The Mongoose and the Monster

After a quiet November—which broke my streak of having something come out in every month of the year so far—I have new work in two books out in December!

One is an essay, “The Great Mongoose,” in the Spirits of Place anthology by Daily Grail Publishing, edited by John Reppion. I’m in there alongside such intimidatingly high-profile names as Alan Moore and Iain Sinclair (!) and many other writers whose work I admire.

Spirits of Place, Dec 2016
Spirits of Place, December 2016, featuring “The Great Mongoose”

The book is about place, about stories “embedded in the world around us …The spirits of place are the echoes of people, of events, of ideas which have become imprinted upon a location, for better or for worse.” In my essay I wrote about Rajagiriya, where I grew up—it’s a suburban town at the edge of the city of Colombo—which was once called Yakbadda, the devils’ forest. I wrote about flânerie, empire and public space; about monstrousness; and about exorcism.

I am fascinated by the yakku: to call them devils or spirits is of course a misnomer; they do not fall easily into any dichotomy between the divine and the demonic, or the natural and the unnatural. This fascination is also very evident in my other December publication, which is also my first comic (and 8th original fiction publication for the year!), “Vikurthimagga” (විකෘතිමග්ග), with art by Dave Johnson, in Asian Monsters by Fox Spirit Books, edited by Margrét Helgadóttir.

Asian Monsters, Dec 2016
Asian Monsters, December 2016, featuring “Vikurthimagga”

The comic is an alternate theory of the yaka—something to contrast with Ananda Coomaraswamy’s “life cult” that I talk about in Spirits of Place!—in which we discover the terrible secret of enlightenment, and the proximity of the monstrous to the ordinary.