Korok lives in a small Gond village in Odisha. His life is in the garden he tends every day. Anchita, an artist, lives in the house which has the garden. One day, the government tells the Gonds they have to leave the village. A company wants to mine the sacred hill next to it for bauxite. The Gonds oppose it, but the government, led by police officer Sorkari Patnaik, is sure to win. So is the company. How long will the Gond resistance last, when politicians, young activists and even Maoists arrive at the village? What can a lone gardener and a girl with a sketchbook do against the most powerful people in the land?


  • A smart and insightful novel based on the Niyamgiri agitation in Odisha, which deftly interweaves the story of one of the biggest land conflicts in India and the lives of its adolescent protagonists.
  • Korok, the protagonist, is one of those people who are invisible in our world – a poor tribal boy, illiterate but full of intelligence, wisdom and knowledge, living on the margins of a society that considers him as lesser than equal, and battling a government that sees him as dispensable.
  • Anchita, the forest officer’s daughter, is the perfect contrast to Korok. A rebel with a cause and a heart, she joins hands with Korok to fight for the Gond community from being displaced by the combined forces of the government and the mining corporation.
  • Siddhartha Sarma’s language and narration are superlative. He presents the corruption of the powers-that-be and their contempt for indigenous communities brilliantly, weaving them into the story in a way that young adult readers will understand, without either getting technical or talking down.
  • The only way this would have been even better is if it had been an own-voices book, but one hopes that day is not far.


An intelligent young adult novel about the people whose struggles we don’t see in our bubbles of privilege. It’s the kind of book that makes you believe that Indian YA is growing up.


Author: Siddhartha Sarma
Language: English
Page Extent: 212 pages
Price: Rs. 295
ISBN: 978-93-87103-11-5
Publisher: Duckbill, 2018
Subject Category: Fiction/Young Adult/Indigenous Communities/Bureaucracy
Age-group: 12+

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