With spirits ruling the everyday functioning of the world, darkness descends upon the village in Nagaland, following the violation of a taboo in the local community. The resulting struggle and despair set the main characters Namu, Tola, and Thongdi on a quest to restore light in the village.
Kire’s characters reflect both the realities and complexities of life in Nagaland, successfully highlighting harmony, conflict, certainty, and uncertainty all in one. Especially evident are the strong female personalities shining through. Upon being asked which character she relates the most, Easterine Kire said:
That is an unusual question. Let me see. I relate not just to one character or one gender but to many characters on different levels. Naturally, I understand the viewpoint of the female characters and how they feel hesitant to contribute to matters of state, and I relate when they are acting intuitively. At the same time, I do relate to the journey of self-doubt that climaxes in actions of deep faith in the male character, Namu. We are all that person. We are all going through our own darkness, as a dear friend says about this book. We all struggle with our demons, and it is entirely up to us to combine faith and courage and kill those demons.
Spirit Nights touches on important and profound themes, feelings, and events, yet it is an exceptionally gripping read, making it easy to read the novel in one sitting. Was writing the book as enjoyable as it is reading it? The ICORN Secretariat asked Easterine Kire about which parts of Spirit Nights she found easy to write as well as whether there any bumps in the writing process. Kire reflected:
The part where the male protagonist chases the tiger into the night was great fun to write because it was so full of possibilities. In the darkness, and in the unchartered territory of the spirit world, anything could happen and does happen.
This was a book sitting inside me for a long time and growing in many directions. It was not difficult to write. It felt organic and right.
Spirit Nights, however, is only the latest of Easterine Kire’s published works. Kire’s prolific writing career includes the first ever published Naga novel, A Naga Village Remembered, amongst multiple poetry collections, short stories, and other books. We asked Easterine how writing Spirit Nights compare to her previous works, and she said:
The seed of the story of Spirit Nights is taken from another tribe, not mine. So I had to work hard on being culturally correct when I was including cultural information.
This is also the first time that I have written about a universe immersed into physical darkness. It meant moving away from descriptions and settings I used to take for granted. Everything had to be viewed through the prism of darkness. I guess that was the factor that differentiated it from my other works.
Originally from Nagaland, Easterine Kire was the first ICORN resident of Tromsø City of Refuge in Norway where she found exile in 2005. She is the recipient of numerous literary prizes, including ‘The Governor’s Medal for Excellence in Naga Literature’ (2011), ‘Free Voice’ (2013), and ‘The Hindu Lit for Life’ (2016), amongst others. Kire also holds a PhD in English Literature from Poona University.
Spirit Nights was published by Barbican Press on March 3rd, 2022, and you can purchase it here.