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Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

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Three friends venture into the most dangerous corners of a sprawling Indian city to find their missing classmate. Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of Three friends venture into the most dangerous corners of a sprawling Indian city to find their missing classmate. Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of tin-roofed homes where nine-year-old Jai lives with his family. From his doorway, he can spot the glittering lights of the city’s fancy high-rises, and though his mother works as a maid in one, to him they seem a thousand miles away. Jai drools outside sweet shops, watches too many reality police shows, and considers himself to be smarter than his friends Pari (though she gets the best grades) and Faiz (though Faiz has an actual job). When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. He asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants, and together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit. But what begins as a game turns sinister as other children start disappearing from their neighborhood. Jai, Pari, and Faiz have to confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force, and rumors of soul-snatching djinns. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will never be the same again. Drawing on real incidents and a spate of disappearances in metropolitan India. Take a look at the Reading Guide for Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.


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Three friends venture into the most dangerous corners of a sprawling Indian city to find their missing classmate. Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of Three friends venture into the most dangerous corners of a sprawling Indian city to find their missing classmate. Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of tin-roofed homes where nine-year-old Jai lives with his family. From his doorway, he can spot the glittering lights of the city’s fancy high-rises, and though his mother works as a maid in one, to him they seem a thousand miles away. Jai drools outside sweet shops, watches too many reality police shows, and considers himself to be smarter than his friends Pari (though she gets the best grades) and Faiz (though Faiz has an actual job). When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. He asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants, and together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit. But what begins as a game turns sinister as other children start disappearing from their neighborhood. Jai, Pari, and Faiz have to confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force, and rumors of soul-snatching djinns. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will never be the same again. Drawing on real incidents and a spate of disappearances in metropolitan India. Take a look at the Reading Guide for Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.

30 review for Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Journalist and author Deepa Anappara draws our attention to the horrors and tragedy of the terrifyingly enormous numbers of children that go missing in India, a matter that is largely met by indifference in mainstream Indian society. The impoverished slums and community are depicted with an astonishing vibrancy as the people go about their daily lives and the challenges they face, lying within sight of the wealthy and powerful to whom the poor are invisible and a blight on their landscape. Annap Journalist and author Deepa Anappara draws our attention to the horrors and tragedy of the terrifyingly enormous numbers of children that go missing in India, a matter that is largely met by indifference in mainstream Indian society. The impoverished slums and community are depicted with an astonishing vibrancy as the people go about their daily lives and the challenges they face, lying within sight of the wealthy and powerful to whom the poor are invisible and a blight on their landscape. Annappara provides a pertinent social, political, cultural and economic commentary on modern India, with its huge wealth inequalities, class, sexism, crime, police corruption, abuse, exploitation, and religious tensions and divisions. Interspersed within the narrative are the folklore and superstitions that abound in the community, such as the Djinns. Jai is a poor young 9 year old child, who is obsessed with TV crime drama shows, so when his class mate Bahadur goes missing, he wants to emulate those shows by investigating. He is assisted by the brighter and smarter girl, Pari and his friend, Faiz. In a narrative that brings danger and goes around in circles as more children disappear, their investigation comes far too close to home for Jai on a case where the grim realities of contemporary India bring a loss of innocence and underline an absence of all of childhood should be, safe, secure and protected. This is a harrowing and desperately heartbreaking read of a national tragedy where there are rarely any happy endings. A brilliant novel that highlights such an important and urgent issue in India. Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    I really enjoyed the atmosphere created. The environment reveals a distinct separation of classes and the varied lives according to social status and monetary value. Police negligence, religious violence, and educational values are exposed through this fictional tale set in India. The language was great, and I enjoyed the story being told through the eyes of nine-year-old Jai. “The man scratches at his feathery beard. “Kids around here disappear all the time,” he says. “One day they’ll have t I really enjoyed the atmosphere created. The environment reveals a distinct separation of classes and the varied lives according to social status and monetary value. Police negligence, religious violence, and educational values are exposed through this fictional tale set in India. The language was great, and I enjoyed the story being told through the eyes of nine-year-old Jai. “The man scratches at his feathery beard. “Kids around here disappear all the time,” he says. “One day they’ll have too much glue and decide to try their luck somewhere else. Another day they’ll get hit by a rubbish truck and end up in a hospital. Some other morning, they’ll be picked up by the police and sent to a juvenile home. We don’t make a fuss about anybody vanishing.”” The story itself became repetitive. After one child disappeared, Jai and Pari investigated and played detective, and I was into it. However, then the same thing just kept happening. Another would disappear, Jai and Pari would investigate, turn up empty handed and go home, then another disappear, etc. So, the progress wasn’t as engaging as I would have preferred. For me, the most powerful chapters were “This Story Will Save Your Life” which were mostly stories of the djinns and other beliefs regarding wandering children. My favorite scene was when Jai and Pari went to the railway station. Because of the title and blurb, I have to admit that I thought a big portion of this novel would take place around the railway. However, there was only one big scene there in the beginning. I wasn’t too pleased with the ending, but I respect the underlying messages delivered to the reader through that conclusion. I think the themes embedded in this story are significantly valuable. However, the progression of the story was uniform. Overall, I liked the story because of the important leitmotifs. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for this copy. Opinions are my own. More on railway children: Railway Children in India What happens to "railway" children

