ANIMAL’S PEOPLE by Indra Sinha

 

When I bought this book, it was to add to my Asian authors’ collection. Or something like that.

Never had I thought this book (shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize) would project so much of pain and human suffering, or even discuss one the greatest industrial tragedy in the world: The Bhopal Disaster.

But of course, neither Bhopal nor Union Carbide was mentioned in the story.

The tragedy was caused by the unscrupulous Kampani (company) and the victim was the entire city of (fictional) Khaufpur.

Our main character in the story is of course, Animal, followed by his lady love Nisha, the activist Zafar (Nisha’s lover), and then Dr.Elli Barber, an idealist-American doctor. Then we have Ma Franci, the French nun who brought up Animal; and Nisha’s musician father as well.

Though Animal is a victim (I find the word too much of an understatement in this story) of the tragic incident, he does not crave for sympathy, instead shuns it and embraces the name and virtue of an animal. There are sometimes where you wouldn’t feel sorry for him either, given his attitude and scheming mind.

Animal’s main interest is Nisha, and he would go to any extend to prove it. He would poison Zafar and even volunteers to be the Jamispond (James Bond) of Zafar’s movement, to spy on Dr.Elli. All these in the name of love.

Though he potrays a rough-and-tough image, Animal could be innocent at times. When Nisha shows him pictures of Khaufpur and her father on the internet, Animal asks of his picture. This was THE moment when I had to stop for a break.

I like the relationship between Animal and his friend-foe Farouq, who is also Zafar’s aide and number two in his activists work. Animal and Farouq always fight and exchange profanities at each other, pulling at each other in all situation but there is a kind of brotherly love between them you can see every now and then.

Animal’s People is a book I enjoyed due to the interesting plot, elements of realism and how the characters are shown as mere humans, which proves to be extraordinary in every way. If you feel strongly about industrial accidents that happen every now and then everywhere, this would be an interesting catch.

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