Desire of the Motha

DESIRE OF THE MOTH 978-1-937357-94-8


Advance reviews for Desire of the Moth

Wise, lush, and sexy, Champa Bilwakesh’s Desire of the Moth performs its own masterful dance, lulling us into both an India on the brink, and the splintered heart of Sowmya. Like the Shelley verse from which the novel takes its title, Desire of the Moth’s allure is keen, and the voice of Bilwakesh burns bright.

Elizabeth Eslami, author of Hibernate and Bone Worship

Desire of the Moth is a rich and wonderful novel. In following out the fate of a teenage widow in southern India, Champa Bilwakesh gives us a riveting tale of a woman’s escape to a dance tradition with its own rules, while India’s struggle for independence rages around her. In the end we have a remarkable story about freedom and its many prices.

Joan Silber, author of Ideas of Heaven

Our heroine–a child widow, a Brahmin outcast, an apostate and adulteress, who moves from the ancient world of temple dancer to early Bollywood starlet–helplessly scandalizes everyone around her and is tossed about by a fractious India, seeking its independence and its soul. This tangle of lives and plots, worthy of Dickens, comes to us in Bilwakesh’s lucid, poetic storytelling style that, like Indian dance itself, enchants.

Wilton Barnhardt, author of Lookaway, Lookaway

When a shorn and shunned fifteen-year-old Brahmin widow meets an accomplished devadasi and studies the forbidden dances, her transformation parallels the intense social, political and cultural changes in South India during the struggle for independence. In lush prose that pulsates with music, Champa Bilwakesh gives Desire of the Moth both luscious sensuality and artistic gravitas.

Ellen Meeropol, author of House Arrest

Champa Bilwakesh’s Desire of the Moth is a rich and densely-detailed novel, atmospheric and heady with sound and smell and sensation. A triumph of empathetic imagination, intensely personal and sweepingly historical, this novel takes us from India, 1928 through the tumultuous years of late colonialism and the nascent Indian film industry by charting one woman’s journey into a life beyond her caste. Sowmya’s story—a Brahmin girl married at 10, widowed at 11, and hermetically sealed inside the rules for widows—will cause your heart to ache, then break, before Sowmya discovers the rigors of devadasi dance that just might be her salvation. A spellbinding book.

CJ Hribal, author of The Company Car