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marchpane

    Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line combines humour and warmth with tragedy and deprivation; innocence and optimism with bigotry and corruption. Despite the ‘djinn patrol’ of the title, there’s very little magic here. Set in a basti, or Indian slum, where children have vanished and the police are disinclined to help, the novel follows 9-year-old Jai and his friends as they play detective to try and solve the case. It’s an incredible window on daily life in such a place – the precarity of knowing Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line combines humour and warmth with tragedy and deprivation; innocence and optimism with bigotry and corruption. Despite the ‘djinn patrol’ of the title, there’s very little magic here. Set in a basti, or Indian slum, where children have vanished and the police are disinclined to help, the novel follows 9-year-old Jai and his friends as they play detective to try and solve the case. It’s an incredible window on daily life in such a place – the precarity of knowing the authorities could bulldoze your home at any moment, but also the strong family and community bonds that form there. The sights sounds and smells of the basti are vividly evoked as Jai & investigate, and this immersive depiction is really well-balanced to be neither sensationalised nor sugar-coated. The child characters are so endearing and naïve that I was a little unprepared for how dark this novel becomes by the end (I’ve since learned that the story is based on real events). The heart-wrenching conclusion really brings home some hard truths - about how poverty renders people invisible, and the way vulnerable communities are so often failed by the systems meant to protect them.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Thank you, Random House, for the gifted book. In Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, journalist and author, Deepa Anappara, has the reader firmly on the ground in an Indian basti, with its sights, sounds, and smells of the yummy food wafting through the neighborhood, and all of it is through the eyes of the lovable child narrator, Jai. The book draws attention to the large number of children who go missing in India daily. Did you know close to 200 children go missing there each day? Jai takes us alon Thank you, Random House, for the gifted book. In Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, journalist and author, Deepa Anappara, has the reader firmly on the ground in an Indian basti, with its sights, sounds, and smells of the yummy food wafting through the neighborhood, and all of it is through the eyes of the lovable child narrator, Jai. The book draws attention to the large number of children who go missing in India daily. Did you know close to 200 children go missing there each day? Jai takes us along with him to school, among his small group of friends, within his home in the basti with his loving parents, and chachis who keep an eye on him, too, and in the local bazaar. One by one, children in the basti disappear, and everyone becomes more unsettled, rightfully so, seeking police help with little avail. The author’s insightful note at the end is a must-read for why she wrote the book and its importance to her. This book was longlisted for the Women’s Prize, and it is most definitely worthy. Seamlessly written, with a powerful and critical message, I thank the author for this most thoughtful and thought-provoking book. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This is a tragic story that underlines the shocking fact that an estimated 180 children go missing in India each day. It describes the religious, social, and financial divides problematic in modern India. The story immersed me in the vibrantly described sights, food and fragrances of its slum setting. Here the people mostly love their children and care for the people in their neighbourhood despite the poverty, drudgery, and the squalor in which they live. The trauma of missing children began to This is a tragic story that underlines the shocking fact that an estimated 180 children go missing in India each day. It describes the religious, social, and financial divides problematic in modern India. The story immersed me in the vibrantly described sights, food and fragrances of its slum setting. Here the people mostly love their children and care for the people in their neighbourhood despite the poverty, drudgery, and the squalor in which they live. The trauma of missing children began to raise their suspicions, and anger at their corrupt and inefficient police force. Nine-year-old Jai, a Hindu schoolboy is obsessed with detective and police shows on TV. He decides to become a child detective and enlists two of his schoolmates to serve as his assistants after a boy at his school, Bahadur, goes missing. Pari is smarter but is given a subordinate role because she is a girl. His friend Faiz, is. Moslem boy. He misses a lot of school as he needs to work to help his parents. Their investigation starts amidst complete indifference by the local police. The police make no effort to look for Bahadur, claiming he ran away. The investigations by the three amateur detectives takes them into very dangerous parts of the city, such as the busy marketplace, the filthy local dump, the bordello district, and the train station at the end of the Blue Line. Rising above their dirty, ramshackle slum neighbourhood can be seen the highrise apartments and penthouses of the wealthy. As they interview families, shopkeepers, friends and suspects, they find no evidence of what happened to their missing schoolmate. Jai and Faiz suspect he may have been snatched by an evil Jinn (spirit), but the less superstitious Pari tries to dissuade them of this belief. Soon other children go missing. Omvir, a friend of Bahadur, vanishes. Next, a 16-year-old girl, Aanchal, disappears. The police insist that Omvir has simply run away and refuse any search effort. Aanchal was a good girl employed as a beautician while studying English in hopes of becoming a call centre worker. The police, with no valid evidence, said she was a brothel worker in her 20s and had run away with a much older Moslem lover. When next, a 4-year-old girl disappears, not only are the parents of the missing distraught, but the entire neighbourhood is frantic and afraid for the safety of the children. Since these five children were all Hindus, the suspicion and blame falls on local Moslems, putting innocent Moslem lives are in danger. When people complain about the inefficiency and disinterest of the police, they are threatened that their homes will be bulldozed for stirring up trouble. The case becomes more difficult when two Moslem children, a brother and sister, are next to disappear. Jai is becoming discouraged with his Djinn Patrol’s lack of progress, and then to add to the tragic crime wave, his older sister, a star athlete, is next to disappear. Will Jai and his two friends manage to find any of the missing youngsters or any evidence of what happened to them? Who is committing these atrocious crimes? What is the motivation? Will his sister be found in time? What will be the aftermath for their families and neighbours? Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for this poignant and heartfelt story based on alarming facts.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Deepa Anappara and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review. Delving into to the darker side of life in India, Deepa Anappara presents readers with this most impactful mystery. With close to two hundred children disappearing off Indian streets daily, this story about a missing child leaves the reader feeling a little less than comfortable. Jai may only be First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Deepa Anappara and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review. Delving into to the darker side of life in India, Deepa Anappara presents readers with this most impactful mystery. With close to two hundred children disappearing off Indian streets daily, this story about a missing child leaves the reader feeling a little less than comfortable. Jai may only be nine years old, but he seems to know just how life ought to be. When a boy goes missing in his school, Jai works with some of his friends to locate the young boy. Well-versed on police procedurals from his time watching television, Jai is sure hat he can lead a brigade just like on the screen. He’ll come across a great deal fo poverty, with people who will do and sell anything for their next meal, and travel late into the night to the far reaches of the city, all in hopes of capturing a killer, just like those on television. Refusing to back down, Jai encounters a number of stumbling blocks along the way, including incompetent police officers, members of gangs, and even the mysterious djinn, a spirit with a penchant for children. Forgetting the danger that creeps up regularly Jai will not return without answers, all in a place where another missing child is swept into the rubbish bin and forgotten. Jai refuses to ignore his intuition, even as those around him write him off as foolish. An interesting take with a strong backstory, surely of interest to some readers. That being said, I could not effectively connect with the story and it left me needing more to sustain my attention. I am always fascinated to learn about new countries and cultures, particularly when the reader hails from that part of the world. Deepa Anappara not only spent her early life in India, but has written extensively about child disappearances and poverty on the streets. She brings much to the table in this piece, using a number of essential young characters to give the story a different perspective. The use of Jai and his friends helps to enrich the story for a reader who may know little about life on the streets or the horrible statistics about missing children. As this young boy looks for his classmate, he is fuelled by the sense that he, too, can locate someone in short order, as though he were closing a case before the credits scroll, like his favourite television personalities. The cast of characters seems to work well, different from one another and always trying to provide additional flavouring when it is useful. The story itself was well crafted and paces itself relatively well. I suppose I found myself lost in the shuffle from character depictions and how things developed. There is a strong story and the narrative keeps the reader intrigued, but I could not find a place on which to latch myself. Like many of the faceless people who see and hear nothing, I felt as though the essential aspects of the book passed me by. To see that others enjoyed it is pleasing, though I am surely going to sit in the minority outside the tent and say that this book was not one I found stellar. Kudos, Madam Anappara, for shedding some light on the horrors of missing children. I trust many will find the pieces I could not in this novel and give you the praise you seek. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Fourth read from the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction longlist. Most enjoyable for the richness of its sensory details. Cravings for samosas and tikka masala inevitably follow. It's easy to forget Deepa Anappara's protagonist is only nine years old, despite the occasional references to poop. The narrative structure is formulaic and the final chapters feel rushed, yet Anappara succeeds at piercing the smog-choked alleys of marginalized communities to reveal disturbing realities in present day India. Fourth read from the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction longlist. Most enjoyable for the richness of its sensory details. Cravings for samosas and tikka masala inevitably follow. It's easy to forget Deepa Anappara's protagonist is only nine years old, despite the occasional references to poop. The narrative structure is formulaic and the final chapters feel rushed, yet Anappara succeeds at piercing the smog-choked alleys of marginalized communities to reveal disturbing realities in present day India. Verdict: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line offers a robust sensory experience in lieu of suspense. One of them whispered Mental's real name, which was a secret known only to them, and a shadow stirred in the lane. The boys thought it was a cat or a flying fox, though there was a charge in the air, the metallic taste of electricity on their tongues, the flicker of a rainbow-coloured bolt of light, gone so soon they could have only imagined it. - The sky roiled blackish-blue above tangled cables and dusty street lamps. The market was mostly accustomed to the distant, steady thrum of the highway. His nose learnt to catch the weakest of smells from hours before - marigold garlands, sliced papayas served with a pinch of chaat powder on top, puris fried in oil - to guide his steps to the right or left in dark corners.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    “Do you know there are people who will make you their slaves? You’ll be locked up in the bathroom and let out only to clean the house. Or you’ll be taken across the border to Nepal and forced to make bricks in kilns where you won’t be able to breathe. Or you’ll be sold to criminal gangs that force children to snatch mobiles and wallets.” Hundreds of children go missing in India and some do not survive. The author of the book wanted to draw attention to these facts, but she also wanted to show th “Do you know there are people who will make you their slaves? You’ll be locked up in the bathroom and let out only to clean the house. Or you’ll be taken across the border to Nepal and forced to make bricks in kilns where you won’t be able to breathe. Or you’ll be sold to criminal gangs that force children to snatch mobiles and wallets.” Hundreds of children go missing in India and some do not survive. The author of the book wanted to draw attention to these facts, but she also wanted to show the “resilience, cheerfulness and swagger” of the marginalized children that she had interviewed when she was a journalist. Those characteristics are captured in Jai, the 9 year old amateur detective, and his friends who try to track down why one if their schoolmates has disappeared. And he is not the only one who fails to return home. At least Jai tried to solve the mystery, which is more than can be said for the police, despite the bribes that they received from people who really couldn’t afford to pay them. The mystery and detection part of this book was just ok for me. What I really liked about the book were the incredible details about life in a basti (poor area) of India. The author doesn’t bother to translate for non Indians so it’s like a disorienting immersion in the country - including the homes, jobs, food, schools, pay toilets and smog. For example: “Quarter runs a gang that beats up teachers and rents out fake parents to students when they get into trouble and the headmaster insists on meeting their ma-papas.”, “...he stops at a theka in Bhoot Bazaar to drink a quarter-peg of daru, which is how he got the name Quarter.” and “His nose learned to catch the weakest of smells from hours before – marigold garlands, sliced papayas served with a pinch of chaat powder on top, puris fried in oil — to guide his steps to the right or left in dark corners.” The story is told primarily from Jai’s point of view, and he was a terrific child, but then there are also chapters from the point of view of each of the missing children. So, I liked the descriptions and the voices, but I’m just not that crazy about child detectives. Overall, I found the book both educational and moving. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    [2.8] The strength of this novel is the vivid setting of the Indian basti (slum) and surrounding city that 9-year old Jai navigates. It is written as a light-hearted caper featuring Jai imitating a TV detective to find a missing friend. Until more children go missing and it is clear that there is a serious problem, it feels like a middle-grade novel. I ended up skimming the 2nd half. I'm not sure who the intended audience is - but it isn't me. Thank you to Random House for the ARC.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    Jail lives in a poor slum in India. Children start going missing and he decides to investigate like the detectives do in his favourite TV shows. But Jai is just nine years old. The local police are not interested in finding the children. The depiction of slum life is harrowing. It has also been sensitively written. Sometimes the book is a bit confusing and repetitive. The story is intriguing, funny and heart wrenching. I really liked Jai and his two friends who tried to find the missing children Jail lives in a poor slum in India. Children start going missing and he decides to investigate like the detectives do in his favourite TV shows. But Jai is just nine years old. The local police are not interested in finding the children. The depiction of slum life is harrowing. It has also been sensitively written. Sometimes the book is a bit confusing and repetitive. The story is intriguing, funny and heart wrenching. I really liked Jai and his two friends who tried to find the missing children. The story is tb old from Jai's point of view. The author paints a picture of what life is like living in a slum. I would like to thank NetGalley, Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and the author Deepa Anappara for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Anappara’s excellent debut novel is written from the POVs of children about children. As an Indian journalist, Anappara covered the deeply disturbing tragedy of children disappearing at the rate of nearly 180 per day. She felt that the personal stories of these children were getting lost amidst the appalling statistics. Thus, she wrote this novel primarily from the POV of Jai. Nine-year-old Jai lives in a huge Indian basti (slum) in view of the ‘hi-fi’ luxury apartment buildings where his mother Anappara’s excellent debut novel is written from the POVs of children about children. As an Indian journalist, Anappara covered the deeply disturbing tragedy of children disappearing at the rate of nearly 180 per day. She felt that the personal stories of these children were getting lost amidst the appalling statistics. Thus, she wrote this novel primarily from the POV of Jai. Nine-year-old Jai lives in a huge Indian basti (slum) in view of the ‘hi-fi’ luxury apartment buildings where his mother works as a housecleaner. He is the main narrator, although the stories of other children are included. He loves the TV program Police Patrol and when one of his classmates disappears, he convinces his friends Pari and Faiz to join him to find Bahadar. This endeavor may begin like a Young Adult mystery, but becomes darker as more children disappear and fear takes hold of the basti. Jai’s initial cheerfulness and swagger dissipate in the face of ever increasing danger. Anappara infuses serious issues troubling her native India in her tale: the huge wealth inequities, the Hindu class system, misogyny, police corruption, and the Hindu-Moslem divisions. Recommend.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hugh

