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3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  412 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
'Coolie' portrays the adventures of Munoo, a young boy forced to leave his hill village to fend for himself and discover the world.
Paperback, 282 pages
Published June 24th 1993 by Penguin Classics (first published 1936)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,167)
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May 22, 2012 Ram rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indian-fiction
For book lovers from India, there are some few writers who are must read for them considering the kind of role the writers have played in Indian writing over the decades and also considering the quality of their writings. Rabindranath Tagore, R.K. Narayan, Kamala Markandeya are a few of the names that comes to my mind. Add to that the name of Mulk Raj Anand, one of the finest writers of India. His book "Coolie" is a seminal book in Indian literature. Coolie depicts the life of an young boy who d ...more
Shabbeer Hassan
Mar 17, 2011 Shabbeer Hassan rated it it was amazing
Munnoo, the memorable character of Coolie remains even if you have finished the book..A book which shows the face of the "OTHER" India during the pre-partition period.... Also, it correctly shows the actual caste system of India, not the Rajputs, Vaishyas, Shudras, Brahmans But RICH & POOR....

With enough money one can make even the most hard nosed orthodox people their friends....The book also shows the Britishers during the tumultuous time of pre-partition...How communism & trade unioni
Aju Krishnan
Jul 20, 2015 Aju Krishnan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-100, i-own-a-copy
After completing this book, I placed Mulk Raj Anand among my favorite Indian writers in English. Coolie invokes a myriad of emotions, the greatest among them being humility and thankfulness for all the luxuries that god has bestowed upon us. For Munoo the future was bleak and uncertain, and education a far cry. Just at the cusp of boyhood, Munoo was sent away to work as a servant in the house of a rich baboo. He admires the baboo's children who go to school. He wonders at the 'Memsahibs' and 'Ma ...more
Nov 24, 2014 Rita rated it really liked it
Mulk Raj Anand, Peshawar 1905-2004 !


This book "written 1935 in London; revised 1971 in Sukhrali, Gurgaon, Haryana, India", published 1972.
[Another of his novels is "Untouchable", publ. 1935.]

Munoo is an orphan [cared for by an aunt who resents doing it] in a hill-country village KANGRA in "the north" i.e. Punjab. His parents died of grief after landlord seized their land, leaving them destitute.

We follow his journeys and different forms of horrifying "coolie" employment for on
Jun 27, 2014 Nikhil rated it liked it
lover of your sister - translitterations galore - could be forgiven considering Mr Anand lived in an era where English was still considered a province of the WASP Anglo-Saxon and the vernacular pride hadn't evolved beyond the general pride resulting from the freedom struggle.

In today's environs much of the nativity would have found it's way into the text directly, instead of the seemingly apologetic trans-litteration that litters this book. Detracts to an extent from the prose.

Nor is the makeup
Vishwanath Praveen
Mar 26, 2014 Vishwanath Praveen rated it it was amazing
‘Coolie’ would be an obvious choice for readers who wish to understand how life in pre-independent India was for people who occupied the bottom most rung of the society.
This is the second Mulk Raj Anand novel I read, the first being Untouchable.
It tells the story of a 14year old village boy Munoo and the plight he suffers at the hands of the ‘dignified’ members of the society who make up the upper crust.
Munoo is orphaned after the death of his mother and is brought up by his uncle. No sooner t
Oct 25, 2012 Shelley rated it it was amazing
An educational and interesting look into colonial India of the 1930s. Fascinating to see what has changed in today's India, and most importantly what has not. Recommended.
Dec 10, 2014 Medha rated it really liked it
Anand paints a world in the colours of Hardy or Chekov. The book is a tragedy but is far from being stark, dark. Rather, it is filled with colour and emotion, seen through a child's fresh eyes, where the emerging world is filled with wonder and promise. Munoo, the young coolie boy, and all his well wishers who he meets along the way, live a life of need. Theirs is a world of exploitation, of societal cruelties, and structural rigidities that keep them mired in their circumstances. And in that wo ...more
Jan 11, 2013 Nabeel rated it it was amazing
To a reader who, as a member of the South Asian diaspora, has never had more than an amorphous grasp of the region's history, Mulk Raj Anand vividly animates the world that existed therein during the twilight of the British Raj. "Coolie", an extraordinary tale of a common village orphan, illuminates with touching clarity the state of affairs in pre-partition India that is all too often fogged over with romanticist nostalgia.
The reader sees this world through the simple eyes of Munoo, the tragic
May 05, 2015 Śrī rated it it was amazing
In this book, Mulk Raj Anand establishes himself as the Indian Charles Dickens. In a very Dickensian plot, a young man is ripped from the stable, clean and yet smothering world of rural poverty and deposited in the volatile, grimy and explosive world of urban poverty. Munnoo, or Coolie, as he comes to be known never gets his deliverance like either Oliver Twist or Pip, however. That is the difference between economical inequities created by industrialisation and those created by colonialism.
Shinuna Said
Sep 04, 2012 Shinuna Said rated it liked it
This novel effectively depicts the sufferings of labourers through the story of Munoo, the protagonist. Munoo, an orphan brought up by his uncle begins the journey of his life from his village and going through many places say various stages of miseries, dies of consumption in the end. The portrayal is so realistic that it gives one a true picture of the conditions the workers live in - the depiction of nauseating surroundings, dirty lanes, labourers relieving in the open fields etc. The story o ...more
Suraj B
Nov 24, 2014 Suraj B rated it really liked it
After reading RK Narayan's novel, I became accustomed to the slow paced books. Yet another book of the similar type, Coolie, was also from my college library. Mulk Raj Anand is simply superb in creating such an image where it sometimes makes us hate life. I was literally living with the characters when I read the book. Their sufferings, and the arrogance of those with money all were not just written, but painted. Yeah, this one's a good book.

