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Saturday 8 June 2013

Shoes of the Dead by Kota Neelima

"None of us can match the powers we challenge. It is an unequal fight, but we have the dead on our side."

We have often heard about crop failures, how it affects the farmers and how so many of them, think it better to end their life rather than live a life burdened by debt. Such news had made the head lines some time back, when the suicide toll of farmers in the Vidharva region of Maharashtra had reached alarmingly high numbers. To write a novel on such a sensitive topic is a tremendous task, because the subject is not just social, it is political as well. The author, Kota Neelima who works as Political Editor with a prominent newspaper has done full justice to the topic in her latest book- Shoes of the Dead.

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.

Very often when one read a political novel based on real incidents and when the subject is as heavy as this one, the readers often feel bogged down. But, that is not the case with this book. As Gangiri fights for a cause, the readers heart goes out for him. There is a ray of hope. We hope against hope, that maybe things will change for the better at some point.

"There were many such farmers, different names, same fate. As Gangiri heard the stories, he once again found himself wanting something that was denied to him, something he could not have. Justice."

If you have a keen interest in the politics you can even deduce who is who for some characters in the novel. The book is unsettling at times, at times you might feel you are having quite an easy life and that can fill you with guilt. It takes a great deal to write a book on such a sensitive issue with such aplomb. The writing style is crisp and lucid. The characters are real and they will stay with you for a long time. The book will keep you interested till the very end.

Read this book to understand how politics plays with the life of the farmers when they are alive and even after they are dead.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Reviews Program. for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books! Thank you Blog adda for giving me the opportunity.

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