Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: Foreign by Sonora Jha

On the jacket:

The book is a fictionalized account of the farmers suicides in contemporary India. It is set in Seattle and in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, with the two worlds tumbling together in a web of suicide, politics and betrayal. 

In a village in India, a forsaken man is about to kill himself in quiet despair. A million miles away, Katya Misra is celebrating a perfect evening in her fine, academic life in Seattle . . . until she is informed that her teenage son Kabir has run away to India in search of a father he has never met. Contemptuous of her homeland and determined to bring Kabir back where he belongs, Katya must follow her son into the home of a suicidal farmer, in a village where, every eight hours, a man kills himself. Here, as Kabirs father inspires his son with his selfless social work, Katya finds an ally in the farmers wife Gayatribai, who saves Kabirs life by damaging her own, and in return asks for Katyas help in keeping her husband alive in the suicide epidemic that has gripped this treacherously changing nation. 

Whipped up in a world of violent protest rallies, mass weddings, inglorious suicides, and a love that demands to be rekindled, Katya must learn whose life can be saved and whose she should just let go. 


This book is special to me. I am a Nagpur girl. Being in the city doesn't affect a life of a Vidharbhaiite technically, but if anyone other than the farmers of the drought hit areas, we are the ones who are majorly affected. The fight for separate statehood is mainly so that we can use our own resources, for our own people instead of giving a cushy life to rest of Maharashtra.

Ok, emotions aside, Foreign was a touching read. A book that started with an elite social gathering in Seattle is soon transitioned to India and then to the heart of Vidarbha, a region famous of farmer suicides. In her quest to find her runaway son Kabir, Katya Misra finds herself in the midst of suicides, rallies and face to face with Kabir's father, whom he had run away from home to find. 

A gripping story, not only about human relations, but also a fair mirror to what is actually happening and why, how can these suicides be prevented and how. How much have these suicides affected out society, how deep does the desperation which makes men kill themselves go and how helpless the rest of us are. Reading Foreign will not only give you a good read, it will change your perspective about quite a few facts around us.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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