Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Book Review: Rumble in a Village

[Book review of ‘Rumble in a Village’ by Jean Drèze and Luc Leruth]
Jean Dreze is person I deeply admire, so when I saw his name on a work of fiction with an eye-catching cover, I had to pick it up. I am glad I did. Though the book is written by two academicians, and the themes are heavy, the book is an absolute delight to read.

Imagine a village in the middle of nowhere, with a railway tracks cutting past the landscape. A village demarcated along rigid caste lines. The people knowing their place, yet, striving to improve their lives with limited or no opportunities.

Into this village comes an NRI, accompanied with vague memories of a trip to the village when he was three, and the notes which his father intended to covert into a work of non-fiction, but didn't. With no knowledge of how caste works, he bumbles through, thinking he is making a difference, but actually being played along by virtually everyone.

The author(s) employ self deprecating humour to make a point about casteism, misogyny and corruption. The book is full of harsh truths, but put forward in a way that neither preaches nor accuses.

Palampur can be any village, anywhere. The cast of characters too.

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