Song of Kali explores mythic evil in a modern setting. Poet and journalist Robert Luczak is assigned to travel to Calcutta to find the great Bengali poet M. Das. Although Das disappeared years ago and is believed to be dead, new poems supposedly written by him have surfaced. Luczak travels to Calcutta with his Indian-born, British-educated wife, Amrita, and their seven-month-old baby, Victoria. They are greeted by M. T. Krishna, who introduces Luczak to a student, Muktanandaji, who says that he is an initiate into the Kapalikas, the cult of Kali. Muktanandaji claims to have taken a drowning victim to Kali as an offering and to have seen Kali bring that person, Das, back to life.
The Bengali Writers’ Union has a more prosaic explanation for the new work by Das. Its representatives show Luczak a letter, purportedly from Das, explaining how he had a life-changing experience that caused him to seek new subjects anonymously in Calcutta. In the meantime, Amrita befriends a young woman, Kamakhya Bharati, who introduces herself as Das’s niece. Police inspector Singh asks Luczak about his knowledge of the poet’s whereabouts.
Luczak receives a purported Das manuscript in the midst of a mob, and Krishna gives him a revolver “in anticipation of your meeting with Mr. M. Das.” At night, Luczak reads most of the poem, a “Song of Kali,” which is about the goddess’s reign on Earth. After threatening to accuse the Bengali Writers’ Union of counterfeiting the poem, he convinces...
(The entire section is 617 words.)