Stung by a Charso-Bee: Daljit Nagra's Macaronic Ramayana
- ariel: A Review of International English Literature
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 52, Numbers 3-4, July-October 2021
- pp. 227-247
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This essay argues that Daljit Nagra's idiosyncratic adaptation of the Ramayana, in which he fuses multiple versions of the ancient epic (from different parts of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia), is more than just a comic version of the Sanskrit classic but represents a serious attempt to ensure an old text's relevance to a new readership. One way that Nagra manages to reach a highly diverse and widely dispersed audience is through his extensive use of interlingual wordplay, a technique that stylistically echoes the earlier diasporic writer Salman Rushdie. Reading this transnational version of the Ramayana through the lens of Jahan Ramazani's concept of a macaronic poetics, the essay analyzes the lexicological, phonological, and typographic effects of Nagra's poem, which combine to produce a faithful retelling of the ancient Hindu epic in a language and style that is thoroughly of the twenty-first century and uses translingual puns to connect the Ramayana to a Western audience as well as the Indian diaspora.