    Longlisted for the Women's Prize 2020 I ordered this book before the Women's Prize shortlist was announced, but then gave priority to the shortlisted books, though this was one of the longlisted books that most interested me. The narrator Jai is a nine year old boy growing up in a basti (slum) on the edge of an unnamed Indian city, near the end of the metro line which gives the book part of its title. Fortunately the djinns and fantasy elements only exist in Jai's head - his reality is a grim one, Longlisted for the Women's Prize 2020 I ordered this book before the Women's Prize shortlist was announced, but then gave priority to the shortlisted books, though this was one of the longlisted books that most interested me. The narrator Jai is a nine year old boy growing up in a basti (slum) on the edge of an unnamed Indian city, near the end of the metro line which gives the book part of its title. Fortunately the djinns and fantasy elements only exist in Jai's head - his reality is a grim one, and gets worse when the children of the basti start disappearing one or two at a time. Inspired by what he has learned from a TV serial called Police Patrol, Jai and his friends Pari and Faiz start to investigate the disappearances. This gives the narration a lively structure that enables Anappara to explore some of the murkier elements of India's divided society - police corruption, exploitation of the poor, child trafficking, organ harvesting, and the exploitation of religious tensions by unscrupulous leaders, without making the book a difficult read. For me, this book was worthy of a place on the shortlist, and that it failed to make it may be seen as an indication of the overall strength of the longlist.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Collin

