Bitter Wormwood

Easterine Kire
Zubaan Books
Back to library
Kohima, 2007. A young man has been gunned down in cold blood—the latest casualty in the conflict that has scarred the landscape and brutalized the people of Nagaland. Easterine Kire’s novel traces the story of one man’s life, from 1937 to the present day. The small incidents of Mose’s childhood, his family, the routines and rituals of traditional village life paint an evocative picture of a peaceful way of life, now long-vanished. The coming of a radio into Mose’s family’s house marks the beginning of the changes that would connect them to the wider world. They learn of partition, independence, a land called America. Mose and his friends become involved in the Naga struggle for Independence, and are caught in a maelstrom of violence that ends up ripping communities apart. The herb, bitter wormwood, was traditionally believed to keep bad spirits away. For the Nagas, facing violent struggle all around, it becomes a powerful talisman: “We sure could do with some of that old magic now.” Bitter Wormwood gives a poignant insight into the human cost behind the political headlines from one of India’s most beautiful and misunderstood regions.