Publisher : Tulika Books
Author : Devashish Makhija
‘Oonga‘ sits deep in the clash between the Adivasis, the Naxalites, the CRPF and a rapacious mining company. It moves between lyrical innocence and militant justice, fear and brutal oppression – ramping up the tempo till all explodes.
At the centre of all of this is a little Dongria Kondh tribal boy, Oonga, who, desperate to see a performance of the Ramayana, goes on an epic journey to the big city – to return metamorphosed into the blue Adivasi prince of the forest, Rama himself! And, Rama-like, he must now take on the gun-wielding demons of the State, who have swooped down on his village after abducting its passionately idealistic but pragmatic teacher, Hemla didi.
With echoes of real incidents, multiple perspectives, and a retelling of mythology, the book attempts to expose the dystopia of ‘development’ and conflict of ideologies, complicated by the faultlines of language. Showing how peaceful people become victims of violence and are forced into battles they don’t want to fight.
Winner of the Neev Book Award 2021 in the Young Adult Novel Category
“This year’s winner is a mature book… The narrative includes elements of the onomatopoeic, the impressionistic and the magical in its scathing attack on corruption, apathy and in showing the suffering of indigenous people… This book is remarkable for building a powerful thematic structure by controlling several interacting leitmotifs. These interacting ideas bring within the novel’s scope a staggering range of subtexts from hope in human wisdom to near despair at human depravity.”
~ the Neev Literature Awards Jury
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