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Summary and book reviews of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

by Deepa Anappara

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara X
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
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  • Published:
    Feb 2020, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat
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About this Book

Book Summary

In this transporting debut novel, three friends venture into the most dangerous corners of a sprawling Indian city to find their missing classmate.

Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn't let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of tin-roofed homes where nine-year-old Jai lives with his family. From his doorway, he can spot the glittering lights of the city's fancy high-rises, and though his mother works as a maid in one, to him they seem a thousand miles away. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line plunges readers deep into this neighborhood to trace the unfolding of a tragedy through the eyes of a child as he has his first perilous collisions with an unjust and complicated wider world.

Jai drools outside sweet shops, watches too many reality police shows, and considers himself to be smarter than his friends Pari (though she gets the best grades) and Faiz (though Faiz has an actual job). When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. He asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants, and together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit.

But what begins as a game turns sinister as other children start disappearing from their neighborhood. Jai, Pari, and Faiz have to confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force, and rumors of soul-snatching djinns. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will never be the same again.

Drawing on real incidents and a spate of disappearances in metropolitan India, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is extraordinarily moving, flawlessly imagined, and a triumph of suspense. It captures the fierce warmth, resilience, and bravery that can emerge in times of trouble and carries the reader headlong into a community that, once encountered, is impossible to forget.

I LOOK AT OUR HOUSE WITH—

—upside-down eyes and count five holes in our tin roof. There might be more, but I can't see them because the black smog outside has wiped the stars off the sky. I picture a djinn crouching down on the roof, his eye turning like a key in a lock as he watches us through a hole, waiting for Ma and Papa and Runu-Didi to fall asleep so that he can draw out my soul. Djinns aren't real, but if they were, they would only steal children because we have the most delicious souls.

My elbows wobble on the bed, so I lean my legs against the wall. Runu-Didi stops counting the seconds I have been topsy-turvy and says, "Arrey, Jai, I'm right here and still you're cheating-cheating. You have no shame, kya?" Her voice is high and jumpy because she's too happy that I can't stay upside down for as long as she can.

Didi and I are having a headstand contest but it's not a fair one. The yoga classes at our school are for students in Standard Six and above, and Runu-...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Anappara's India lives and breathes on the page. Every tin-roofed hut, abandoned alleyway, and overcrowded bazaar fizzes with a richness of detail that could only be rooted in the author's intimate knowledge of her setting. Anappara earns her right to eschew any happy endings. In an India where as many as 180 children go missing every day, with the vast majority of cases remaining unsolved, the enthralling Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is unafraid to lay bare the country's grim realities and entreats us to stop turning a blind eye...continued

Full Review Members Only (798 words).

(Reviewed by Dean Muscat).

Media Reviews

Washington Post
Moving and unpredictable...By story’s end, Jai has grown more hesitant, humbled by tragedy and evils beyond his once-childish imaginings. Even so, his remarkable voice retains a stubborn lightness, a will to believe in the possibility of deliverance in this fallen world.

New York Times
Rich with easy joy, Anappara’s writing announces the arrival of a literary supernova...We marvel at those threads, so vibrantly woven by Anappara, as Jai tracks down the missing children’s families and friends, only to discover that even those closest to them have little understanding of their true selves. This is the power of this novel, how it keeps us grounded — not in the flats of the hi-fi dwellers but in something closer to India’s heart, which she locates in the minds of children with bony shoulders and dirty feet.

Booklist
A model of verisimilitude...[Jai] comes to life on the page to live on in readers' memories.

Library Journal
[Anappara's] bright, propulsive prose...only accentuates the seriousness of her subject: the disappearance of children from villages in India, a real-life issue given intimate treatment here.

Publishers Weekly
The prose perfectly captures all the characters' youthful voices, complete with some Hindi and Urdu terms, whose meanings, if not immediately obvious, become clear with repetition. Anappara's complex and moving tale showcases a strong talent.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
There's an almost Harry Potter-ish vibe to the relationship among the three intrepid kids, and Jai's voice is irresistible: funny, vivid, smart, and yet always believably a child's point of view...Engaging characters, bright wit, and compelling storytelling make a tale that's bleak at its core and profoundly moving.

Author Blurb Anne Enright, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Gathering
Storytelling at its best—not just sympathetic, vivid, and beautifully detailed, but completely assured and deft...We care about these characters from the first page and our concern for them is richly repaid.

Author Blurb Etaf Rum, New York Times bestselling author of A Woman Is No Man
A stunningly original tale...I stayed up late every night until I finished, reluctant to part from Deepa Anappara's heart-stealing characters.

Author Blurb Christie Watson, bestselling author of The Language of Kindness
The children at the heart of this story will stay with you long after you turn the last page...A wonderful debut.

Reader Reviews

Victoria

Poignant story of Indian children
I received this as an ARC from Random House and Netgalley. I'm not sure I would call the book enjoyable, because it ends on a dark note and I wished there had been a different ending. But the author has done a masterful job meeting her stated ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Why Hindu Gods Have Multiple Arms

While investigating a series of missing children taken from an unnamed Indian slum, Jai and his friends Pari and Faiz, the central protagonists in Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, come across many pictures and iconography depicting Hindu gods. Here are some brief insights into the mythology surrounding a handful of these deities.

Painting of Vishnu with four arms and avatarsVishnu is one of the Hindu triumvirate alongside Brahma and Shiva. Known as the Trimūrti, these three gods are responsible for the creation, upkeep and destruction of the world. Vishnu is the protector of the universe and is said to restore the balance between good and evil. In Vaishnaism, the largest Hindu sect, he is considered to be the greatest god. Vishnu is commonly depicted in religious icons in ...

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