    Longlisted, and hopefully shortlisted, for the 2020 Women's Prize. The title of this novel may be a little misleading, a little baffling. This wonderful book is about children who are going missing from the basti of Jai, the nine-year-old protagonist. A “basti” refers to a slum village in India. The title of the book refers to the “djinns” who Jai’s detective partner. Faiz, continually insists are the culprits who are taking the missing children, and the purple line is the railway line that the c Longlisted, and hopefully shortlisted, for the 2020 Women's Prize. The title of this novel may be a little misleading, a little baffling. This wonderful book is about children who are going missing from the basti of Jai, the nine-year-old protagonist. A “basti” refers to a slum village in India. The title of the book refers to the “djinns” who Jai’s detective partner. Faiz, continually insists are the culprits who are taking the missing children, and the purple line is the railway line that the children use to get to the bazaar where they start their initial search. “Djinn” in this novel are described as spirits who can possess animals. There are good djinns as well as evil. Pari, the third member of the detective trio, later in the novel even suggests that they start up a tv show called, “Djinn Patrol”. Initially it is only one child who goes missing. Bahadur is a classmate of Jai. Nobody seems to be looking for him, the police certainly don’t seem perturbed. Jai takes it upon himself to become a detective and find Bahadur. Jai’s motive for finding Bahadur is not just about finding Bahadur, who is not a friend, just a fellow classmate. Jai’s mother believes that with all the fuss that Bahadur’s mother is making she will give the corrupt police more reason to bulldoze the basti, which they have already threatened. It takes talent to write from the perspective of a nine-year-old-child and capture the authenticity of a young mind experiencing situations they have never encountered before and Anappara does an incredible job using some beautifully descriptive writing to describe the many unique sounds, smells, and general atmosphere only found in India. The novel also makes your mind boggle. India, the most populous democracy in the world. The clash of religion, the caste system. The seemingly infinite gap between the rich and the poor. The anachronistic feel of India, which at times seems to be a fusion of a third world country and a modern western country with all the perks of modern technology. Anappara captures all of this beautifully. “No one will believe me but I’m one hundred per cent pakka that my nose grows longer when I’m in the bazaar because of its smells, of tea and raw meat and buns and kebabs and rotis. My ears get bigger too, because of the sounds, ladles scraping against pans, butchers’ knives thwacking against chopping boards, rickshaws and scooters honking, and gunfire and bad words booming out of video-games parlours hidden behind grimy curtains.” “In front of us, sparks fall on the ground from a bird’s nest of electric wires hanging over the bazaar”. As the narrative progresses more children go missing and Anappara will devote a chapter to the perspective of the missing child. This is a masterstroke and these chapters are a direct contrast to the innocence and naivety of Jai’s chapters. They enlighten the reader to the reality of what is happening, build suspense, and prepare the reader for the later darker stages of the novel. Racism rears its ugly head when it is realised that none of the children who have gone missing are Muslim, so naturally it is immediately assumed that the culprit must be a Muslim. The clashes between Muslim and Hindu, between India and Pakistan seem to be on a never- ending cycle in the news feeds and perhaps this is a jibe at the interminable confrontations. In these later stages of the novel it darkens more and more as it closes on the ending. I thought that this also was needed and felt it was a natural progression for the narrative. The novel draws attention to the many children who go missing in India. Abducted and sold for slave labour, the sex trade, many stolen from their lives and never seen or heard from by their family again. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and have to commend Anappara for how effortlessly she transported me into the mind of a child, and the slums and bazaars of India. I think we will be hearing a lot more of her name in the future, 4.5 Stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peter Boyle

    This promising debut is narrated by Jai, a nine-year-old boy who lives in an Indian slum with his family. Their one-room house is located beside a rubbish dump, in an area smothered by smog, but they have learned to make the best of their situation. When his classmate Bahadur goes missing, Jai, an enthusiast of TV crime shows, decides to investigate. Enlisting the help of his friends, the hardworking Faiz and clever Pari, the trio try their best to solve the mystery. It becomes clear that a corr This promising debut is narrated by Jai, a nine-year-old boy who lives in an Indian slum with his family. Their one-room house is located beside a rubbish dump, in an area smothered by smog, but they have learned to make the best of their situation. When his classmate Bahadur goes missing, Jai, an enthusiast of TV crime shows, decides to investigate. Enlisting the help of his friends, the hardworking Faiz and clever Pari, the trio try their best to solve the mystery. It becomes clear that a corrupt police force will do nothing to help the people of the shantytowns. So Jai and his pals will have to do it all on their own. But then more children start to go missing and the evidence points to something far more sinister at play. I enjoyed the voice of Jai in this novel - he is an imaginative, mischievous child whose lighthearted innocence is slowly eroded by the malignant events in his neighborhood. The poverty and neglect suffered by the inhabitants of the slums all feels very authentic, and Deepa Anappara uses her journalist's eye for detail to bring an important story to light. However, I have to be honest - I did not find the plot all that compelling until the final quarter, when the disappearances have a more direct impact on the protagonists. That being said, I must commend the bravery of the ending. An encouraging effort from a writer with plenty of talent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    180 children go missing each day in India. Only 1 in 3 will ever be found. These are staggering statistics and the basis of this novel. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is a coming of age novel set in the slums of an Indian city. Young Jai has a vivid imagination and a fascination with cop shows. When one of his classmates goes missing he enlists his two best friends, Pari and Faiz, into "detectivating" with him. As the three set about on their case we are introduced to the sights, sounds, and c 180 children go missing each day in India. Only 1 in 3 will ever be found. These are staggering statistics and the basis of this novel. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is a coming of age novel set in the slums of an Indian city. Young Jai has a vivid imagination and a fascination with cop shows. When one of his classmates goes missing he enlists his two best friends, Pari and Faiz, into "detectivating" with him. As the three set about on their case we are introduced to the sights, sounds, and characters that fill the basti. Although this book shifts narrators to lend a voice to the victims as they go missing, it is told entirely from the perspective of children. Ranging in age from 5 to 16 you get to see how much they are neglected and overlooked, how much responsibility is placed in their small laps and the dangers they face as they try to navigate this world. You also get to see how they pass on knowledge through stories - "Listen. This story may save your life." You're exposed to the corruption of the police force who are more concerned with collecting their hafta than looking for the lost. Police are not there to protect but to be feared. Parents are hesitant to report crimes. The threat of bulldozers demolishing their settlement is very real. You get to see how prejudice colors the investigation. Gender bias leads to adultification of female victims. Girls are mislabeled as older. Their sexual reputation becomes a focal point. Frictions between religious groups are exacerbated as rumor and innuendo lead to vigilante justice while the people wait for the police to respond. Deepa Anappara has spent 11 years working as a journalist in India. Through her interviews with impoverished students she got to see their pluckiness in the face of adversity. She knew that she wanted to tell this story but felt that only a novel would give her the breadth to truly tell this story from their perspective. Special thanks to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group and Deepa Anappara for advanced access to this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Trudie

