Zee News, Sep 6 2007
London, Sept 06: Indian novelist Indra Sinha is among six authors shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious award for fiction.
Sinha has been selected for his novel ‘Animal’s People’ which is based on the Bhopal chemical disaster. The novel by Sinha, who set up a clinic in 1996 to help survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, is a fictionalised story of a victim of the industrial disaster.
Other writers in the contest for the prestigious 50,000-pound literary award are Ian McEwan (On Chesil Beach), Lloyd Jones (Mister Pip) and Nicola Barker (Darkmans), Anne Enright (The Gathering)cand Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist).
The winner will be named on 16 October. Last year’s winner was India-born Keran Desai for her book “The Inheritance of Loss”.
“Animal’s People” is the second novel of Indra Sinha, the first being “The Death of Mr Love”, published in September 2002.
According to Sinha, “Animal’s People” is dedicated to his friend and Bhopal gas victim Sunil Kumar, who died in July 2006, aged 34.
Some of the stories Sunil told the author about his life found their way into the novel. However, the character of Animal is entirely fictional, as are his antics, the author said.
Sunil’s whole life was shaped – and blighted – by what Bhopalis still refer to simply as ‘that night’, when poison gas leaked from Union Carbide’s factory and killed thousands in the most hideous ways.
Sunil lost all but the two youngest members of his large and loving family. Aged 12, he became the family breadwinner and until his death his first thoughts were always for his sister and brother.
He was kind to other children too, helped form an organization of orphans and threw himself into the survivors’ struggle for justice, becoming one of its best-known characters.
After Sunil died, his friends vowed that never again would anyone suffering from mental problems get as little help as he had. Although there was no budget for it, a psychiatric department was opened at the free Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal.
Sambhavna is funded by the Bhopal Medical Appeal, which provides medical care to victims of the gas disaster. All consultations, medicines, treatment and therapies are completely free.