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Untouchable

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  1,517 ratings  ·  109 reviews
Bakha is a young man, proud and even attractive, yet none the less he is an outcast in India's caste system: an Untouchable. In deceptively simple prose this groundbreaking novel describes a day in the life of Bakha, sweeper and toilet-cleaner, as he searches for a meaning to the tragic existence he has been born into - and comes to an unexpected conclusion. Mulk Raj Anand...more
Paperback, 157 pages
Published 1986 by Penguin Books (first published 1935)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra Xtra Crunchy
This was some tedious reading. It's only a short book and the first two-thirds isn't too bad - a day in the life of a downtrodden Untouchable latrine cleaner and his rat-eating family. The preaching of the last third rather spoiled it though.

Part of the problem of the Untouchable caste is that it isn't actually a problem at all for anyone who isn't Untouchable, in fact it's desirable to have them. Since they, the pariahs of society, do all the work that no one else wants to do, and at minimum wa...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Forget about Batman, Superman or the Hulk. They are all just comic book super heroes. This is the real deal. Enlarge the picture in the book's cover so you can get a good look at him, the photo courtesy of the India Office Library and Records. A flesh and blood Untouchable with god-given superhuman powers. Here are some amazing things he is capable of:

1. He can part a throng of people with just the words: "Posh, posh, sweeper coming!" as he comes carrying his broom (cf. Moses with his stick, par...more
Lisa
Just 157 pages and one day in the life of eighteen year old Bakha, a "sweeper" in charge of cleaning three rows of public latrines on the edge of his town. He is an Untouchable.

Bakha starts his day working "earnestly, quickly, without loss of effort". He dreams of the day he will be able to do the work of his father, the head of all the local sweepers and who is responsible for cleaning the streets of the town and the temple courtyard. His wish is fulfilled that very day when his father becomes...more
Mike Clinton
Written in 1935, this novel is told from the perspective of Bakha, a sweeper, of the lowest level of the outcaste Untouchables. It has a message that gets presented through a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of Bakha as a complex human being with limits and aspirations. He clearly strives to attain a life beyond his station, adopting Western dress from the second-hand and discarded motley of British military clothing that he wears and even his style of sleeping. Still, the attitudes and behaviors...more
Neha
I have been reading this book for past one year and finished it only today. Reading in between the time when I finished other books and was getting a new one, I had to recall whatever happened till the pages I had read. so we can conclude that this book didn't leave much of an impression on my mind or memory. anyways I read it because I wanted to read a book by Mulk raj Anand and moreover the topic seemed quite a different one than the usual ones. It talks about a day in the life of an untouchab...more
Suhasini Srihari
Mulk Raj Anand has used simple english to ask an effective question through the narration of a story. The text probes the readers to question as who were the actual tyrants, the British or our very own people who were socalled 'upper-caste'? The protagonist, Baku encounters various injustuce done to him and he is the depiction of the whole race of the then called 'lower-caste' people. It was a nice read overall!
Lauren
I would highly recommend this book but I cannot seem to give it more than 3 stars.

I think that has to do with the GR rating system and the words that pop up. I didn't really like it, I certainly didn't love it. It was not just okay and my sentiments are not that I didn't like it. I can't even say that I liked it. More or less I found the subject matter to be interesting but not really enjoyable. The concept of "untouchables" has bothered me for quite some time and reading a novel in which one i...more
Kelly
Feb 19, 2009 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people curious about the Indian caste system
Slice-of-life vignettes can be good or bad, mostly depending on how much you get drawn into the character. In Untouchable, we see one day's worth of one 18-year-old Untouchable's experiences in Gandhi-era India. And I at least got totally drawn in. Bakha is a sweeper--someone who cleans latrines among other things--and considered the lowest of the low, where even the other Untouchables shun him. For the most part he accepts this as a part of life. After all, that's how he was raised. But several...more
Radhika
I have written a book review on this book.
Can find it on my blog- silentlywescream.blogspot.com
Hope that helps :)
Book Wormy
Untouchable Mulk Raj Anand
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Penguin Paperback 157 pages

Untouchable is the story of a day in the life of Bakha a member of the Hindu caste of Untouchables. Bakha is a sweeper which means he cleans the streets and latrines so that the "clean" Hindus do not have to worry about there own waste.

