My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow! Godan is an engrossing and vivid tour de force of the socio- eco- politico-cultural status of pre-Independence India.
It depicts the vampiric fangs of feudalism, the obnoxious and hypocritical caste divide and its appalling fallout on individuals and the pitiable lot of the farmer – who was literally at the bottom of the ‘food chain’. There is the all-pervading and preposterous usurious exploitation by shylocks; their exploitative methods result in extracting the last paisa from the farmer, and, if that was not enough, grabbing his house, cattle and land. The exploitation carries on in the form of pan-generational bonded labour.
The book also offers a glimpse of the so called ‘upper strata’ of Indian society before it was caught up in the turbulence of Independence. There is a frisson of adultery and an unrequited love story. This was a period before universal suffrage and talk of women’s empowerment. There is a convergence of the various protagonists but that remains inconclusive.
A must read, albeit in Hindi to get the real feel of the dust, grime, stink and the pitiable condition of the Indian village.
I read this on Kindle and missed the dictionary option for Hindi.