"I used to be human once. So I'm told. I don't remember it myself, but people who knew me when I was small say I walked on two feet just like a human being..."
Have you ever felt a character was so real it leapt at you straight off the page?
Yesterday evening, that’s exactly what happened to me. This character lunged at me with the full force of his personality and chased me round the room. He didn’t have the proper use of his legs and well, I was limping from a sprained ankle. So it was a bit of a slow motion chase. But still quite dramatic with screaming, flailing arms and a great deal of shuffling.
Anyway, he soon cornered me and demanded that April’s book club slot be given to him, as I had promised last year when I first met him. You see, he had waited patiently for one whole year so that Jhumpa Lahiri could do her thing.
Now he was back to claim his position.
He thrust his story into my hands and gave me a warning look (I-know-where-you-live) before scuttling back inside the book to narrate.
So without further ado, let me introduce you to the star of April’s book club... <drum roll please> ...
He's simply one of a kind.
If I described him to you as an orphan survivor of a chemical catastrophe which had left him permanently on all fours and with a penchant for using earthy, colourful language, he would probably unleash said language at me with a scathing, comical retort.
So I’d better not.
He wouldn't give a monkey's to hear his story had been shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize and that it had won the 2008 Commonwealth Writer's Prize. Prizes, schmizes he'd probably say (couched in that earthy, colourful language I mentioned earlier).
So I’d better not tell you about those things either.
As you'll find out, Animal is a young adult character full of depth and raw humour who’ll capture your attention from the moment you open the book. What he really wants to tell you is what it's like to live in his world on all fours. He wants to chat to you about his life after India's Chernobyl - aka the 1984 Bhopal disaster. You wouldn't think laughter and this heavy topic go hand in hand, but with Animal on the scene all bets are off.
We'll meet his best friend, Jara the dog. He'll tell you about crazy Ma Francini at the Convent. And he'll share his deepest thoughts with you about Nisha, the daughter of a local musician. Is he falling for her? Does he see a possible future with her?
He'll show you how the cynical exploitation by corporations affects those like him at grass roots level. Can his people defeat institutional corruption to get the compensation and justice they deserve? Will they band together or will individual self-interest tear them apart?
All will be revealed as Animal speaks with brutal honesty about his life, his people and the wider issues of justice, equality and the nature of humanity.
Yes, solemn themes. With plenty of laughs along the way.
In fact, something tells me this is a special character who will stay in our hearts and memories for a very long time to come...
"An extraordinary achievement." - Independent
"Every now and then you come across a novel so honest it leaves you gasping for breath." - Indian Express
"Bawdy, irreverent ... Animal's compelling vernacular, with its mangled, Yoda-like syntax, conjures up the colour, cruelty and camaraderie of life in the Indian city... ." - New Statesman
"A glorious sense of humour ... Sinha's lyrical story touches on universal truths." - Daily Telegraph
"A scorching account of the Bhopal disaster's harrowing legacy doesn't sound like a lot of fun. But it is." - Guardian
"Explores the really big issues ... and does not flinch from what it discovers." - Observer
Amazon Product Details
· Paperback: 400 pages
· Publisher: Pocket Books (4 Feb 2008)
· Language: English
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars (30 customer reviews)
Link to book via Amazon:-