Animal's People - Book of the Month
by Indra Sinha
From the pen that wrote THE DEATH OF MR LOVE comes another exciting and absolutely original new novel, well worth a Booker Prize. Its author, Indra Sinha, was born in India and spent his childhood in Bombay and in the hills of the Western Ghats.
ANIMALS PEOPLE defies a perfunctory review. Interlaced with several languages, it resembles zari-work or a Persian rug, yet it seems to be a living thing with the startling golden eye of a goat, the sharpness and density of a pomegranate and the delicate flavour of Tai chai. It is a deeply affecting book - witty, egregious, timely and memorable.
The book is set in rural India, anciently ruled by maharajahs, now the site of a ruined American chemicals factory, where the heat in the dry season is almost insupportable, but when it rains it is “cloud horses pissing in the eye of the world”.
There are beautiful passages in the book. Hideously damaged and orphaned by a huge escape of poisonous gas from the factory (based on the Bhopal disaster), the usually foul-mouthed Animal lies beside a child prostitute, Anjali. He looks in awe at her “mysterious thing”:
“like a canna lily, two whorled petals whose edges are almost black, tinged with purple like the bloom on a grape...it reminds me of the hibiscus at the base of whose petals is a tube filled with liquid, you pick a flower and suck, it’s joyous as honey...I try to imagine the womb and realise it is an empty space, which means there is nothingness at the very source of creation...by some this grace is worshipped with incense and flowers and prayers...it contains the whole world...in it’s depths is the whole of the past plus all that will be...the power of this grace makes nuclear bombs look like fire crackers, the glory is that it makes its home between the thighs of this child whose thighs are bruised by the hips of drunken men...”
Yet so damaged is Animal that even he thinks of himself as a brute.
The plot of this story is intricate, worldly and unpredictable, and the book is as generous in its humanity as it is in its humour.
If you buy your copy of ANIMAL'S PEOPLE through Indra Sinha's website, each book will earn 60p for the Bhopal Medical Appeal.
Read our interview with Indra Sinha.