Author(s): Deepa Anappara
Based on a true story, three children in the slums of a sprawling Indian city set out to solve the case of a missing classmate in this harrowing debut about comradery, adventure, and the slow unravelling of a communal tragedy. Nine-year-old Jai watches too many reality police shows, thinks he's smarter than his friend Pari (even though Pari gets the best grades), and knows he's a better boss than his friend Faiz (even though Faiz has a job). When one of their classmates goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV, enlists Pari and Faiz to be his assistants, and sets out to solve the case and save his community from the threats placed by the local police force. But what begins as a game turns sinister as other children start disappearing, and Jai, Pari, and Faiz are swept up in the political and religious anxieties of terrified parents, while dealing with the horrifying possibility of a soul-snatching djinn in their midst. And when the disappearances edge closer to home, Jai finds his life changed forever. At times exuberant and charming, at times devastatingly heartbreaking, this brilliant and immersive debut novel captures the fierce warmth of a community, the playful curiosity of children, and the darkness that hides around every corner.
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020