Animal’s People

Indra Sinha, Author . Simon & Schuster $25 (374p) ISBN 978-1-4165-7878-9

Orphaned Bhopal slum resident Animal, who “used to be human” before an industrial chemical accident left his bones “twisted like a hairpin,” narrates in a rich argot this tense and absorbing Brit import, shortlisted for the Booker in 2007. Animal, who walks on all fours, focuses on the events surrounding the impending trial of the “Kampani” responsible for the accident. He falls in with a group led by famous musician Somraj; Somraj’s daughter, Nisha; and Nisha’s boyfriend, “Saint Zafar,” who devotes his life to fighting the Kampani and caring for the poor. Tensions mount as suspicious “Amrikan” doctor Elli Barber opens a clinic in the slums, lawyers from the Kampani arrive in Khaufpur to negotiate a settlement, and Animal, desperately in love with Nisha, copes with his desires and frustrations. While some of the supporting characters remain one-dimensional, Animal’s voice—a mélange of grit, pointed social criticism, profanity and lust—brings to life what could have become a tendentious parable, and his struggles personalize the novel’s grand themes of secrecy, betrayal and unexpected acts of love and kindness. Sinha balances big issues with an intimate depiction of life at its bleakest. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/24/2007
Release date: 03/01/2008
Paperback - 374 pages - 978-0-7432-5920-0
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4165-7885-7
Paperback - 374 pages - 978-1-4165-7879-6
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