Verdict: A nice book to read, though you might wanna c
Feb 09, 2014 Akshay rated it it was amazing
Coolie portrays the adventures of a young sixteen year old boy Munoo. Munoo, at best, is like a universal figure who represents a passion not only for India but also the human race. The story of Coolie is a fight for basic survival that shines through with a raw sense of urgency while also highlighting the grim fate of the masses in a pre-partition India. Mulk Raj Anand's picture of Munoo is real, comprehensive and subtle.
Dec 15, 2013 Bob rated it it was amazing
As you probably know, Anand was an Indian who lived for roughly the entire 20th century and gained an international reputation for his bleakly realist social commentary novels written in English. This is his second of five novels.
Although his usual biography states that he was moved to write by the inequities of the Indian caste system (his first novel was called Untouchable), it strikes me that his communist engagement in the 30s and 40s causes him at times to more broadly characterize the pro
Jen S.
May 15, 2016 Jen S. rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing portrayal of poverty in India (1932) which opened my sheltered little 20 year-old eyes. Can't remember if there was a happy ending.... I'm sure everything turns out fine.
Malavika Nair
Dec 27, 2015 Malavika Nair rated it really liked it
Read this book as a part of an assignment.
It was one of the painful books ever to read.
But at the same time, it was one of those books which genuinely urges you to do something.
Oct 03, 2015 Div rated it really liked it
Lovely story of early india. Tells you about the life of a poor person how he lives, survives and dies. Good book if you want to relive old english moments
Feb 21, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it
tragic but lovely. highly recommended for any interested in Indonesia or colonial era literature. a very nice translation too, reads like original language.
Oct 25, 2012 Adam rated it liked it
Shelves: india, subcontinent
This is not a 'feel-good' read, but it is fascinating and well-written.

It is a heart-rending description of a young boy's suffering as he moves from one place to another in India in search of work and shelter.

It may be an unfair criticism but when I read this book as well as Untouchable, I felt that the Indian author, who had received his university education in England, was writing for an English audience rather than for Indians. There is, of course, nothing wrong with this, but I felt that I w
Liju Thomas
Jun 16, 2012 Vinod rated it it was amazing
of all Indian authors, i love Mulk Raj Anand the best. it shows the pre-independence India from an Indian perspective. most british authors revile or pity at being Indian. but Mulk does it the other way around. he sees the Indian way of life and its hardships and its boundaries. a sad ending to this book. a story of the still continuing saga of child labor, exploitation and abuse in India and its lack of security for the poor.
Aug 12, 2012 Phani rated it liked it
There's not much here that we don't already know, and one does feel every now and then that the author manipulates the characters/plot to elicit more sympathy from the reader. Some of the characters seemed almost Bollywood-ish (Ratan, for instance). One can see that Anand was moved by the poverty he saw around him, which is why he wrote this book. All in all, a good read, but nothing exceptional.
Apr 17, 2014 Rakesh rated it really liked it
vivid and touching
Aug 15, 2007 Jenni rated it really liked it
Anand hung out with the cool kids of Bloomsbury for some years before snubbing that scene. Interestingly, he consciously imitated Joyce's Portrait and envisioned himself as a Stephen/Joyce figure forging the consciousness of India in the smithy of his soul. Untouchable and Coolie are terrific reads and offer very interesting commentary on Indian gender/caste constructions.
creates a memorable character Munoo, through him we look into the plight of the poor in the British times. The novel also gives a glimpse into the lives of the Britishers, different from the stereotypical images we have been receiving through Bollywood movies all the time.
Ankush Agrawal
Dec 31, 2013 Ankush Agrawal rated it really liked it
An interesting read. Initially started to read for the college assignment purpose, but then was intrigued by the young character's trials and harships and his hard life. What a vivid picture potrayed by the author. Didnt know India did have such gems of a writer...
Aug 29, 2012 Neha rated it it was ok
Couldn't finish reading this book.
After Mulk Raj Anand's 'Untouchable', I had very high expectations set with this one. Read half way through but couldn't push my self further.
The book isn't unworthy but keeps a pace too slow to have me reading.
Sep 30, 2014 Anjuli rated it really liked it
Dickensian-style story of the urban poor, set in the early 20th century. A few memorable characters, slow-moving plot, but Anand's command of the English language is what ultimately won me over.
Moumita Sarcar
Dec 13, 2014 Moumita Sarcar rated it liked it
superfluous.. didnt get the essence at many points...
Dibya Pal
May 14, 2013 Dibya Pal rated it really liked it
Probably the first Indian author to write about the dark spots of the Indian society during the pre-independence staqge in such a elaborate and fancied manner.
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Mulk Raj Anand was an Indian writer in English, notable for his depiction of the lives of the poorer castes in traditional Indian society. One of the pioneers of Indo-Anglian fiction, he, together with R. K. Narayan, Ahmad Ali and Raja Rao, was one of the first India-based writers in English to gain an international readership. Anand is admired for his novels and short stories, which have acquired ...more
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