This book is a damn good read. It’s set in Khaufpur, a city still reeling in the aftermath of a hazardous gas leak that killed thousands of people and destroyed countless lives through diseases, and genetic disorders. Yes, it’s based on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and is narrated by a 19-year-old boy called Animal, a street wanderer. Animal’s spine is bent due to inhalation of the poisonous gas and he has been walking on all fours ever since he can remember.
But the depressing story of the people’s fight against the ‘Kampani’ isn’t what makes it a good book. It is the character of Animal, with all his lies and scams, that is funny. The book uses Indianised versions of words, like ‘jamisponding’ (spying, derived from James Bond), ‘jarnallis’ (journalist) etc. Animal speaks with an unabashed, unashamed honesty, and his thought process is bloody funny. And when an ‘Amrikan’ doctor arrives to open a free clinic, Animal goes wild.
It has a mind-blowing narrative; something which most Indians would identify with. I could definitely picture myself in the bylanes of Bhopal, sorry, Khaufpur, arguing with the rickshawwallahs or idling away time in town gossip. I couldn’t help but laugh with Animal. Read this one before the ‘Apokalis’ hits you!