Oonga (English) View larger

Oonga (English)

Author : Devashish Makhija

Every now and then, the lush green of the hills is hacked by wastelands of bleeding red earth and limbless tree stumps. Over these, a signboard ‘India Aluminium Inc.’ – with a big eye – keeps an eerie, humming, omnipotent watch. And it is with riveting cinematic metaphors like this that Devashish Makhija transitions his film Oonga into a powerful novel that sits deep in the clash between adivasis, naxalites, the CRPF and a rapacious mining company.

 2021: Winner of Neev Book Award - YA Category

  

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Rs. 295.00

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    EnglishRs. 295.00$12.50

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Age 16+
Specifications 8.5” x 5.5”, 300 pages, black and white, soft cover
ISBN 978-81-948381-2-8
First Published 2020
Tags Young Adult novel, book about development, environment, exploitation, journey, Rama, tribals, land, Naxals, CRPF

The story moves between lyrical innocence and militant justice, fear and brutal oppression – nuanced, sensitive, ramping up the tempo till all explodes. But at the heart of the churn is the little Dongria Kondh boy, Oonga. Desperate to see a performance of ‘Sitaharan’, he goes on an epic journey to the big city – to return as the blue adivasi prince of the forest, Rama himself! And, Rama-like, he must now take on the gun-wielding demons who have swooped on his village after abducting its passionately idealistic but pragmatic teacher, Hemla didi. With echoes of real incidents, a filmmaker’s flair, a cast of unforgettable characters, and a masterful retelling of mythology, the book hurtles breathlessly forward 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.

"I consider my ‘stories’ the ‘people’s perspective’."

"There are some things in life we don’t think about often and deeply enough. Our daily lives always get in the way. Death, injustice, our anthropocentrism, our capacity for hate, our very imbalanced view of development… I like raising questions about these through my stories." - Devashish Makhija, India Currents interview

"Speaks the truth out loud"

"What stayed with me after reading the book is the time ... [Devashish has] taken to observe and articulated the rich cultural abundance that exists in the nook and corner of India ... The reality has been presented in its unaltered version and ... not many speak the truth out loud in such a crisp & clear manner." - Hercules Singh Munda, founder of Trilingo (a tribal language learning platform)

Highly recommend it!

Oonga is naughty, Oonga is lazy, Oonga is brave, Oonga is curious, Oonga is adorable, Oonga is impish and Makhija has the reader rooting for Oonga from the beginning till the end. Makhija is a good mixologist and he serves his readers a potent cocktail, one that will leave behind a bitter sweet aftertaste even after it disappears down the gullet. - Vinod George Joseph, Blogger

'The story had to be told... wonderful that now it's in a book'

It’s a story that you know is really exploring the difficulties that Adivasis feel ... because they are caught between the Maoists, Naxal movements and outfits that are really fighting for their rights but can also get violent ... and how the common Adivasis just get completely caught between fighting for their rights and really not knowing how they should be dealing with their lives ... It’s a very complex issue and seldom do we see such complexities being told simply and powerfully. The story had to be told and it’s really wonderful that now it’s in a book and we can all read it. - Actor and director Nandita Das, Jaipur Literature Fest 2021

"An unputdownable book!"

"A fabulous cover... intriguing, instantly empathetic and makes you want to know the story! Evolving from a film, Oonga carries a rich visual quality into a novel written with passion, soul and sensitivity, about the difficulties of the Adivasis caught between the the Maoists and the state, a theme which needs to be understood. An unputdownable book!"- Sanjoy K Roy, Festival Producer, Jaipur Literature Festival

An extraordinary tale

As much as Oonga is poetic and lyrical in parts, with the beautifully interspersed elements of magic realism, it contrasts so very starkly with the unflinching brutality, the unfiltered violence that the reader is forced to confront ... The book forces an examination of the relationship between man and nature, the interconnectedness as much as the conflict ... - Nandini Sen Mehra, The Punch Magazine

'Oonga' presents itself as an 'ecological odyssey'

The charm of this novel lies in the author’s narration, which is intense and multi-layered, yet sufficiently meticulous, especially in portraying geographies, people and events ... Rather than interpreting Oonga as an anti-development narrative, it would be pertinent to ask what it does with the idea of development. What I found spellbinding about the novel is its attempt to explore systemic violence from a psychosomatic perspective, to impress upon the reader that it perpetuates through the corruption of the human mind and degeneration of soul, rather than external bloodshed and mutilation. - Sunipa Das Gupta, The Wire

A book that taps into the politics of development

"In his writing, he [Devashish Makhija] brings out the essence of what it means to be in Oonga’s world: to straddle between pumpkins, bamboo, and grain, and rifles, blood and death." . - Dalreen Ramos, Mid Day

"Well-written story told with passion and conviction"

The story moved me ... Devashish Makhija has managed to hold the reader’s attention through a tightly knit gripping tale about the dilemma of adivasis; throughout the story, the filmmaker’s flair is evident in the beautiful imagery... - Shoma Abhyankar, Writer and Blogger

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Oonga (English)

Oonga (English)

Every now and then, the lush green of the hills is hacked by wastelands of bleeding red earth and limbless tree stumps. Over these, a signboard ‘India Aluminium Inc.’ – with a big eye – keeps an eerie, humming, omnipotent watch. And it is with riveting cinematic metaphors like this that Devashish Makhija transitions his film Oonga into a powerful novel that sits deep in the clash between adivasis, naxalites, the CRPF and a rapacious mining company.

 2021: Winner of Neev Book Award - YA Category

  

Write a review