Tony K. StewartDec 11, 2020
Witness to Marvels
Sufism and Literary Imagination
University of California Press 2019
In Tony K. Stewart’s book, Witness to Marvels: Sufism and Literary Imagination (University of California Press, 2019), we are taken into the imaginal realms of ogres, fairies, Sufi pirs and piranis and Hindu gods and goddess. The study focuses on pir katha, the fictional stories and hagiographies that features Sufi saints and complex cosmologies and highlights the generative capacity of literary cultural productions, as they provide fascinating insights into religious ideals of the Bangla-speaking world but also broadly South Asia. These stories, some which continue to live on through performance spaces into the modern period, are important textual traditions that invite its readers into marvelous worlds, where the characters and storylines requires one to explore and re-imagine how Islam and Hinduism interacted and transformed the landscape of the pre-modern Bengali world, such as through processes of continuity and adaptation, as opposed to fissures and disruptions, as we so often think. The book will be of interest to scholars who work on Islam in South Asia, as well as those who engage in literary studies, while the stories translated here will be a great resource for courses that engage in South Asian Islam.
Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.