I was looking forward to reading this, yet I was terrified of reading it. Turns out I shouldn't have been.
This single tells the story of Baby, a youngI was looking forward to reading this, yet I was terrified of reading it. Turns out I shouldn't have been.
This single tells the story of Baby, a young woman who was allegedly raped by 13 men in an Indian village as punishment for... "loving the wrong man," according to the description. I would add, loving a married man? Loving a Muslim? Having sex without being married? Being "rich" in a village of fairly poor people?
Turns out, the story isn't quite so black and white. Is it ever, really?
This short book gets into a bunch of issues - issues about women's standing in India, issues of culture and comparison within Indian society, and - something I wasn't expecting - the big issue of being a tribal community in a country where you're seen as less than, where your rights are being trampled by people and companies trying to exploit the land and the people.
No, definitely not black and white.
Unfortunately, I thought the story a bit lacking. I didn't connect with Baby, the main character, or any of the other people, on an emotional level. It felt like a removed, intellectual distance that the author kept from everyone. I think I can understand why she maybe tried to do that - you first want to take Baby's side right away (as did tons of national and international media) but as you learn more you realize it's not so simple. And maybe Faleiro tried to keep that distance because she didn't want to side with any particular person, to show those shades of grey. But for me, this made the writing feel a little flat.
Nonetheless, I'm glad to have read this story and will be looking to learn more, not just about this incident, but about the broader issues that were raised in this (too short!) single....more
**spoiler alert** I added this to my reading list ages ago and since I read Akhil Sharma's Family Life recently, I thought I might as well read this.**spoiler alert** I added this to my reading list ages ago and since I read Akhil Sharma's Family Life recently, I thought I might as well read this. And now that I have, I almost wish I hadn't.
The story is disturbing, to say the least. The main character is an aging corrupt politician (corrupt politician - isn't that redundant in India?) who repeatedly committed a horrific crime (rape) against his daughter years ago for which he was never really punished. And the book goes into detail on that. To say it was difficult to read is an understatement.
Somehow, as the story progresses, the author almost makes you feel bad for this monster, which is incredible. You catch yourself feeling these feelings, and then think, what the hell am I thinking?!
The book also weaves in some major political events in India's history, which is an interesting angle. As bad as that is in itself, I guess it gives you a break from the above-mentioned sordid details.
The effects of the man's crime on his daughter and then his granddaughter and the ripple effects this has just made this even more depressing. Especially in light of India's culture of "what will people say" and the effects on women. Ugh, this book is a tough read and not for the faint of heart.
(I'm struggling with the rating because I think the book was well-written but the story itself...)...more