    This starts out strongly but then becomes very repetitive somewhere along the way. The cover makes it seem like it will be a Boys Own Adventure type deal. It is not.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Great characters and fantastic setting, but repetitive plot.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard

    I read this book due to its longlisting for the 2020 Women’s Prize. The story is narrated in a simple first-person present tense (although one strewn with Hindi slang terms) by a nine-year old: Jai. Jai who lives with his parents and elder sister Runu (Runu-didi) in a basti (temporary turned permanent, slum district) in India. Runu is (to the extent Jai is a fan of real-life crime reenactment shows like “Police Patrol”, his two best friends are Pari (a bright girl) and Faiz (a Muslim, and believe I read this book due to its longlisting for the 2020 Women’s Prize. The story is narrated in a simple first-person present tense (although one strewn with Hindi slang terms) by a nine-year old: Jai. Jai who lives with his parents and elder sister Runu (Runu-didi) in a basti (temporary turned permanent, slum district) in India. Runu is (to the extent Jai is a fan of real-life crime reenactment shows like “Police Patrol”, his two best friends are Pari (a bright girl) and Faiz (a Muslim, and believer in djinns). Runu is (to the limited extent her parent’s permit it) a keen and proficient athlete (relay runner). The narrative starts with one of Jai/Pari/Faiz’s classmates – the stutterer (a son of an abusive drunkard, who escapes home frequently to work at a TV repair stall) Bahadur going missing. Jai sees an opportunity to impose his imaginary life to bring some order to his real one. He proposed to Pari and Faiz that the three of them form a detective trio (with he as head detective). Their first lead is to assume Bahadur (a fan of Bollywood) has escaped to Mumbai and they travel on a train for the first time (Jai having stolen his Ma’s emergency money) from the metro line that ends near their basti to the main railway station (Faiz still convinced that djinn’s were at fault) – hence the book’s title. That part of the book ends with a section told from Bahadur’s viewpoint narrating the events immediately prior to his disappearance (but with not the disappearance itself). And from there (and for the first 250 pages of the 350-page book) we have two issues with the book: - It starts to feel repetitive; the book follows a pattern: another child disappears, the basti reacts, the police are indifferent, Jai and his friends try to investigate (now staying closer to the basti but with very limited success) and we get a section from the viewpoint of the disappeared child (but with no real hints as to what happened to them). - It is very hard not to see the book as a piece of well written children’s fiction – in fact it becomes very reminiscent of books that are read at lower school book groups, like say “The London Eye Mystery” (only with added colour and Hindi). At the same time, stepping back while also acknowledging that a convincing voiced account of a poorly educated, non-school focused 9 year old is by definition going to read like a piece of children’s fiction, there is in fact much more even to this part of the novel. Where the book is strong is in its authenticity (at least as far as I can tell) and in the way that we get a child’s view of a troubled society and a difficult life. The author was an award-winning journalist in India, specialising in the impact of poverty and sectarian violence on children (and their education). Since moving to England and taking a creative writing course, she has I think found in fiction a way to both articulate themes that her journalist bosses were not so interested in her covering; and to draw on the many slum children she interviewed as part of her research to capture something of their voice and spirit, something pure word count and style restrictions prevented her ever conveying in her journalism. And through Jai’s voice, sometimes cheeky and naïve, other times confused and fearful we get a colourful picture of life in the vasti as well as non-polemical account of some of the wider forces at play around it: - The wide network of Chachi and Chacha (“Auntie’s and Uncle’s) that provide an extended family but also a gossip network and surveillance unit on the activities that children would rather keep from their parents – for example a tea-shop job Jai takes to try to pay back his Mum’s money; - The social issues of alcoholism, prostitution, gambling, domestic violence; - The ingrained sexual bias which ranges from career expectations to divisions of home labour to routine harassment - The divide between the slum dwellers and the rich (the “hi-fi”) in their luxury gated tower blocks; - The overcrowded school run more by school gangs than the teachers, but which still serves as a route to advancement via exam and escape from the basti; - The local police force, completely disinterested in solving the disappearances and who see it more as an opportunity to extract greater bribes from the basti (under the threat of forced slum clearance – which only adds to the panic in the basti); - The local basti prachan (boss man) and his network of enforcers and contacts among the authorities - Hindu-Muslim tensions and the Hindu priests and saffron clad followers that stoke it; What really makes the book though is the closing section – where the book takes a much darker twist. Firstly with the disappearances coming even closer to home for Jai and with secondly a likely (although still open ended) resolution of the terrible truth behind the disappearances. And in this section, we fully I think understand the additional themes and motifs that the author is exploring – in particular around story-telling. The book starts with a legend (told by some railway urchins) of a now-dead ragpicker boss whose secret name if invoked leads to supernatural assistance. The second section starts with a legend (told by two beggar-cripples) of the now-dead mother of a murdered child who now offers protection to women and girls. The third with a tale of the assistance of djinns. Each is called “THIS STORY WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE”. Jai we understand also really uses the idea of being a detective as a way to tell himself a story, to impose a narrative on the chaos he experiences in order to give himself agency (or as we see, the illusion of agency). Later, when the full horror of the situation can no longer be denied, he says: “I’ll never watch Police Patrol again. When they act out real stories of people getting snatched or killed, it will feel as if someone is trying to strangle me. I just know it. A murder isn’t a story for me anymore. It’s not a mystery either” Making the book a brutal coming of age story about the harsh realities of the world. “Believe me” the badshah says, “today or tomorrow, every one of us will lose someone close to us, someone we love. The lucky ones are those who can grow old pretending they have some control over their lives, but even they will realise at some point that everything is uncertain, bound to disappear forever. We are just specks of dust in this world, glimmering for a moment in the sunlight, and then disappearing into nothing. You have to learn to make your peace with that.” I also think that the “Police Patrol” quote is an acknowledgment by the author that she has made a story and mystery out of a terrible real-life issue (the frequent disappearance of poor children in India) albeit to bring it to people’s attention. And we also I think see how the author acknowledges the challenges she sometimes faced in doing the same with her journalism. Ma crumples to the ground. The camerawoman bends down so that she can catch Ma’s sadness for the news at nine. Shanti-Chachi runs to his side and puts her hand on Ma’s back before Papa can. “How can you live with yourself?” Shanti-Chachi shouts at the camerawoman “You want us to cry, pull our hair out, beat our chests. What will you get from it, a promotion, a big bonus near Diwali?” The camerawoman stands up “Let’s go to another house” the reporter tells her “Yes, leave, that will be very easy for you to do” Chachi says. “We’re the ones who have to be here today and tomorrow and the day after that. This is our life you’re talking about as if it’s just some story. Do you even understand that?” Overall a much much stronger book that it seems for much of the time you are reading it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Imaginative saga about a nine year old boy, Jai, who lives in a slum in India with his parents and older sister. A rash of mysterious disappearances of children and teens besets his basti (settlement), so Jai and his intrepid friends Pari and Faiz decide to use their TV-honed detective skills to get to the bottom of things. Jai is the narrator, and his voice is endearing - just right for a nine year old boy. The unfortunate part of that fresh and childlike narration is that, for me, it softened Imaginative saga about a nine year old boy, Jai, who lives in a slum in India with his parents and older sister. A rash of mysterious disappearances of children and teens besets his basti (settlement), so Jai and his intrepid friends Pari and Faiz decide to use their TV-honed detective skills to get to the bottom of things. Jai is the narrator, and his voice is endearing - just right for a nine year old boy. The unfortunate part of that fresh and childlike narration is that, for me, it softened the edges of the grim reality Anappara was trying to depict - the real life astonishing number of children that go missing in India due to abductions, runaways and human trafficking. Add to that police indifference and lynch-mob justice, social and caste differences, and Muslim and Hindu conflicts and you have a real toxic stew. Anapparna touches on all of this in her novel but I didn’t feel the visceral gut punch that was warranted. My eyes were definitely opened but oh-so-gently.....this called for toothpicks in the eyeballs. At the end of the day, I enjoyed this book and found it both disturbing and charming in equal measure. Is that not weird????