Because touching Bakha would make a Hindu "polluted" he must announce his presence at all times by calling out sweeper coming, so that the other castes can avoid him.

As a caste Untouchables are not a...more
Kayla
Untouchable is one of those 'day in the life' books, in this case it's the day in the life of an 18 year old sweeper named Bahka living in colonial India.

Being a sweeper, Bahka's status in society is the lowest of the low - he actually has to call out and warn people of his approach, lest they accidentally touch him and pollute themselves. Throughout the day, Bahka is subjected to endless abuse and humiliation, but a life of conditioning makes it difficult for him to truly express and act on his...more
Ratna
This book is a rare glimpse into the Hindu society of India before 1950's. A graphic tale of a social evil that will forever prick the collective conscience of our country. The story of an eventful day in the life of Bakha; an untouchable, someone living at the fringes of the Hindu society.

Bakha is a young man with zest for life, yet struggling as a latrine cleaner. A profession that places him among the lower most rung of Hindu hierarchy. On this eventful day everything that could go wrong goes...more
Radhika
A thought provoking wonderful prose by Mr Mulk Raj Anand. Untouchability is so deep rooted in the Indian society that we can still see the effects of it on the fringes of modern India. On the face of it everyone acts that they do not discriminate, but where do we go with a century of psyche and conditioned mind that lived in the society where caste system is still rampant.Change is coming but slowly and that is what I liked about this book, the author was able to bring out the subject and show h...more
Niradhip
Untouchability was a serious concern during pre independence. Mulk Raj Anad has portrayed the hitches of casteism through Bakha’s eyes. The idea was good but somehow I felt the overall story writing is bit monotonous. Even though the intent is good and character formation justify the crisis neatly but the story is not self driven and it’s required lots of effort from reader side to go through and complete the story. I also feel Gandhi’s touch at the later part of the story can be handled in a be...more
Sundeep Supertramp


The original review of this book is posted on my blog...

If you want to read the original review, click here...


Foreword:

In my spree of reading more Indian books than international authors, I have read a quite a wide array of books. Most of them were love stories. IITians. IIMs. Contemporary college romances. Some chic-lits. Then came intense stories and authors, like Amitav Ghosh, R. K. Narayan. With Narayan came Mulk Raj Anand.

A line in the author's introduction in this book goes like this,

"......more
Sankrutyayan
After being connected to R.K.Narayan's portrayal of simple,naive characters of South India. It was not so hard to droop a little in the hierarchy of Indian class system. The characters were so alive as all the swear words and proverbs were directly translated into English. Narrator took so small of a gesture and molded it into a significant thing to contemplate about. He wants us to notice how there will be considerable amount of good and bad in every person. This has been justified when Bakha l...more
Diksha
Aug 01, 2014 Diksha rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy old Indian literature
Recommended to Diksha by: a book salesman with a wandering eye
It is not exactly a pleasure for me to review books on a public platform. However, I feel inclined to share my experience reading Mulk Raj Anand's 'Untouchable' with the future and current readers of the book.

I shall begin by saying that the subject of untouchability is very close to my heart. Being a descendant of those previously called 'untouchables', I bought this book and expected it to strike some chords deep within my psyche. That did not happen, sadly.

Maybe it's because of my low IQ bu...more
John
A day in the life of an Untouchable. The writing comes across as a bit stilted, but ultimately Anand seems to think that Ghandi and modernization might help rectify the issues of the underclass in India. In all kind of a strange little book, I'm interested to see what my incredibly smart prof has to say.
Shubham Dabas
I'll remember this book for the insights it gave me into the problem of untouchablity. Also for the great pity that Anand evokes for his protagonist. Otherwise, purely as a novel, I didn't like it much. The book itself was short but still it seemed stretched, the descriptions were, many times, tardy and often Anand's over use of adjectives was irritating. The story ran for just one day in the life of Bakha the sweeper. All those incidents, of great importance in Bakha's life, being compressed in...more
Ajay Gautam
There are two aspects of this book.
One is the story of a day in the life of the main character Bakha, the young, Untouchable boy. The story is presented in a good way (if not the best way). Backha goes through the day juggling through different emotions. Sad, Angry, Happy, Depressed and still goes on with his life. I salute him :)

Other aspect is the Social System of Untouchability presented in the book.
And as surprising as it may sound, it is still in practice after 81 years of the first print o...more
Nurul
the reality is always harsh to believe
Mandeep Kalra
A short and generally well-written book that took me much longer to finish than it should have. Mulk Raj Anand traces the travails of Bakha a bhangi (sweeper) over the course of a day. Subjected to constant abuse, humiliation, and injustice, only the hardest of readers will not sympathize with the plight of Bakha and his fellow untouchables.

