Composed in the mid-sixteenth century, The Sound of the Kiss, or The Story That Must Never Be Told, could be considered the first novel written in South Asia. Telugu, the language spoken in today's Andhra Pradesh region of southern India, has a classical literary tradition extending over a thousand years. Suranna's masterpiece comes from a period of intense creativity in Telugu, when great poets produced strikingly modern innovations. The novel explodes preconceived ideas about early South Indian literature: for example, that the characters lack interiority, that the language is formulaic, and that Telugu texts are mere translations of earlier Sanskrit works. Employing the poetic style known as campu, which mixes verse and prose, Pingali Suranna's work transcends our notions of traditional narrative. "I wanted to have the structure of a complex narrative no one had ever known," he said of his great novel, "with rich evocations of erotic love, and also descriptions of gods and temples that would be a joy to listen to."
The Sound of the Kiss is both a gripping love story and a profound meditation on mind and language. Shulman and Rao include a thorough introduction that provides a broader understanding of, and appreciation for, the complexities and subtleties of this text.
The BeginningChapter 1Dvaraka City, Where the Story BeginsKalabhashini on the Swing and Rambha in the SkyChapter 2Narada Studies MusicEnter ManistambhaManikandhara's PilgrimageChapter 3Rambha Entices ManikandharaKalabhashini Flies off with the SiddhaThe Temple of the Lion-Riding GoddessKalabhashini ReturnsRambha Meets RambhaNalakubara Meets NalakubaraChapter 4The Story of Salina and SugatriEnter Alaghuvrata. Kalabhashini Is SacrificedManistambha Tours the World with His WifeChapter 5The Baby Who TalksSarasvati Decodes Brahma's StoryManistambha and Sumukhasatti Exchange GendersA Lecture on YogaSvabhava and Madasaya at SrisailamChapter 6Manikandhara Fights the Porcupine DemonThe Story of Alaghuvrata and His SonsSatvadatma's QuestionMadhuralalasa Comes of AgeChapter 7Kalapurna in LoveThe Wedding of Kalapurna and MadhuralalasaAbhinavakaumudi Becomes JealousChapter 8Kalapurna Conquers the WorldHomecomingThe Story of the NecklaceInvitation to a Second ReadingGuide to Pronunciation and List of CharactersIndex of Names and Technical Terms