Indian-origin writer Indra Sinha's book 'Animal's People', based on the Bhopal gas tragedy, has been adjudged this year's best book in Europe and South Asia by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Writers' Prize, an increasingly valued and sought after award for fiction, is presented annually by the Commonwealth Foundation.
The Prize aims to reward the best Commonwealth fiction written in English, by both established and new writers, and to take their works to a global audience, thereby increasing appreciation of and building understanding between cultures.
‘Animal’s People’ is about the people who became victim of the interests of the rich and powerful and suffered for no faults of their own. It is a portrayal of their inhuman life equivalent to animals they are leading after Bhopal gas tragedy took place and the negligence of the damages done by ‘Amrikan Kampany’ to Animal’s people.
Novel is a first person narrative. Animal narrates the story. He has been given this particular name because he is destined to crawl on his fours due to the bending of his spine thanks to the chemical catastrophe which took place at the time of his birth. The gas leak not only swallowed his parents but turned his life from human to animal. He says in the very opening of the novel, “I used to be human once”. Animal, a victim of the tragedy also has become a kind of celebrity of the town being approached by the journalists for their stories and pictures.
His life has been full of pain without parents and physically helpless.
There are other interesting characters, French nun Ma Franci, American doctor Elli, political activist Zafar and Nisha, the lady animal likes, journalist on the website, Indira Sinha.
A positive note runs parallel the string of pain and suffering in the life of people as they have learned to survive on their own with no redressal of the damages by the Kampany. They have fallen into the state of deterioration. Sinha has beautifully portrayed a journey of life of animal through which the aspirations, expectations, fears and superstitions of the people have been portrayed. There is growing hatred among the people for the things foreign.
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