The Giant Dark by Sarvant Hasin explores the complex and intense relationship between Aida, a female singer with a groupie following that puts the Swifites to shame, and her muse Eshan. The book sheds light on a multitude of relationships; the complex mother-daughter bond, the possessive dynamics of fans and artists and the inescapable link between past and present. Yet, at the heart of the novel, lies not a tragic love story, but the destruction and creation left by an artist and a muse.
A nod to the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, Hasin explores the dangers of being an artist tethered to a muse. However, for those who are looking for a modern retelling of a Greek mythology, I must warn you that Hasin takes inspiration from the tragedy rather than a new perspective that authors such as Madeline Miller and Jennifer Saint offer. This book ties more closely to ‘Open Water’ and Sally Rooney, where unspoken words convey more than dialogue ever could.
The book opens with the ominous possession of the fans, “Many of us were in love with her already, even without seeing her face”. Hasin builds on this entitlement through the whole book, as chapters flick from the past and present, we learn that Aida and Eshan are tied together both emotionally and artistically, using each other with a lack of regard to the intensity of their devotion. Perhaps entitlement is the premise of the book, a mother feels entitled to her daughter’s life and an artist feels entitled to a muse. I think Hasin’s subversion of gender roles makes the reader question this entitlement even more.
I will not deny that the second part of the book felt a little rushed and untethered. However, maybe this is what Hasin wanted to convey, the feeling of confusion and unsettlement when you have lost the very thing that defines your being.
I would recommend The Giant Dark to lovers of Rooney, Caleb Azumah Nelson and anyone looking for one hell of an emotional rollercoaster.