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carmel Hanes

    An interesting blend of endearing and horrifying, this novel takes us to a slum in India where children begin disappearing. The locals care, but get little help from police, who don't seem to care or take seriously the first disappearances. Nine year old Jai begins to investigate with the help of a couple of friends. Plucky, earnest, and influenced by television detective shows, Jai amuses and entertains the reader with his insistence on proper police procedures and his observations of others, i An interesting blend of endearing and horrifying, this novel takes us to a slum in India where children begin disappearing. The locals care, but get little help from police, who don't seem to care or take seriously the first disappearances. Nine year old Jai begins to investigate with the help of a couple of friends. Plucky, earnest, and influenced by television detective shows, Jai amuses and entertains the reader with his insistence on proper police procedures and his observations of others, including the actual police; seeking a modicum of power in a powerless world. This world of poverty, pollution, and invisibility is contrasted with nearby affluence. It's a world where tradition and class play a role in possibility. Life is difficult enough without the added layer of children going missing. Initially the almost playful tone of Jai's mission softened the reality of the disappearances. It was easy to believe they would turn up at some point. As the novel progresses, the tone darkens and becomes more ominous. Even Jai begins to morph as his once safe neighborhood becomes a place not to be trusted. This story mirrors a horrifying reality in that India has many children who are abducted or disappear. I worried that it would be an unpleasant and heartbreaking novel. To my relief, it was written in such a way as to highlight the caring community surrounding the children--and the sweet naivete of young people--most of the time. Despite the dark underlying theme, and moments that stop your breath, it protected me from becoming overwhelmed with the truth it represents.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Indian debut novelist Deepa Anappara is a refreshingly original and wonderfully unique read. In a sprawling Indian city, three friends venture into the most dangerous corners to find their missing classmate. . . Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Indian debut novelist Deepa Anappara is a refreshingly original and wonderfully unique read. In a sprawling Indian city, three friends venture into the most dangerous corners to find their missing classmate. . . Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of tin-roofed homes where nine-year-old Jai lives with his family. From his doorway, he can spot the glittering lights of the city’s fancy high-rises, and though his mother works as a maid in one, to him they seem a thousand miles away. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line plunges readers deep into this neighborhood to trace the unfolding of a tragedy through the eyes of a child as he has his first perilous collisions with an unjust and complicated wider world. Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. He asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants, and together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit. Drawing on real incidents and a spate of disappearances in metropolitan India, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is extraordinarily moving, flawlessly imagined, and a triumph of suspense. It captures the fierce warmth, resilience, and bravery that can emerge in times of trouble and carries the reader headlong into a community that, once encountered, is impossible to forget. The indifference of the police force regarding those missing broke my heart and highlighted just how deep the corruption runs. This is a witty and resonant debut and an introduction to a writer of enormous talent. Every now and again a book comes along that is impossible to ignore; this is one of them. Many thanks to Vintage for an ARC.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Chaikin

    "The horror of the destitute Indian basti, shown in Behind the Beautiful Forevers, is here captured through the fictional eyes of a 9 yr old trying to investigate as children start going missing. Anappara reported on these neighborhoods, and she captures the contrast between our hopeless view and that of children growing up in the Basti. I thought it was a little slow, and plain, but had some terrific elements, especially the opening section."That was my Litsy review. I'll note that I had just f "The horror of the destitute Indian basti, shown in Behind the Beautiful Forevers, is here captured through the fictional eyes of a 9 yr old trying to investigate as children start going missing. Anappara reported on these neighborhoods, and she captures the contrast between our hopeless view and that of children growing up in the Basti. I thought it was a little slow, and plain, but had some terrific elements, especially the opening section."That was my Litsy review. I'll note that I had just finished an audiobook I had really gotten into (The Dutch House) and was probably going to keep this at distance no matter what. But what happened is I found this on the Women's Prize list and listened to the sample, which is the opening section. I thought that sample was fantastic, effortlessly generating a collage of thought-provoking visuals, with an elegant prose. So I got it from Audible, and then found the rest of the book never equaled that opening section. It definitely has some highlights, like where her narrator steals some money and takes a train to another part of town, or the various short sections with different narration. But her main narrator, 9-yr-old Jay, doesn't speak in elegant prose. He's a kid who plays detective, giving us a tour of his basti and its various characteristics, which has value and interest, but, as I mentioned in the Litsy review, his telling is slow and plain. ----------------------------------------------- 31. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara readers: Indira Varma, Himesh Patel, & Antonio Aakeel published: 2020 format: 9:39 audible audiobook (368 pages in hardcover) acquired: May 21 listened: May 22 – Jun 3 rating: 3 locations: unspecified metropolitan India about the author: journalist from Kerala, southern India, currently a doctoral student at the University of East Anglia, Norwich (This is my first book published in our current decade.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Ray

