Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

A GODDESS IN THE STONES by Norman Lewis

  • Written by  Jules Stewart
  • Published in Books
A GODDESS IN THE STONES by Norman Lewis
07 Aug
2017
Not for intrepid travel writer Norman Lewis the melancholy tea estates of Darjeeling or the placid beaches of Goa. Lewis’s writing career is always an adventure miles off the beaten track, in this case to the gangster-ridden badlands of Bihar. Apart from the caste war between untouchables and higher-caste criminals, his description of the poverty comes as an eye-opener

Lewis takes the reader behind the scenes on his journey to Bhagalpur, Bihar’s most tragic town, where more than 2,000 people perished during the 1989 General Election riots. On his approach to the outskirts, he drives into a scene of wrack and ruin. It is a frustrating visit, illustrative of the enduring Hindu-Muslim violence that has torn this society apart, with no answer to the question of accountability.

He continues his journey south through Bengal, to the highlands of Orissa and the totally different way of life of the caste-free indigenous tribal peoples who have survived here in isolation. On his way, he recalls his early insights into the working of caste, when in Calcutta he and several companions checked into a hotel in which five waiters ‘of varying degrees of responsibility’ stood behind their chairs. On entering his room, there is a powerful image of a sweeper, ‘who covered his face with an arm as if to ward off a blow, then scuttled almost bent from the room’.

Lewis is pleasantly surprised by Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, home to the tribes that have retained much of their aboriginal identity. It is the oppressive injustice of caste, more than the ubiquitous poverty of India, that he finds most grating. After explaining the multitude of ethnic origins of this society living in peaceful co-existence, he exclaims with a sense of relief, ‘Above all, the descendants of the original inhabitants of the sub-continent are free of the burden of caste.’

Click here to purchase A Goddess in the Stones by Norman Lewis

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe to Geographical!

University of Winchester

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Human Game – Tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    Hung out to dry
    Wetlands are vital storehouses of biodiversity and important bulwarks against the effects of climate change, while also providing livelihoods for mill...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Exhibitions

Four new galleries at Royal Museums Greenwich explore Britain’s maritime…

Books

by John Foot • Bloomsbury • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Deborah Baker • Chatto & Windus • £25 (hardback)

Books

By Lucy Seigle • Trapexe • £12.99/£6.99 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin • Pelican • £8.99 (paperback)

Books

by Christoph Baumer • IB Tauris • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Charles Lane • River Books • £40 (hardback)

Books

by Graham Hoyland• William Collins • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Dr Lucy Jones• Doubleday Books • £19.99 (hardback)

Books

by Daniel Pinchbeck• Watkins • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Jasper Winn • Profile Books • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Nathan H Lents • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £16.99…

Films

This hard-hitting marine conservation film – part of the Ocean…

Films

Here are the newest non-fiction offerings to satisfy that craving…

Exhibitions

The Society’s Earth Photo exhibition captures the planet’s natural riches…

Books

by Alanna Mitchell • Oneworld • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Christopher J Preston • The MIT Press • £20.95…

Books

by Jamal Mahjoub • Bloomsbury • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Joanna Kafarowski • Dundurn Press • 15.99 (hardback)

Books

by Peter Dauvergne • Polity Books • £9.99 (paperback)