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Animal's People


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About the Author

Indra Sinha was born in India and spent his childhood in Bombay and the hills of the Western Ghats. His work of non-fiction, THE CYBERGYPSIES, met with widespread critical acclaim. He lives in Sussex.


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 melange 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.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Last year's Man Booker Prize winner is a story with a message: Animal is a teenage boy who lives on the streets of the Indian city of Khaufpur. He goes around on all fours since his spine is badly damaged; he cannot walk normally. As an infant, he was one of the thousands of victims of a poison gas leak at an American-owned company, here just called "the Kampani." Animal also lost his parents "that night" (as the local people refer to the horrible event). Animal has a lively mind and a way with words, some of them angry and profane, some of them bitterly funny, as he gets caught up in the struggle of those in Khaufpur who seek long-delayed justice from the Kampani. Sinha, who frequently contributes to bhopal.net, has clearly based his story on the human and environmental disaster at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal in 1984. The result is a gripping novel that also reminds us of a continuing real-life tragedy. Recommended for all larger collections.-Leslie Patterson, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence, RI Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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