    Nine year old Jai, along with his friends Pari and Faiz are schoolmates who take it upon themselves to attempt to investigate the disappearance of one of their schoolmates. They try to be like the detectives that Jai watches endlessly on police shows. The police are not much help and the poverty of all involved hinders any help that they should be getting. During the children's' amateur sleuthing, more and more children continue to disappear, causing rifts between the Hindu and Muslim communitie Nine year old Jai, along with his friends Pari and Faiz are schoolmates who take it upon themselves to attempt to investigate the disappearance of one of their schoolmates. They try to be like the detectives that Jai watches endlessly on police shows. The police are not much help and the poverty of all involved hinders any help that they should be getting. During the children's' amateur sleuthing, more and more children continue to disappear, causing rifts between the Hindu and Muslim communities surrounding the poverty stricken basti (slum) in which they live. The novel brings to light the tragedy of human trafficking and the author mentions in the 'Afterword' that 180 children disappear in India daily. We do not actually know what became of the children in the book that disappear; whether they were sold as part of a human trafficking ring or used to harvest organs, which was one of the other possible gruesome outcomes that was mentioned. Each child that disappears is given a chapter in the book which humanizes them as opposed to them just being a name in the story. I was interested in reading about the culture as it was detailed, colorful, and in-depth. Jai, as the narrator possessed insight often way beyond his years. It will be interesting to see what comes next from Deepa Anappara.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Helen Power

    Synopsis Set in Metropolitan India, this atmospheric novel follows Jai and his two friends as they search for their missing classmate.  Obsessed with a police television show, Jai is convinced that he will be able to find the boy, even when the police themselves are indifferent about the case. As more and more children go missing, however, it becomes clear that there is something insidious going on, and Jai's life will be forever changed by the events that unfold... My Thoughts This book is Synopsis Set in Metropolitan India, this atmospheric novel follows Jai and his two friends as they search for their missing classmate.  Obsessed with a police television show, Jai is convinced that he will be able to find the boy, even when the police themselves are indifferent about the case. As more and more children go missing, however, it becomes clear that there is something insidious going on, and Jai's life will be forever changed by the events that unfold... My Thoughts This book is beautifully written. The words seem to leap off the page, creating a dynamic, three-dimensional image of metropolitan India. It felt like I was actually there.  The language, while beautiful, can be hard to follow at first, as Anappara uses many Indian words in casual conversation. While the meaning of the words can be discerned from context, I wish I'd noticed the glossary at the end of the e-book before reading the story.  That said, I don't think not knowing the exact meaning of words impacted my enjoyment of their use. The protagonist is a child named Jai, and his entire world is tinted by rose-coloured glasses. He has an innocent and naive perception of everything that goes on around him, which is demonstrated through both his observations and the prose. The book mostly comes from Jai's point of view, but we also get scenes from the missing children - their last memories before they disappear. This in itself is heartbreaking, particularly after reading the author's afterword.  180 children go missing every year in India, which is a shocking statistic that makes the words on these pages even more poignant. My favourite parts of this book were the parts where Jai's friend, Faiz, would state that the djinn were stealing the souls of the children. Brought up casually in conversation, I think this served several important purposes. It added a supernatural air of mystery to the story and it reinforced our perception of these children's innocence, but it also created a beautiful metaphor for the true malignant cause of the disappearances. This book is marketed as a mystery, but I disagree.  From the description on Goodreads, I'd gotten the impression that it was about a group of children searching for their lost friend, and that it would read similarly to Stranger Things or The Goonies. This isn't the case. Jai is compelled to search for the missing boy that he barely knew.  The story is not at all plot driven. It is primarily setting and character driven, and the focus isn't at all on his search. While his friends are three-dimensional characters in this story, I never got the feeling that they have an unbreakable bond and would go to the ends of the earth to find each other should one of them go missing.  The story itself doesn't carry with it a sense of hope that I prefer to see in coming of age stories. It's more of a harsh removal of the rose-coloured glasses, and we see the world for what it really is.  Gloomy. I recommend this book for someone wanting to get lost in the streets of Metropolitan India.  This is a coming of age story more than a mystery, and it delivers a powerful commentary on a true story, and how tragedy can shape an entire community. * Thank you to NetGalley and McClelland & Stewart for the arc to review! * This review appeared first on https://powerlibrarian.wordpress.com/ Instagram | Blog | Website | Twitter My 2020 Reading Challenge

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert Blumenthal

    This is a really excellent, though somewhat intense and heartbreaking debut novel. The author was a journalist in India for years and became aware of the rampant kidnapping of children that are later trafficked. Instead of writing an article about it, she chose to write a novel from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy. His name is Jai, and he is a wonderful guide through this very important story that is filled with the joy and optimism of a nine year old. Children start to disappear from h This is a really excellent, though somewhat intense and heartbreaking debut novel. The author was a journalist in India for years and became aware of the rampant kidnapping of children that are later trafficked. Instead of writing an article about it, she chose to write a novel from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy. His name is Jai, and he is a wonderful guide through this very important story that is filled with the joy and optimism of a nine year old. Children start to disappear from his neighborhood, a slum in a large Indian city. He is obsessed with true crime stories, and he decided to become a detective, along with two of his friends, and try to solve the crimes. There are various issues explored by this wonderful author, one of the major ones being the prejudice shown to the Muslim people by Hindus in India. The first supposition of most of the Hindus is that the disappearances are done by Muslims to get back at Hindus. Even after two Muslim children are taken, the Muslims are still blamed for the crimes. There is also the issue of police and political corruption, and it is hard to know who to believe as the narrative moves along. The novel does have a somewhat lighthearted touch, kind of similar to Slumdog Millionaire. The realities can be hard to take, seeing that children are disappearing in India at an alarming rate. The author does not sugar coat this aspect of the tale, and I admit to a bit of a feeling of hopelessness when I finished. However, the depiction of Indian life (let it be known that there is a glossary at the end to help with the various Indian words and phrases) and the exceptionally well-drawn characters of the children help this to be a thrilling, very involving story about a devastating and very important subject.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Garry Nixon

