Farmer suicides in India, especially in certain districts of Maharashtra have seen a steep rise in the last decade.’ Shoes of the Dead’ by Kota Neelima is a tribute to all those dead farmers and the people fighting for their families to receive compensation. Non-fiction works related to farmer suicides abound, however a fictional work talking about the plight of the Indian farmers, due to varied reasons, was missing from the scenario. It was really great to finally find a political novel based on farmer suicides, set up in contemporary India.
This political book intertwines several aspects of socio-economic India through the eyes of an idealistic journalist, an ambitious young politician and an educated yet poverty- ridden farmer seeking justice for his brother’s suicide. In the midst of the tug-of-war between Keyur Kashinath, the young and rich politician and Gangiri Bhadra, the crusader of the farmers, there are characters like a greedy moneylender, a seemingly good district collector, unscrupulous middle men, a good and a bad maha sarpanch who plays important roles in Gangiri’s fight for justice.
Kota Neelima is a senior journalist with years of experience in reporting farmer suicide cases. In the author’s note she has specifically mentioned that farmer suicides in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra are the soul of the book. While reading the book you can feel that it has incorporated a plethora of incidents which are rampant in India. The writer has only given fictional names and characters to portray what is actually happening to the debt ridden farmers of Central and South-West India and put forth the gravity of the situation in front of us.