Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham’s The Old Days of the Khasis

Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham’s The Old Days of the Khasis

20% of goal
$1,001 pledged
$5,000 goal
4 ungluers
14 days to go

A few personal words from the translator, Janet Hujon, about why she has written this book, why it's important that it should be widely read, and why the project is dear to her:

"I was motivated to write this book not only because 'Tales of Darkness and Light' is not widely known in English, but also because it is not well-known by many in India. There are those (who are not native speakers of Khasi) who recognise the poem's greatness but they are few and far between, partly because Khasi is a minority language. Northeast India has 'exotic' connotations, because unlike the dominant Hindu and Muslim identities we did not have a script until relatively recently and were considered 'backward'. Those old colonial prejudices towards the East have played a role in shaping the rest of India's comparative ignorance of life in Northeast India and translating Tham’s work into English has, perhaps paradoxically, offered one way to address this issue.
What really made me take on the challenge to translate, however, was my late father's belief that I should do it. The relatives of the poet also felt that my long association with English and the fact that I still speak my own language made me the ideal candidate to carry the torch! I hope the book will do justice to their faith in me.

-- Janet Hujon, March 2018

Soso Tham (1873–1940), the acknowledged poet laureate of the Khasis of northeastern India, was one of the first writers to give written poetic form to the rich oral tradition of his people.

Poet of landscape, myth and memory, Tham paid rich and poignant tribute to his tribe in his masterpiece The Old Days of the Khasis. Janet Hujon’s vibrant new translation presents the English reader with Tham’s long poem, which keeps a rich cultural tradition of the Khasi people alive through its retelling of old narratives and acts as a cultural signpost for their literary identity.

Tales of Darkness and Light will be enjoyed by anyone who loves good poetry. It is essential reading for those with an interest in Indian literature and culture and in the interplay between oral traditions and written literary forms.

This edition includes:

• English translation
• Critical apparatus  
• Embedded audio recordings of the original text

This translation will contribute to giving Soso Tham the wider recognition he deserves as a poet, and more generally to introduce Western readers to the rich literary traditions of northeast India.

—Dr Vayu Naidu, SOAS, University of London

Please give generously to support the publication of Tales of Darkness and Light. Any donation will be rewarded with a free copy of the Unglued ebook and the opportunity to buy a special Ungluers edition in hardback or paperback to thank you for your support. Donations of certain amounts will unlock the following Premium rewards:

  • $25+ // Your name will be listed under "supporters" in the acknowledgements section and you will receive a 10% discount on ALL our books.
  • $50+ // Your name and link to your profile page will be listed under "benefactors" in the acknowledgements section and you will receive a 20% discount on ALL our books.
  • $100+ // Your name, link, and a dedication of your choice (140 characters max) will be listed under "bibliophiles" in the acknowledgements section and you will receive a 30% discount on ALL our books.
  • $300+ // In addition to the benefits above, we will create a unique, personalised edition of Tales of Darkness and Light specifically for you or for your company/institution. You will receive a deluxe hardback copy of this edition and we will be happy to supply any additional copies of your personalised edition (in either hardback or paperback) at a 30% discount.

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At Open Book Publishers, we believe that knowledge is for sharing. We are a non-profit, Open Access publisher, committed to making high-quality research freely available to readers around the world. As well as being published in ebook, paperback and hardback editions, all our books include a free online edition that can be read via our website, downloaded, reused or embedded anywhere. These free online editions are currently being accessed by thousands of readers each month in over 140 countries around the world.

By making a contribution to this campaign you are not only supporting Tales of Darkness and Light: you are helping us to continue to make high-quality research free for anyone, anywhere to read.

Thank you for your support!




Why unglue this book? Have your say.

(March 1, 2018, 6:30 a.m.)
Thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign so far! Please share it with your networks if you can - we're so graetful to have received so much generosity but we'd love to get even closer to our goal!

Stay tuned for some words from the translator next week: Janet is going to be writing to tell everyone more about why she wrote the book and what Tham's poetry means to her.

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A campaign is running to unglue Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham’s The Old Days of the Khasis!

The rights holder, Open Book Publishers , has agreed to release Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham’s The Old Days of the Khasis to the world as a Creative Commons licensed ebook (CC BY) if ungluers can join together to raise $5,000 by March 30, 2018, 11:59 p.m.. You can help!

Campaign details: the fine print


  • Literary Collections / Asian / Indic
  • Literary Criticism / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
  • Poetry / Asian / General
  • Poetry anthologies


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