet Jayanta Mahapatra on 8 June 2023, shortly before Mahapatra’s death on 27 August 2023:
    Let me admit this before it’s too late. I am truly ashamed of myself. I’d like to apologise to you for not having spoken to you about that monumental book you wrote on the Khasis. It is just this week that I got a copy of Funeral Nights, and I am beginning to learn and enjoy your knowledgeable, lyrically written prose.
    I am really sorry I wasn’t aware of its publication. This shows how very careless and self-centred I am. Let me confess: it has epic proportions … So well written and researched, my friend.
    My admiration for you grows as I open its pages. Sincerest good wishes to you.

 

Format: Ebook
Publication date (UK): 2 July 2024
Publication date (US): 2 July 2024
ISBN: 9781913505967
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505974
Availability: World English exc India
Number of pages: 1000

Reviews


India Today

‘The stories . . . in this 1,000-page book are riveting, but what makes it truly unputdownable are the vital connections it draws to daily life.’


The Telegraph (India)

‘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.’  


The Indian Express

‘It was more like sitting down with old friends and listening to conversations. Amusing, enlightening, witty conversations that opened my eyes, made me think . . . Funeral Nights is the sort of book that should be made required reading. We need many more books like this, insightful and well-written, opening a window on the often-ignored corners of India.’


Hindustan Times

‘Funeral Nights is a seminal work of great scholarship . . . It belongs on the bookshelves of students, journalists, filmmakers, travellers, artists, academics, and of Khasis and non-Khasis interested in culture. It’s an important book, an ethnographic achievement.’  


The Wire (India)

‘Funeral Nights is, without doubt, the strangest book I have read in recent times. Its stories, long and short, fascinate me. Its rich variety fills me with awe.’


The Tribune (India)

‘This easy read, laced with humour, will effortlessly acquaint you with the magical world of this lesser-known tribe.’  


The Hindu

‘Funeral Nights is an intense and acute study of Meghalaya’s socio-cultural mores, its rich natural environment at the mercy of plunderers, and the political twists and turns that have shaped its history.’  


The Shillong Times

‘It is indeed a heady mix and through all of it emerges the life and character of a people caught in the tension between tradition and modernity, culture and change, the old religion and the hegemony of Christianity, ethnic survival and influx, militancy and the scammers of democracy.’  

K. Satchidanandan

‘A closely woven sequence of narratives . . . that Mircea Eliade or Claude Levi-Strauss would have read with admiration.’

Jerry Pinto

‘A novel of huge ambition and tremendous appetite. Or is it a novel at all?’

Janice Pariat

‘Joyously, gloriously, don’t-give-a-damnedly its own thing . . . vast as the sense one gets from gazing at the hills. I am, it tells you, almost endless.’

Nilanjana Roy

‘Extraordinary . . . gorgeous in every way.’


The Assam Tribune

‘Very rarely do we come across a book that leaves us in awe, Funeral Nights will do that to you – it’s a book of epical proportions, taking you into the depths of a tribe’s cultural life.’


Scroll.in

‘Funeral Nights is an epic journey in stories . . . Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih folds a vast history, mythology and ethnography into a giant patchwork narrative.’


The Bangalore Review

‘This 1,024-page novel is a marvel of a book, an extraordinary achievement in Indian fiction, an epic of the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya.’