Anand gets much right with this social protest novel but he sacrifices character development and some of the literary value of his debut work in order to fu...more
Simon Wood
THE LOWEST OF THE LOW. . .

Mulk Raj Anands 1935 novel sympatheticaly portrays a day in the life of Bakha who as a sweeper and latrine-cleaner is on the lowest rung of Indias caste system. Written simply and directly it captures the many humiliations, trials and tribulations that Bakha and his father, younger brother and sister experience at the hands of higher caste Hindus.

It's a relatively short but enlightening read and vividly creates the atmosphere of the times and place for this reader at a...more
Nan

Explanation of Rating: It clearly tells us about Hindu Scoeity. The language that the author uses is rich and vividly transports the reader to the sadness and dirt surrounding the life of an untouchable, through Bkaka, the main character's life. Reading this book is very intereting and exciting.

Recommendation: This book is highly recommended. It engages the reader from the beginning to the end. Also, it contains the harrowing subject which is about untouchables life. It is well written with a bi...more
Karyl
Before reading this book, I had known something about the caste system in India, and I had known there was a caste called the Untouchables. But that was about the extent of my knowledge. Anand brings this caste to vivid life in this book, where we see Bahka, an 18-year-old boy destined to spend his life cleaning latrines (in the era before flush toilets) and sweeping the streets. As if that weren't bad enough, any time he touches someone, even accidentally, he "pollutes" that person, who is then...more
Nafiza
I read this for this Post-Colonial English Lit class that I am taking and to be honest, I don't know where this book is when it comes to the topic. Anyway, I'll be writing my essay on this book; I haven't yet decided what particular topic it is that I want to focus on specifically but there were a lot of things that were glaringly wrong with this book. And some others that were right. First, the hindi interspersed with the English confused me. I'm familiar with the language and I insist, that th...more
sampath krishna
To me, this book represents the beginning of creative writing by Indian authors in english. I still have to read english literature by Indian authors predating this work.

Mulk Raj Anand, very lucidly and vividly, describes a day in the life of an untouchable sweeper named Bakha. The myriad of emotions experienced by Bakha in a day is cleverly used to give a window into the lives of untouchables in pre-independent Indian villages. The author deftly describes how the innocent curiosity and confiden...more
Rachel Rueckert
This book started off really well, but for whatever reason as it went along it seemed more and more unreal to me. In Mulk Raj Anand’s defense, talking about the caste system and untouchability in India is no easy subject to write about so that a Western audience could comprehend, but I think he just missed the mark. I cannot imagine this world because I feel like it does not exist (in the book, I have no doubt that it did and may still exist in present India or that these instances he describes...more
Manish Kumar
Well, the book is quite good as far as the narrative of the pain through which the outcastes suffer is concerned. As novel was published in 1935 so it best depicts the situations of that time. The protagonist Bakha is shown to be ready to revolt against uppercaste people but his father and other people discourage him rather encouraging. The priest tormenting Bakha, the lady who threw the bread at him from fourth floor, Mrs. Hutchinson who scolds him with the words like Bhangis and Chamar and the...more
Sunny in Wonderland
This LIST book was kind of boring. No. It was A LOT boring. The story didn't open the world of India to me; it didn't open the world of Hinduism to me; it didn't even really open the main character's world to me. There must have been some giant cultural difference that prevented me from enjoying (or even understanding, in some instances) what all the drama was.

So, Bakha touches some guy, but he's not allowed, because he's of the lowest caste in his society. Then the touched guy yells at him and...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Cover for Untouchable (9780141956947) 3 12 Jul 07, 2013 06:59PM  
Indian Readers: Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand [Starting from March '2013] 35 79 Apr 07, 2013 11:19PM  
so far so good 2 23 Sep 21, 2008 08:35PM  
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An Indian writer in English known for his depiction of the lives of the poorer castes in Indian society.
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