Anil Singh, a banker working in London, finds out that his uncle has died in Palanpur, a village in north India, and that he is the sole heir. Egged on by his India-loving girlfriend, Pat, Anil decides to go and take charge of his property (a small house and some farmland) and learn more about the country his parents came from. An ardent photographer, he takes his cameras along to avoid boredom and with the hope of later publishing the photos of the village in a coffee-table book. He even thinks he might try his hand at being a gentleman farmer. On the way to the village, Anil discovers that his uncle was murdered and that the police have arrested his uncle’s domestic help, a Dalit woman named Neetu, but no one believes that she could be the killer.
While the murder mystery is one thread of the story, we follow Anil as he bumbles along through Palanpur, making friends and mistakes. He is determined to help the villagers by bringing modern amenities and development to the village. This leads him on a sometimes confusing, yet eye-opening journey through the myriad complexities of northern India—the politics of different caste groups (the Thakurs, the Muraos, the Dalits), jealousy, corruption, bureaucratic nightmares, poverty, gender disparity, power struggles and the turmoil of a village divided.
Rumble in a Village starts out as a murder mystery but the narrative soon broadens into an entertaining and insightful fictional look at life in an Indian village. Peopled with colourful characters such as the seemingly innocent Babu who befriends Anil and starts working for him; the village headman, Rampal; Kishan Lal, who teaches Anil about farming and life in Palanpur; Captain, an army man who drops mysterious hints about the murder and much else; Ashok Kumar, the lawyer who helps Anil make sense of the property he has inherited; the beautiful and dedicated teacher, Smita; the obnoxious police superintendent, BKS; and many others (including a bad tempered billy-goat), the novel, based on Jean Drèze’s observations as a young researcher in a real-life village, paints a compelling portrait of the darkness and light that invest the lives of villagers in northern India.
Author: Luc Leruth, Jean Dr?ze
Publisher: Luc Leruth, Jean Dr?ze
No. Of Pages: 292
Country of Origin: India