Animal's People by INDRA SINHA

I have just finished reading Animal’s People by Indra Sinha. Firstly I find the style of writing these days a bit strange. A novel is a way of presenting your thoughts, perceptions, doubts beliefs to your readers as a story.You use it as a vehicle to propagate your beliefs, just as parables were used to spread religious beliefs.

Then why, all award winning novels, at least most of them, are deliberately made obtuse, narrated in a complicated fashion is beyond understanding. Still everybody to his own. Who am I to stand in the way of literary development.

Coming to the novel in question, I was told that this book is about the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy. So I was very happy to get hold of a copy and diligently went through it, though I find the style rather tedious for my reading comfort.

Yes, The novel is about the infamous disaster. I had hoped that it will fill a vacuum existing in Indian English novels of ignoring Indian historical events which are of vital importance. I went through the whole book expecting that the author will throw some light on what actually happened. Some new insight was expected .The passage of more than twenty years blunts the sharp edges of the agony and maybe the reader will get a glimpse of some truth behind the events.

But this book is silent on this aspect. If somebody is not aware of the Bhopal gas disaster, this book will not educate him in anyway. The author has tried to tell the story of the survivors, their agony in his own way, so be it. But anybody who has not heard about the disaster, how does he appreciate this novel. Just for the strange way of writing, some dirty vernacular words and some sex. These are passé in every book these days.
Where is the main story, I want to ask.

It is apparent that the author feels for the victims. But do we call a cripple an animal because his deformity does not allow him to walk on his two feet.

All these years after the disaster, what has troubled us was the possibility that perhaps, the victims were not adequately cared for. Due to government apathy, callousness of the people who owned the industry, may be the victims were left fending for them selves. I hoped this novel will talk about these issues from a historical and human perspective. But, in this book the victims and their spokesmen appear to be more interested in ensuring that the company owners suffer some undefined punishment than getting some relief, medical treatment and compensation for their pain . That is why they are made to refuse treatment from a volunteer doctor because she is American. They hold demonstrations against politicians, but to what purpose. Frankly, I could not make out what the author wants to convey. That revenge is more important than relief for the victims. That is not a good message.

And Ma Franci, if the writer has modeled this character on Mother Theresa, he can only be pitied.


Swati said...

I really enjoyed your extremely honest review of this book. I have not read it, but based on your review I probably won't - it sounds like a rather superficial book! I agree completely that too many books these days are written with little introspection / analysis and too much stylization. I was reminded of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck - how simple, linear and absolutely beautiful the writing was.

Ma T said...

This is exactly the kind of review I like to read. It's very informative concerning what the book is and is not about. I appreciate that very much. I recently read Bitter Fruit because reviewers said it was about apartheid in South Africa. That description in no way prepared me for what I read which was NOT very much about apartheid. If I want to know about the event described in Animal's People, I'll look elsewhere for my information. :)

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