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Goat Days

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  10,684 ratings  ·  865 reviews
Najeeb’s dearest wish is to work in the Gulf and earn enough money to send back home. He achieves his dream only to be propelled by a series of incidents, grim and absurd, into a slave-like existence herding goats in the middle of the Saudi desert. Memories of the lush, verdant landscape of his village and of his loving family haunt Najeeb whose only solace is the companio ...more
Paperback, 1st Edition, 255 pages
Published June 20th 2012 by Penguin Books (first published August 2008)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  10,684 ratings  ·  865 reviews

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Nandakishore Varma
Way back in the 1990's, I remember reading a story by Ursula K. LeGuin: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. It disturbed me greatly at that time. It was about this perfect country, Omelas, where there was no sorrow or disease, and everybody was happy. There was only one catch: Omelas was paying for this happiness through the misery of one child, kept locked in a cellar and treated cruelly perpetually. This was the pact that Omelas had made with the powers that be: the misery of one human being i ...more
Arun Divakar
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Sitting in the air conditioned lounge of a coffee shop, sipping on freshly brewed coffee and mumbling that life is becoming dull to a good looking woman was I. That too was a way of fishing for her sympathy wherein she patted my arm and said Talk to me about it why don't you ? as she intertwined her fingers with mine. I came back home after assurances of meeting each other again later. Knowing that the day has been a long one, I took a shower alternating between hot and cold water. Plopped dow ...more
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‎Aadujeevitham is not a cliche story of gulf's about the pain and sufferings of protagonist najeeb and also of hope and faith in God ..really heart touching story..a must read for all those who complains about their silly problems and belittle other people's sufferings..The style of narration was really good too :) ...more
Anand Neelakantan

This is one of the best work of fiction I have ever read in Malayalam. A land mark book. We can feel the pain and emotions that the author would have undergone while writing this book. The book is as raw as life could be and as beautiful as life should be. Being an author myself, I could associate with the afterword in which the author describes the process of writing. Writing itself is a tough task, writing so beautifully, so lyrically is nearly impossible. Benyamin has achieved the near imposs
Indrani Sen
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india
A supremely good read. Recommend very highly.

This is the story of Najeeb, a not-so-well-to-do youth from Kerala who goes to Gulf to make money and ends up suffering unimaginable horrors. This is based on a true story and what a story it is. Everything from how little Najeeb dreams of, how his friends in Mumbai help him, how not knowing the language made him scared in the airport is supremely well described. Once the part where his slavery starts, the story scales to a different level. How Najeeb
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those planning to emigrate :P
Was a stunning read, made more authentic by the malayalam language which I was reading after more than a decade. I was totally immersed in the story, to the extent that I felt a discontent even while leading a highly covetable affluent life, according to the standards of the protagonist. I dreamt weird, scary dreams, felt low, and had a low grade headache throughout this period. Every time I ate or drank, or just relaxed, I felt I was committing a terrible crime.
This is the story of Najeeb, a lo
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Gorab by: Em*bedded-in-books*
Original Malayalam title: ആടുജീവിതം (Aadujeevitham) - winner of 2009 Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award.

Though its said to be fiction, but actually is inspired by (many?) true lives of Malayalis. They say - "The grass is always greener on the other side" and our protagonist Najeeb leaves behind his family and expecting wife, for finding greener grass (big moolahs) in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

The beginning of the book describes how desperately he wants to end up in a jail in Saudi, and rest of the s
Mark Staniforth
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it
'Goat Days' is an unusual novel: probably quite unlike anything else you'll read this year. A relatively rare translation from Malayalam by Joseph Koyipally, it is, as its title suggests, a book in which goats feature prominently. So prominently, in fact, that by the end you'll know more than you ever thought you'd know, and ever wanted to know, about the frisky beasts. You'll know how to feed them, how to castrate them, how to dodge a buck if it turns nasty (see previous operation). You'll know ...more
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dsc-south-asian
Benyamin's Goat Days,translated from Malayalam (Aatujeevitham), is based on a real story. And so, it is far more haunting than any fictional account you could read of despair and hope (loosely comparable to Thousand splendid suns?)

