DescriptionSimultaneously funny and frightful, Srikanth Reddy's Underworld Lit is a multiverse quest through various cultures' realms of the dead. Couched in a literature professor's daily mishaps with family life and his sudden reckoning with mortality, this adventurous serial prose poem moves from the college classroom to the oncologist's office to the mythic underworlds of Mayan civilization, the ancient Egyptian place of judgment and rebirth, the infernal court of Qing dynasty China, and beyond--testing readers along with the way with diabolically demanding quizzes. It unsettles our sense of home as it ferries us back and forth across cultures, languages, epochs, and the shifting border between the living and the dead.
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About the Author
Reddy's bravery as a poet lies in his humbling acquiescence to a process that leads to such uncomfortable truths -- how can we judge the dead, who "do not cease in the grave" and whose lives cannot help but serve as the material for shaping our world? How do we make the world different when we are faced with the dilemma of our essential sameness? By making a poem that is a new world out of an old text, Reddy invites us to imagine how we might remake the world out of our grievous histories.
--Los Angeles Review of Books
"Elsewhere," to Reddy, is that place about which we never know enough. We pick up its signal in snatches of extinct, invented, or arcane dialect. Reddy's mastery--astonishing in its emotional depth, rhetorical facility, formal control, and lightness of touch--inheres in his marshalling of these snatches and bursts into fresh and unforgettable art.
Each time Reddy destroys the current state of the poem, a new one emerges, postponing annihilation.
--The American Reader