Book Review- Shoes of the Dead By Kota Neelima

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Author- Kota Neelima
Title- Shoes of the dead
Publisher- Rupa
ISBN- 978-81-291-2396-1
Price- Rs. 495.00
Genre- Political Fiction
This time I had the honour to review an uncommon genre thanks to Blogadda. It’s a topic that has been touched upon by many a thinkers and political columnists in India but it has seldom been depicted so vividly in the form of a work of fiction.
About the Author-
Kota Neelima works as Political Editor with the Sunday Guardian and is a research fellow for South Asia Studies at The Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washingto, DC. She has previously written and published “Riverstones” and “Death of a Moneylender”.
About the cover-
The cover draws a sharp contrast between the two poles of developing India where the book title separates the world of famine-struck terrain to the world of power corridors in the nation’s capital. The sepia tone lends certain seriousness to the theme which is also undeniably grim and haunting for the mind.
The Book Title
Shoes of the Dead refers to the footsteps of the dead farmers who have committed suicides due to the dismal state of affairs in India; which need to be followed by those who seek justice. It’s, as the introduction suggests, an unequal battle with a definite advantage toward those who are in power. The title does justice to the book’s theme and lends a certain weight to the issue.
The Main Characters-
Sudhakar Bhadra- The “dead”. He is the farmer who commits suicide after successive crop failures and the burden of debt. The district committee of Mityala refuses compensation to the widow and thus begins the tale of injustice and fight against it.
Gangiri- Sudhakar’s brother who fights for justice to his brother’s widow. He is the protagonist of the story.
Keyur Kashinath- The antagonist of the Democratic Party. First time Member of Parliament and son of Vaishnav Kashinath- the party’s general secretary- An arrogant and fierce politician.
The Plot, Language and Myriad Other Aspects-
The tone of the book is highly empathetic and it seems to have a heart of its own. The language is simple and sentences are short. The book will cater to an audience which seeks to bring justice to those stuck at the claws of bureaucracy and politics in a timeless warp. It takes sharp digs at the system and its ability to corrupt the power hungry. The amount of research that has gone into the book is highly evident and at places, it does seem like you’re reading a real story straight out of a weekly news magazine. The events are believable and do bear resemblance to reality. The protagonist has his tryst with the fragility of morality in the course of story and it sometimes stops being a Mahabharata between good and evil but becomes a game of one-upmanship. This sort of humane rendition to the characters and the storyline makes the narration effective and easy to understand. The dilemmas associated with pride and poverty are very well-sketched. The dilemmas faced by committees and the discomfort faced by people are also nicely done. You can get the frustration associated with the inner workings of a government appointed committee and feel helpless and motivated at the same time. These emotions which are the quintessential components of any political novel are highlighted and well handled.
All in all, a good read. I’ll rate it 3.5 out of 5. The language could have been more technical and political but I guess that would have narrowed its reader base. Understandable compromise on the part of the author.

Watch “Book Review- Shoes of the dead” on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwI_pvS7EEM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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