"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..."
Ever since he can remember, Animal has gone on all fours, his back twisted beyond repair by the catastrophic events of "that night" when a burning fog of poison smoke from the local factory blazed out over the town of Khaufpur, and the Apocalypse visited his slums. Now just turned seventeen and well schooled in street work, he lives by his wits, spending his days jamisponding (spying) on town officials and looking after the elderly nun who raised him, Ma Franci. His nights are spent fantasizing about Nisha, the girlfriend of the local resistance leader, and wondering what it must be like to get laid.
When Elli Barber, a young American doctor, arrives in Khaufpur to open a free clinic for the still suffering townsfolk -- only to find herself struggling to convince them that she isn't there to do the dirty work of the Kampani -- Animal gets caught up in a web of intrigues, scams, and plots with the unabashed aim of turning events to his own advantage.
Profane, piercingly honest, and scathingly funny, Animal's People illuminates a dark world shot through with flashes of joy and lunacy. A stunning tale of an unforgettable character, it is an unflinching look at what it means to be human: the wounds that never heal and a spirit that will not be quenched.
Animal's greatest gift, and the reason he is so sympathetic as a character, is his sense of humor. From the Western perspective, his life is awful: he must walk on all fours, he must beg for food, he believes no one will love him, and he has no opportunity to better himself. To Animal, though, his plight is merely run of the mill; in fact, it's perhaps better than most because his condition has made him special. He can run like an animal, and he has the rare ability to understand the souls of other people, something he attributes to the poison .... Sinha's tale glistens with hope and humanity. Animal's language and story float off the page until we believe that we are in fact listening to his humorous voice rather than reading it. We are left at the end, as we watch Animal saunter away, with a sense of great insight, that we have seen how the 'weak can inherit the earth' and make us all strong. (Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
Sinha balances big issues with an intimate depiction of life at its bleakest.
Starred Review. [A]n antic, ribald, and searing tale of greed and heroism. Sinha's daring farce asks what it means to be human, rekindles compassion for the still uncompensated victims of the real-life catastrophe, and celebrates the resiliency of love and goodness in the poorest and most poisoned of places.
The plight of the world's powerless has seldom been conveyed more powerfully, while Animal is destined to be one of fiction's immortals.
New Statesman (UK) - Lucy Beresfoford
From the arresting opening line of Indra Sinha's vivid second novel, the voice of Animal, the narrator, leaps out to grab you by the throat. Bawdy, irreverent and smart...Animal's People -- part coming-of-age Bildungsroman, part vicious critique of corporate terrorism -- is a bold and punchy tale.
The Observer (UK) - Soumya Bhattacharya
Compelling, heart-wrenching and laced with redemptive hope...it explores the really big issues - justice, equality, the nature of humanity - and does not once flinch from what it discovers."
The Independent - Boyd Tonkin
An extraordinary achievement. Sinha fends off all condescension with the salty and scabrous urchin's voice -- a virtuoso compound of Irvine Welsh and Salman Rushdie. Yet, for all its surface profanity, Animal's People mingles sentiment with its savagery.... [S]hould spur a new generation to find out about the foulest act of corporate homicide in modern history.
The Guardian (UK) - Kamila Shamsie
Sinha's writing is a blade gleaming in the moonlight. And the novel, for all its pain, is a work of profound humanity.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kim My favorite of the year This might be my favorite book of 2008. I found it to be extremely original and very entertaining. The protagonist, Animal, is one of those fictional characters you wish you knew in real life and are reluctant to leave behind once completing... Read More
is the capital of Madhya Pradesh
in central India. The violent
impact of the tremendous
chemical leak described in
Animal's People is based on
the real life chemical leak in
Bhopal in 1984, which is
considered to be one of the
world's worst industrial
On the morning of December 3,
1984 a holding tank of stored
MIC (methyl isocyanate) at the
Union Carbide plant in Bhopal,
overheated and released over 40
tonnes of the noxious gas. The
gas, which is heavier than air,
spread throughout the city,
poisoning thousands and
infiltrating the water supply.
3,000 died within the first day
of the leak and, according to
the Bhopal Medical Appeal,
around 500,000 people were...
On the night of December 3, 1984, Anjali waits for her husband to pick her up at the train station in Bhopal, India. In an instant, her world changes forever. Her anger at his being late turns to horror when a catastrophic gas leak poisons the city air. Anjali miraculously survives. Her marriage does not.
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...