The Rape of Sita
Afterword by Tuzyline Jita Allan
Banned upon its first publication in Mauritius, this stylistically radical novel is both starkly modern in its conception and reminiscent of ancient myth in its captivating narrative and allegorical power. Deftly blending oral and literary traditions, Collen has crafted a short epic that evokes legacies of oppression and resistance—of women, of cultures, and of nations.
Through the intersecting frames of Indian, African, and European cultures that make up the tiny African island nation of Mauritius emerges Sita—a living legend in her country and activist in the national struggle for independence. She is also a strong woman who has buried a secret that threatens to overwhelm her. As Sita makes terrifying plunges into the black hole of her fragmented memory, her painful and angry search to come to terms with her past extends beyond her own violation. Echoing ancient folk tales and religious prophecies, Sita's modern-day struggle to remember her own history and rape comes to symbolize all rapes, all violations, and all colonizations.
"Exquisitely crafted, The Rape of Sita is an insightful novel. Its extraordinary characters, rooted in the contemporary world, are drawn against a rich backdrop of tradition and mythology. . . . [It] transcends personal tragedy and stands as a metaphor for all forms of oppression."
"A delicately textured novel, its technique drawn partly from oral tradition, that interweaves a modern story with mythological pre-history. It takes up the cudgels, with warmth, on behalf of Sitas then and now."
"A witty, sharp protest against the age-old unfair treatment of women. . . . A beautifully gentle and subtle book . . . haunting and touching."