    Djinn Patrol takes us into the lives of people who live in a poor neighbourhood in the outer suburbs (at the end of the Purple Line on the metro) of a major Indian metropolis. The story is told by a nine year old who, with his two friends, decide to investigate the disappearance of children from their basti. They are children, but this isn't a children's book, so although it has some of the hallmarks of a whodunnit, there is no likelihood that the kids will solve the mystery. To narrate the stor Djinn Patrol takes us into the lives of people who live in a poor neighbourhood in the outer suburbs (at the end of the Purple Line on the metro) of a major Indian metropolis. The story is told by a nine year old who, with his two friends, decide to investigate the disappearance of children from their basti. They are children, but this isn't a children's book, so although it has some of the hallmarks of a whodunnit, there is no likelihood that the kids will solve the mystery. To narrate the story through the eyes of a not-very-smart nine year old is ambitious, but is largely achieved. He says of the woman getting her face bleached in a beauty parlour that she's "sitting still like a dead person". And a scene outside the toilet block, (the only place where the basti's inhabitants have access to water and lavatories), where tensions bubble up into Muslim v Hindu anger and bullying, and the protagonist's mother is berated on her mobile by her hi-fi employer, is one of the most troubling scenes I have read this year. The author has been a journalist, and there is a lot of Dickens here, especially Bleak House: it's an engrossing story used as a frame to report social issues, the chief one here being the powerlessness of the working poor in an Indian city, the indifference of the police and opportunism of local politicians. And just as the London fog is a character in itself in Dickens, here the smog is a constant, malign presence. The kids (mostly) go to school, and adults have the vote, but they all have a mountain to climb before becoming "hi-fi", (a term which encompasses people who live in flats, a vast social range from the elderly in blocks with rubbish-strewn lobbies, to the very rich in their penthouses). And we're reminded that the people at the centre of the story, poor as they are, are not the bottom of the heap, there are street children too, foraging and sleeping rough. There's a whole lot more here: the corrosive effects of Hindu nationalism, (especially on Muslims), and relentless misogyny.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    “I told you it's a djinn,” Faiz says. “You won't catch it on the Purple Line.” First time novelist Deepa Anappara started her writing career as a journalist in her native India and in her author's blurb it points out that “her reports on the impact of poverty and religious violence on the education of children won the Developing Asia Journalism Awards, the Every Human has Rights Media Awards, and the Sanskriti-Prabha Dutt Fellowship in Journalism.” What could possibly be more important to wri “I told you it's a djinn,” Faiz says. “You won't catch it on the Purple Line.” First time novelist Deepa Anappara started her writing career as a journalist in her native India and in her author's blurb it points out that “her reports on the impact of poverty and religious violence on the education of children won the Developing Asia Journalism Awards, the Every Human has Rights Media Awards, and the Sanskriti-Prabha Dutt Fellowship in Journalism.” What could possibly be more important to write about, than the welfare of children, in a country that apparently sees 180 children go missing every day? With Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Anappara revisits this area of her concern and expertise, and as my ARC explains through an interview with the author in the endnotes, Anappara's intent here was to give a voice to the powerless or missing individual children who tend to get lost in dull statistics or lurid tabloid headlines. I applaud Anappara's intent, think that she did a really nice job of capturing the voice and experience of children, loved the gritty setting that she brought to multi-sensory life, but there was something just a bit too didactic about this story; too heavy with repetition, peripheral social issues, and telling-not-showing. To be sure, there were plenty of nicely novelistic touches here, but this wasn't a complete success for me. (Note: I read an ARC and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) Do you know there are people who'll make you their slaves? You'll be locked up in a bathroom and let out daily only to clean the house. Or you'll be taken across the border to Nepal and forced to make bricks in kilns where you won't be able to breathe. Or you'll be sold to criminal gangs that force children to snatch mobiles and wallets. Take it from me, I have seen the worst of life. This is why children should never travel unaccompanied. This is why I'm giving you a lecture. What you're doing, it's irresponsible. It's downright dangerous. Jai is a nine year old boy living in an illegal slum (or basti) on the edge of a “hi-fi” neighbourhood. He likes to play cricket in the alleyways, argue with his older sister (the celebrated athlete, Runu), daydream in class, and watch true crime TV shows with his parents when they finally get home from work every night (his Ma is a maid for a demanding woman in the closest hi-fi building, and his Dadi works on the metro's Purple Line nearby). When one of the neighbourhood kids, and then another one, goes missing, Jai enlists his two best friends – the most brilliant girl in class, Pari, and the hard-working Faiz – to join him in “detectiving” the case. What starts out as a Hardy Boys-type adventure becomes much more serious as more and more children go missing from their slum, and along the way, we are told about: a corrupt and indifferent police force; a sexist and downtrodden society that sees young girls taking care of their even younger siblings while their parents work long hours at unstable jobs; the frequent flare-ups between Hindu and Muslim neighbours (exacerbated by a self-serving political class); rampant child labour (out in the streets and with piecemeal work in their homes); and frequent comparisons of the food, hygiene, homes, job stability, access to justice, and education opportunities available to the rich and to the poor. It's a lot. The best part was Jai's naive and mischievous nature (many of his actions and observations are innocently humourous within the surrounding seriousness) and it was novelistically satisfying (if emotionally heavy) to watch as his innocence becomes corrupted by the reality of his world: Believe me, today or tomorrow, every one of us will lose someone close to us, someone we love. The lucky ones are those who can grow old pretending they have some control over their lives, but even they will realise at some point that everything is uncertain, bound to disappear forever. We are just specks of dust in this world, glimmering for a moment in the sunlight, and then disappearing into nothing. You have to learn to make your peace with that. I did find this to be a heavy read – I was rarely excited to pick it back up again – and as it is at heart a mystery, I knew that the plot would need to resolve into either: a) The missing children are all found alive and returned to their parents; or b) Some unhappy fate would be revealed. And as I read, I couldn't really decide which would be the more satisfying (as in “real” or “earned”) ending, and I will note that Anappara's conclusion didn't disappoint me. Again: this isn't totally unsatisfying – and I did learn plenty – but it didn't feel like a complete success, either.

  28. 5 out of 5

    OutlawPoet

    What you need to know about this book is… It’s going to break your heart. It starts out with the most innocent children on earth, living in a land of abject poverty and corruption. And despite all the evils of their world, these kids are just so funny and pure. And you think you’re going to get a story that’s a bit adventure, a bit coming of age, and a sprinkling of magic. But, oh, this gets dark and tragic. I wish it hadn’t. I completely understand why it does – I was just unprepared after the set What you need to know about this book is… It’s going to break your heart. It starts out with the most innocent children on earth, living in a land of abject poverty and corruption. And despite all the evils of their world, these kids are just so funny and pure. And you think you’re going to get a story that’s a bit adventure, a bit coming of age, and a sprinkling of magic. But, oh, this gets dark and tragic. I wish it hadn’t. I completely understand why it does – I was just unprepared after the set up to enter a world quite so real and horrifying. It’s a well written book and, I think, a necessary book. It just wasn’t what I expected. *ARC Provided via Net Galley

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    How can such a tragic story be so charming and funny? Anappara’s debut novel creates a wonderful child narrator (along with a few other POV characters) and takes us deep inside their lives in an Indian slum. She beautifully shows us their energy, wit and determination while illustrating the fact than 180 Indian children disappear every day.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katie Long

    Anappara notes in her Afterward that, as a journalist, what is often left out of tragic stories are the personalities of the people involved, and she made a point of showing those here. In the midst of unspeakable tragedy and fear, the children of this Basti are alive with humor, talent, and compassion that never came off as overly cute or out of place.

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