This is NOT for the faint of heart. The story line is full of severe hardships, some of the events are R rated, and the diction itself is mostly curse words. The author uses all of these to show the grittiness of life for the protagonist, Animal. This is a very humbling read.
This book left me with sense of the suffering and resilience of people whose lives have been so severely affected by tragedy. Indra's writing, at times, left me awestruck by its beauty and sensitivity. I left out a star since there were also times that I was wondering why he was including scenes.
On the whole I recommend this book wholeheartedly.
I'd forgotten Bophal, but the word returned to me early in Animal's People. Corporations (and governments) like Union Carbide and Dow Chemical (and yes, the Canadian Government's recent approval of asbestos sales to India) count heavily on our short memories. In fact, it was just June 2010 when some of the employees responsible for the thousands of deaths and decades of suffering by the survivors finally received small fines and short sentences for their quarter century old crimes. A non-event during the Stanley Cup playoffs and the start of the FIFA World Cup in SA. I was asleep; I doubt it made the front page of any paper in North America.
Strangely, this book is not an irony nor a tragedy. Strangely, it does not conclude that law and human dignity have no chance at all in a conflict with money, unrestrained greed, and power. Strangely, the symbolic death of the narrator does not awaken common decency among the capitalists or the politicians in the novel. Strangely, Indra Sihha's novel is bursting with truth without once pretending to be historical. Strangest of all, he has written a comedy on a par with the best of that mythos. A youngster choses to be himself, against the arguments of science, of pity, of anger, of love.
This not an easy read although it is both compelling and exquisitely readable. At times it is a love story. At times, a mystery. At times, a quest. But always it is clear and sure-footed in it's flow of words and scenes. It is hard going only because it is honest and courageous in what it shows the reader. The world gone mad, the Apokalis, is examined in detail, not by a human boy or a human man, but by an animal--an animal created by accident by an Amrikan corporation producing wealth for its stockholders. It is tough, but not embittered. It is angry, but neither maudlin nor irrational. It is worth reading. Again.
I really enjoyed this book. Our main character, Animal, take us on an honest journey into his world where we meet the people of the city, feel their pain and suffering after the horrific accident at the American owned chemical plant in their town and follow his journey from a pan handler on the streets to a member of a group fighting for justice for the people of the disaster. The characters are entertaining and full of life. Worth reading.
Based on events of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India. Great characters including the feisty, likeable, sex-obsessed Animal. Interesting use of multiple languages provided an authenticity to the story - French, Hindi, and pigeon English that sounded like Yoda from Star Wars. Really liked book, I did
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