Set in 1990s when the 'Gulf moham' was prevalent in Kerala, the book describes the story of Najeeb Mohammad who leaves his pregnant wife and mom to work in the gulf. Destiny has other plans and he finds himself pushed into a life of slavery rearing goats in a vast dese
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five_star_reads
I can't believe what I just finished reading. The Author's note have left me all broken. Yes, I am heartbroken. The story might have a satisfactory ending but it still breaks my heart to read what I have just read.

It's a very beautiful story. It has been written very well. The plot is set right, the explanations are apt. The story is crisp yet detailed in nature. This is one of the books that I couldn't stop reading even if life demanded so. I have been reading this one so obsessively, I can't e
What a heartbreakingly brilliant story of both, hope and hopelessness.

The book constantly reminds us of the many privileges we take for granted. It is really unfair how the cost and quality of life are so vastly different for so many people. A fairly short book that will stay with me for a long time.

In the end, I am left so conflicted. Should this book leave me with gnawing hatred for all those who treat human lives lesser than what it should be? Should I be angry at how the world is not even
Shaonli Nath
Jan 29, 2013 rated it liked it
A captivating account of a man named Najeeb who is stuck in the middle of nowhere along with goats and a typically savage arab master.

It is a story we have all been hearing for for years, sordid grim tales of Indians wedged in slavery-like situations in the badlands of Arabia.

This isn't your multidimensional novel with complex sub-plots. Characters are what they are. Even the goats. But the rustic plainness is what makes the book distinct.
Goat days is about a simple man's ordeal, the strange rel
Praveen Palakkazhi
The Middle Eastern Arab states have always been a begrudging moral conundrum for me. Having grown up there and later on worked there for a while, I do appreciate the comforts and safety its relatively chaos free world provides. However, beneath the gleaming concrete odes to mankind’s progress lies an unmistakable and inescapable truth – the region is seemingly bound to a false sense of security and freedom. In truth, most people have no real powers or rights in the law of the land. That is contr ...more
Mansoodh Msd
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lockdown-2020
“നാം അനുഭവിക്കാത്ത ജീവിതങ്ങളെല്ലാം നമുക്ക് വെറും കെട്ടുകഥകള്‍ മാത്രമാണ്.”

Translation: The life which we have not experienced are all just fictional stories to us.

I was moved by the above quote from the book. The book is so beautifully written and is filled with so many beautiful lines.

This fictional story revolves around a Keralite named Najeeb who gets an opportunity to come to a Middle Eastern country in the early 1990s. With the dreams of providing his then-pregnant wife and future kids wi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Originally published at

Yes there are goats in this story.

But first, we meet Najeeb, and he and a friend are trying their very best to get arrested. Life in prison is far better to what he has suffered through recently.

What could be worse than prison?

It is the 1990s. Najeeb is from Kerala, a state in India. He’s intrigued by all the stories of those working in the Gulf and thinks it a quick easy way to make some fast cash and take care of his pregnant wife
Meera Nair
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When Najeeb leaves his home in Kerala for a better job in Saudi, his expectations are that of the glamour and comfort associated with the Gulf. But ill-fated circumstances crumble his rosy perception of mankind, as he is held captive on a desert, forced to work as a goatherd.

I am usually quite intimidated by award-winning books. But this one has permanently left a mark on my soul.

It is the gut-wrenching story about the inhuman treatment of migrant workers. Through a flashback narrative, we a
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian, malayalam
Brilliant!!! Full 5 stars for the beautiful writing.. Somehow the book did not depress me as expected in fact it elevated me... Am a fan of Benyamin now...
Fleme Varkey
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Goat days is a heart-warming account of a Malyali muslim stuck in the Gulf. I can relate to this story as I have had heard many horror stories being recounted of men who have gone to SaudiArabia only with dreams of gold and VCR. What they do there is secondary.. they may be a janitor for all you know, yet when they came back, they had to show proof of their good wealth and standing. So many homes have been destroyed and buikt because of this mass exodus to the Gulf at one time.
Najeeb's characte
Rohit Enghakat
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This a very depressing book. There are thousands of people lured by the dream of working in the Gulf countries and earning money. While a handful of them make it, there are scores who are duped and cheated by their sponsors who make them work for a pittance and exploit them. One such story is that of Najeeb Muhammad, who is dreaming of a cushy job in Saudi Arabia and sending back the money so that he can pay off his loans and earn enough to provide for his family. However, he gets duped and is m ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone !
Recommended to ivy♡ by: my father:>
you do know that it's next to impossible for me to properly review a book that i really love, right ? mostly it's because i feel like putting my love for it down in words is an injustice to this beautiful story.

