Title : SHOES OF THE DEAD
Language : English
Author : Kota Neelima
Genre : Fiction
Publisher : Rupa Publications (2013)
Edition : 1st Edition
ISBN-13 : 9788129123961
ISBN-10 : 8184953054
Binding : Hardcover
Price : Rs. 495 ( Buy from Flipkart.com for Rs. 426/- ( 13% Off )
Pages : 288
The Book Summary : Crushed by successive crop failures and the burden of debt, Sudhakar Bhadra kills himself. The powerful district committee of Mityala routinely dismisses the suicide and refuses compensation to his widow. Gangiri, his brother, makes it his life&rsquos mission to bring justice to the dead by influencing the committee to validate similar farmer suicides. Keyur Kashinath of the Democratic Party&mdashfirst-time member of Parliament from Mityala, and son of Vaishnav Kashinath, the party&rsquos general secretary&mdashis the heir to his father&rsquos power in Delhi politics. He faces his first crisis every suicide in his constituency certified by the committee as debt-related is a blot on the party&rsquos image, and his competence. The brilliant farmer battles his inheritance of despair, the arrogant politician fights for the power he has received as legacy. Their two worlds collide in a conflict that pushes both to the limits of morality from where there is no turning back. At stake is the truth about &lsquoinherited&rsquo democratic power. And at the end, there can only be one winner. Passionate and startlingly insightful, Shoes of the Dead is a chilling parable of modern-day India.
My Point of View ( P.O.V ) : Let me start with the cover of the book. On the bottom you have an image of a drought-affected arid dry patch of land and on the top there is image of the Rashtrapati Bhavan ( i.e the corridors of power ) both seperated by the book title. So, without much difficulty you can connect with what the book is all about. You know instinctively that its related to politics, agriculture, farmers etc. But what makes the book interesting is the author's attempt to tell a story so real in the form of fiction. I liked the design of the cover. It is sober and simple, yet so compelling. The story is essentially dealing with farmer's suicides in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, central India, that are currently rampant due to myriad of reasons be it drought, debts burden and also many times connected to the dirty world of politics. The story is chilling and a gripping one, that'll definitely make you think, and one that is too close to reality that the author had to change names etc carefully, so as not to point directly at anyone as the circumstances and situations are very real, identifiable. Though written as a novel, the book does give a documentary feel as your flip through its pages.
The central character of the novel is Gangiri Bhadra who is educated, a city dweller with a job as a teacher. Sudhakar, a farmer commits suicide due to multiple debts and successive failure of his crops. The news of the suicide is faked by the powerful Mityala district committee, who tries to suppress such news, and as such compensation to the family i.e his widow gets cancelled. There are many such similar cases where families are deprived of their compensations as such suicides incidents get routinely dismissed off by the powerful committee. Gangiri, who is Sudhakar's brother steps in, leaving his job and settled city life, determined to fight this injustice and try change the prevailing situation so that no other farmer has to end their life so hopelessly in frustration. But will Gangiri be able to fight back or will he succumb to the system as well. Certain events as a result of his fight demonstrations does threaten the career of the young, ambitious politician Keyur Kashinath. Can one person really bring the much needed change? Can the loopholes in the system be fixed after all? Two contrasting worlds collide pushing both to their extremes. Who will win in the end?
The book is quite an engrossing read, giving great insights to the often dirty political scenario of the country, its dynastic politics and also the reality of so called democratic system that we claim our country to be set in where only electoral votes matter and any decisions are made with only 'votes' in mind. There aren't too many characters in the story, instead every character is given ample space and time and their profiles etched out in details beautifully and kept quite real-to-life. Once you start reading the book, you definitely won't put it down unless you've finished reading it.
Though a fiction, the book is a factual and honest attempt by the author highlighting a very sensitive and widely prevalent issue.
I'd rate the book 3 stars out of 5.
Positives : Extremely well written, the book is an easy and fast paced read. Highly recommended.
Negatives : None! Except perhaps the price.
Who will enjoy this? - Everyone especially those who want to know more about politics of the country and also its stark rural reality.
Buy or Don’t Buy? – A Must Buy!
About the Author : Kota Neelima is a political editor with The Sunday Guardian and a Research Fellow for South Asia Studies at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC. Her previously published work includes the novels Riverstones (2007) and Death of a Moneylender (2009). Neelima lives in New Delhi and Washington, DC. Shoes of the Dead is her third novel. She has also authored a book on devotion and spirituality, `Tirupati, a guide to life’ (2012).
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