Book Review – Dancers in the Dark by Ejaz Ahamed

“Dancers in the Dark: In the darkness of her skin, she found light” by Ejaz Ahamed is a compelling novel that beautifully navigates the intricacies of identity, societal prejudices, and the strength of the human spirit. Set against the backdrop of a rural village, the story follows the challenges faced by Kalki, a young girl with dark skin, as she grapples with the harsh realities of discrimination and self-discovery.

Author masterfully crafts a narrative that delves into the complexities of skin color and its impact on individuals and their interactions with society. Through Kalki’s experiences, readers are confronted with the harshness of prejudice and the psychological toll it takes on a young mind. The character development is skillfully executed, drawing readers into the emotions and struggles of Kalki and her family. The bond between Kalki and her brother Karthi is heartwarming and showcases the power of familial love and support in the face of adversity.

The author’s exploration of societal expectations and beauty standards is thought-provoking, shedding light on the pervasive influence of such norms on individuals’ lives. The novel effectively exposes the underlying biases and attitudes prevalent within the society, offering readers a chance to reflect on their own perceptions and biases.

The festival scenes are vividly depicted, creating a stark contrast between the celebratory atmosphere and Kalki’s personal struggles. This dichotomy serves as a powerful metaphor for the broader themes of hope and despair, as well as the resilience of the human spirit.

Author’s prose is both evocative and engaging, drawing readers into the characters’ world and emotions. The pacing of the novel keeps the readers invested, with well-timed plot twists that add depth and complexity to the story. The author’s ability to weave multiple storylines seamlessly adds layers to the narrative, providing a rich reading experience.

The characters, from Kalki and Karthi to Yashoda and the supporting cast, are multi-dimensional and relatable. Yashoda’s strength and determination serve as a beacon of hope throughout the novel, and her character arc is particularly inspiring. The themes of self-acceptance and breaking free from societal constraints are depicted through the characters’ journeys, leaving a lasting impact on the reader.

Though a debut novel, the author’s command over the story is unequivocal. The narrative oscillates between the tragic and the hopeful, the heavy and the uplifting, evoking a plethora of emotions. This story is a symphony of sorrow, depth, and inspiration—a composition of beauty inherent in simplicity and innocence. As I conclude this book, it claims a spot among my most cherished reads of the year, leaving an indelible impression on my heart. My wholehearted recommendation for “Dancers in the Dark: In the darkness of her skin, she found light” is a testament to its ability to captivate, move, and resonate with readers seeking stories that intertwine the human spirit with the complexities of life’s struggles.

In conclusion, “Dancers in the Dark: In the darkness of her skin, she found light” is a moving novel that addresses important themes of identity, prejudice, and the human spirit’s capacity for resilience. Ejaz Ahamed’s storytelling prowess shines through in this impactful narrative, making it a compelling read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the human experience.

About the Author


Born in India, Ejaz Ahamed lived in the UAE until early adulthood before moving to Australia. His passion for exploring social injustices and racial inequalities influenced his writings. In the past, he wrote poems about life, the world and its complexities. This is his debut novel. After studying at The University of Melbourne, he spent many years travelling to broaden his views of the world.

About the Book

Extreme poverty wasn’t the only impediment in seven-year-old Kalki’s life. Her pitch-black dark skin exacerbated her plight, making her a centre of ridicule in her village. Believing he’s the cause of his sister’s affliction, Karthi joins Kalki’s side as they become consumed with ways to whiten her skin. But the determined siblings invite more trouble and lose their mother’s life savings. Their journey to retrieve the money brings together a mysterious ally, an exotic festival, a divine intervention and a con artist changing their destinies in ways no one could have predicted.

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