I've tried too many times to review this but i can't find the words to express how much i loved this story, how much this made me feel. definitely on my list of all - time favourites. what makes this story even more heartbreaking is that it's based on real - life experiences. i honestly c
Noor Nazar
the way Najeeb surrenders to the will of Allah was truly motivating and inspiring... there is a verse in Quran which says: Inna maghal usri yusra which means "Surely there is ease after hardship"... if this story is true, then its the best proof for this verse that there is definitely ease after hardship... bcoz each time the story twisted and turned in unexpected ways...this story wud be an inspiring one for many going through different difficulties in life that there would be something good to ...more
Astha Bhardwaj
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: story-books
What an tittle.......Every one who saw it in my hand would what kind of books its was.i liked the books but at some point did not understand it .BOOK is very confusing starts with a jail then the man who slaved the poor man comes (memory flash back) then the story but in the ending the man was rescued but acc. to the starting he ran away and found the way to the jail.kind of confusing if any one understands the plot please tell meee..........................

Margaret Lesh
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Smitha Murthy
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Smitha by: Swati
Many years ago, I remember my friend talking to me about 'Goat Days'. I remember the conversation, but I didn't remember to read the book. When I got around to it last week, my reading was interrupted by travel, and there were times I wished I could just go curl up with this book with no interruptions. This book deserved that sort of undivided time.

Once, while climbing Jordan's highest mountain, we wandered into Saudi Arabia. My cellphone switched from Jordan's reception to Saudi Arabia. There
Rameez Rahman
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: malayalam
Ever happened to you that you picked up a book to read in your bed and spent the first few hours of the night reading it in one go and spending the rest thinking about it? That's what this book did to me.

One of the most hard hitting books in Malayalam that I have read recently. I haven't read any other works of Benyamin (yet) and so I dont know if its his style of writing, but what stood out was the simplicity so befitting the narrator in the language being used for telling the story, and all th
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended by a dear friend and going by his past record, I had no hesitation to pick it up even though it is fiction. It describes the story of a Malayali man who goes to the Middle East in search of greener pastures, and in doing so, beautifully brings out the pathos of life itself. I later discovered that it is inspired by a real life story. the language is lucid. Translated from the original Malayalam, some of the expressions bear resemblance to the original language. In that ...more
Deepthi Terenz
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: malayalam
An Arab country was always a mirage for an average common Malayalee.but all my illusions were shattered after reading "aatujeevitham".its the story of survival,narrated beautifully and satirically.the story made me thinking about myself in Najeeb's place.Then realised I will never survive ...and never will have undying faith in him.A new story from a new author...Outstanding..

Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tender, heart-rending tale of a Malayali who, like countless others from his state, goes to The Gulf in order to earn quick money, and the events that follow thereafter.

Note: This book is actually written by Malayali author Benyamin. Joseph Koyippally is the translator.
Ina Cawl
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
one of the best Indian novels that deals with the modern day slavery which happens to Indian expats in Arab Gulf nations
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Goodreads Librari...: Multiple copies 3 23 May 10, 2017 03:25AM  
Indian Readers: GGG -> Goat Days by Benyamin - Gorab and Girish 67 37 Jul 26, 2016 10:40PM  
aadu jeevitham 8 132 Jul 13, 2014 05:01AM  

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Benyamin (born 1971, Benny Daniel) is an Indian novelist and short story writer in Malayalam language from Nhettur, Kulanada, Pattanamtitta district of the south Indian state of Kerala. He is residing in the Kingdom of Bahrain since 1992, from the age of twenty, and his works appear regularly on Malayalam publications in Kerala.

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“നാം അനുഭവിക്കാത്ത ജീവിതങ്ങളെല്ലാം നമുക്ക് വെറും കെട്ടുകഥകള്‍ മാത്രമാണ്.” 29 likes
“പണക്കാരുടെ വണ്ടിയിലും വല്ലപ്പോഴും അള്ളാഹു സഞ്ചരിക്കുമെന്ന് എനിക്കന്നേരം മനസ്സിലായി.” 5 likes
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