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The invisibles : a tale of the eunuchs of India / Zia Jaffrey
Bib ID 1359412
Format BookBook
Author
Jaffrey, Zia
 
Description New York : Pantheon Books, 1996 
ix, 293 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm. 
ISBN 0679415777
Summary

In 1984, Zia Jaffrey traveled to Delhi, and there glimpsed a group of cross-dressing men who had walked, uninvited and unannounced, into a wedding. They sang out of tune, hurled insults at the guests, and were finally paid to leave. She learned that these often-castrated, elusive figures were known as the hijras - "neither male nor female" - or the eunuchs, of India. They existed in thousands in every major city, were tolerated yet reviled, thought to bring good luck to newlyweds and newborns, yet also called extortionists and kidnappers.

Jaffrey set off on a journey to understand the forces of caste, poverty, sexual ambiguity, and the tradition itself that had allowed the hijras to persist into the modern age. In an investigation that points to her own sense of "otherness" in relation to Indian culture - she was born in New York of Indian extraction - Jaffrey delved into the mysteries of the hijras' closed world, uncovering details about their past, their daily lives, and their complex social structures. In this spellbinding book - at once travelogue, history, interview, and fiction - Jaffrey invents a hybrid voice to match her subject, as she meets journalists, police commissioners, detectives, and doctors and tries to trace the hijras' tradition through layers and layers of obfuscation and denial, as well as through Hindu, Muslim, and British history. She is drawn into a labyrinthine network of connections, coverups, and contradictions as mysterious as India itself.

Notes

Includes bibliographical references (287-293).

Subjects Eunuchs -- India.

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    Members of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori communities are advised that this catalogue contains names and images of deceased people. All users of the catalogue should also be aware that certain words, terms or descriptions may be culturally sensitive and may be considered inappropriate today, but may have reflected the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written.