INR 699, 304 pp, Fiction
An entertaining and insightful look at life in an Indian village. 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 Nectu, but no one believes that she could be the killer.
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 Palanpun 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. BIOS; and many others (including a bad tempered billy-goat). the novel, based on Jean Drew’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.
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 Dalin), jealousy, cor-ruption. bureaucratic nightmares. poverty gender disparity, power struggles and the turmoil of a village divided.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
LUC LERUTH has published short stories and several novels, including La Machine Magique (Callimard, 2004), a story set in Jaipur during the time of the construction of the Jantar Mantar. He is a mathematician (trained in astronomy) and has a PhD in economics. He studied at the Indian Statistical Institute (New Delhi) in the 1980s and is currently teaching at the University of Essex. Laugh has also published extensively in scientific journals. He has travelled all over the world and lived in India, Fiji. the US. Gabon. Ghana. and the Philippines. He is active in the private sector, in the area of corporate governance and transparency, as well as in various groups of economists involved in public policy. He married Sumita (Rekha), an Indian professor of TESOL who passed away in 2013. Rumble in a Village is written in her memory.
JEAN DREZE, a development economist, did his PhD at the Indian Statistical Institute (New Delhi) in the early 1980s and is currently Visiting Professor at Ranchi University. He has lived, worked, and travailed far and wide in India over the last forty years. He has made influential contributions to development economics and public policy with special reference to India. His recent books include An (human; Glory: India and Its Cormainions (with Amartya Sen) and Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone. Dreze is also active in various campaigns for social and economic rights as well as in the worldwide movement for peace and disarmament.