Book Review Animal’s People By Indra Sinha
Oh what a book!!
The book is set in a fictional town called Khaufpur. It is based on the aftermath of the Union Carbide Gas Disaster in Bhopal, India that wreaked havoc on the lives of the people living in the city then and now. The book is about the struggle of The Poor in the face of corporate greed and profit – and about the existence of The Poor in spite of that. It is a damning account of corporate greed and profit.
‘I used to be human once. So I am told.’ is how we meet our main character Animal in the first page of the book. He is a hard-edged, fearless 19 year-old boy who has grown and survived in a city of tormented people who suffer ill health, painful lives and early, agonizing death after ‘that night’ of terror.
‘Animal’s People’ is an honest, poetically stark and provocative book about life, love, fear, hope and most of all friendship. Early in life, Animal’s spine was twisted through the effects of the poison leaked ‘that night’ and also the poison leaked into the water he drinks and into the food he eats. His twisted spine forces him to walk on hands and feet, on ‘all fours’, hence his name. After living a life scavenging for food at the mercy of insults of many, the book is about the people who Animal meets in his 19th year of life who love, feed and nurture him, helping him to blossom from a defensive being to a full blown human being.
You need to be prepared to enter a new world in the first pages of the book and you need to plough through them because Animal introduces the reader to a whole host of beautiful characters who share and dare.
- We meet Zafar, a man who fights for justice and for the people, who believes that because the people of Khaufpur have nothing to loose, this is what will eventually lead them to victory. He is prepared to die for them.
- We meet Nisha with whom Animal falls in love. She is kind to him and treats him with honesty, not pity or revulsion… but Nisha is also in love with another.
- We meet Elli, a doctor from the United States who gives up all she knows to help the people of the town. But they do not trust her so she has to fight for their trust.
- We also meet Farouqi, the proud fighter and Somraj, a singer who lost his voice to the chemicals ‘that night’
Animal is vulgar and rough. He lies and is obsessed with sex. He is afraid of no-one and denies being human. At the same time, he is caring and he reluctantly takes up the voice of truth where others do not dare. He is an intriguing character with whom, if we are honest, we can each find something of ourselves. You become repulsed with this boy sometimes but despite this you grow to love him and his friends through the journey of the book. The lives of you and them, we and us become entwined… and you laugh and you cry.
Indra Sinha captures every essence of our humanity, tingling our consciousness about how inhumane the world can be, and at the same time, about the need to unite to take up the fight for a better life!
In ‘Animal’s People’ you can read ‘Having nothing means we have nothing to lose. So armed with the power of nothing, we are invincible and we are bound to win.’
There is so much more to discover in this book.
The first pages take an effort but are as compelling as the rest of the book.
In general the book is contagious; and sometimes a little too crazed for those of us who believe we have our feet firmly planted in a sane world.
The last 100 pages are full of tension keeping the reader turning the pages.
It is a book about people.
A book that makes you recoil in shame.
A book to laugh and cry with!
A must read
I really loved this book and would need to read it again because the speed with which I read it the first time means I probably skipped over some golden nuggets.