Monday, May 05, 2014

Nilanjana Roy's The Wildlings

I picked up The Wildlings quite by chance at the library the other day. I'd heard about it and read Jai Arjun Singh's review, so when I saw it on the 'Just Returned' shelf, I picked it up immediately.

When I got home, I sampled the book to decide which of my two library books I should read first. Before I knew it, I'd read fifty pages. Yes, it's THAT engrossing.

The Wildlings is about a world that exists in and around our own - the world of the cats in our neighbourhoods. The Wildlings is a clan of cats that lives in Nizamuddin in Delhi. Each cat in the clan has its own distinct personality - there's Katar the leader, Baraal the fierce queen, Miao the wise Siamese, Hulo the warrior tom, Southpaw the kitten and - the latest entrant - Mara the Sender. 

The book starts with Mara's arrival in Nizamuddin. She's a Sender, which means she can broadcast her thoughts to other cats across large distances. The arrival of a Sender generally means troubled times ahead for the clan, and it's no different this time. 

Though Mara is the Sender, she is by no means the main protagonist. Every cat in the clan gets its own stage time and its own role. My favourite was Southpaw the kitten, who just can't seem to keep himself out of trouble. Other small animals are also introduced - a mongoose named Kirri, a tiger family named Ozzy and Rani and Rudra, a cheel named Tooth.  

Simple language and sheer imagination make this book a great read. Adding to the atmosphere are the wonderful illustrations of the cats. Roy also seems to have had fun with the animal names. My favourites were the Supreme Court cats named Affit and Davit, a mouse named Jethro Tail, squirrels named Ao and Jao. 

By the way, lest the cats make you think that this is a book for children, be warned - it's most definitely not, at least for younger children. There's plenty of violence and death in it, especially towards the end. 

The book ends on a note that indicates that there's a sequel coming - I fervently hope that's true, because I can't wait to read more about these cats.
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