Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review: Shoes of the Dead by Kota Neelima

First of all, a big thanks to BlogAdda for providing me a wonderful opportunity to review this book.


Background:

As the folded cover page proclaims -

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’s mission to bring justice to the dead by influencing the committee to validate similar farmer suicides. 

Keyur Kashinath of the Democratic Party - first-time member of Parliament from Mityala, and son of Vaishnav Kashinath, the party’s general secretary - is the heir to his father’s 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’s 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 ‘inherited’ 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.

A book that will make you stroll through India’s corridors of power and politics with a perfect portrayal of how its consequences creep into the lives of the farmers forcing them to commit suicide. Get ready to read a gripping tale by Kota Neelima.


Characters:

The protagonist of the story is Gangiri Bhadra, a righteous activist-cum-farmer, who after his elder brother’s suicide decides to wear the Shoes of the Dead to bring justice to others ill-fated in his village and district. Others who play important roles in the novel are Nazar Prabhakar, a journalist who writes under no pressure; Keyur Kashinath, a first time MP son of a respected politician of Democratic Party; Videhi Jaichand, a survey analyst at the Centre for Contempory Societies. Rest pivotal characters include maha-Sarpanch Lambodar, moneylender Durga Das, Collector Gul among others.


Story:

The story of the novel takes place part in the village Gopur of distt. Mityala and part in Delhi. The increasing number of farmer suicides in Mityala constituency under MP Keyur Kashinath after the inclusion of Gangiri Bhadra in the district suicide committee (for awarding compensation to the patra declared suicide cases) has become a bone of contention to the maha-Sarpanch Lambodar and his MP Keyur.

Gangiri, who lost his elder brother to debt-distress suicide, was refused compensation it being voted as apatra (ineligible) verdict by the suicide committee, so he decides to take the matter in his own hands to bring justice to the dead by working within the committee and forcing by truth to provide righteous compensation to several widows. But on this path of truth, he manages to make higher powers his enemy for whom more number of farmer suicides means the inefficiency of MP Keyur who has inherited power from his father, and they plan to eliminate him from the committee by any means possible.

The story then evolves into a power struggle indirectly between MP Keyur and farmer Gangiri. The latter is helped by journalist Nazar Prabhakar and Dr. Videhi Jaichand indirectly in his quest for justice and fairness to farmers.

Will Keyur be able to dominate his honest enemies and save his face? Will Gangiri succeed in his mission and what prices will he have to pay on the way?! To observe the fight between power politics and a farmer’s righteous mission, one should read this novel by Kota Neelima who has done a wonderful work here.


Likes:

Power struggle distributed throughout the book

Values and honour of a farmer and true description of his true pathetic condition in our country

The author justified the theme putting up a nice climax resulting in the unprecedented but perfect ending of the book.


Dislikes:

The complexity of the language throughout made it difficult for me to understand any single paragraph in one go. I had to read and re-read literally every second paragraph on an average which distracted the flow of the story. Hence it took me a long time to read (coupled with my illness in between), that’s why this late review.

I couldn’t fathom the need to, first, start a romantic tension between Nazar and Videhi, and secondly, it being left in a cliffhanger with no use/end in the story.


Overall, I would say it's a very nice socio-political 'faction' novel, an engaging read.


My rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 



P.S. -- This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

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