The 86th Village

Agora. Apr. 2022. 268p. ISBN 9781951709747. pap. $16.95. M
DEBUT In 1964, the Indian government approved a dam that would eventually submerge 86 villages. Although the people of the villages objected, the project went forward until money disappeared into the pockets of corrupt politicians. By 2004, after mining projects stripped the land, most of those villagers had moved with no compensation. But one village on higher ground, Nilgi, held out with the guidance of their honest landlord Raj Nayak, who tried to organize the villagers to protest. However, the appearance of a beggar girl, Reshma, changed everything in Nilgi, as people were curious about her and her background. That curiosity and the search for Reshma’s family will eventually destroy Raj, who had loved Reshma’s mother. Raj’s affair with a prostitute might outweigh everything he did for education and the village. Then the entire area suffers when floods come.
VERDICT The debut is a powerful indictment of graft and corruption, as well as a comparison of poverty and wealth in that country. However, it’s difficult to describe this atmospheric novel as crime fiction, except for the corruption.
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