The Wildings is Nilanjana Roy’s first work of fiction.
I have known Nilanjana off and on only via her Twitter updates. I have not read anything written by her prior to this book and while I have shaken hands with her when she signed a copy of The Wildings for me at the book launch, I have not spent time with the author in conversation. We do have common acquaintances.
The Wildings is a book with a delightful story that revolves around a community of cats that live in the Nizamuddin area of New Delhi, India. The author has cats as pets and they have undoubtedly inspired her imagination for this story. It is fiction and also fantasy and yet there’s loads of realism in it.
This is one of those books I wish I’d read when I was just turning into a teenager. It would have fired my imagination and inspired me to think big.
The story is the telling of one major incident in the lives of these cats. The first 75-80% of the book is building up till the event finally takes place and how the cats handle that event [ I am trying very hard not to give the story away! ]. At the same time, the story indicates that there might be a sequel [ which is something Nilanjana also touched on briefly at the book launch ]. The story could actually lend itself to a series of books revolving around the same leading protagonists in different settings. A set of comic books perhaps? With fantastic art.
Coming back to the current edition. The artwork in the book is fantastic. I am pleasantly surprised they found an artist with the skills of Prabha Mallya to lend support to this delightful story. The artwork is wonderful and evokes just the right feelings at just the right moments during the telling of the tale. If I had read this book as a teenager, I would have been scared and spooked sometimes and I would have smiled and said “Awww!” aloud sometimes. [ I was “Awww!”ing throughout the book anyway but giving it the “teenager” perspective allows me to do so with dignity *grin* ].
The language and names used by Nilanjana are evocative [ the Mongoose character named Kirri is from the clan “Mungusi” ] and the illustrations do a wonderful job of lending visual support. It’s a happy book for the most part but the scary bits are scary indeed.
Despite what the hardback looks like – thick, daunting – it isn’t. It is a quick read and the book isn’t heavy either. If you saw it and I asked you to imagine it’s weight and then I asked you to hold it, you’d be surprised. I love the book design too. The typography is elegant and easy on the eyes and I also stuck my nose in to the pages a few times. Smells good. Good job by the Aleph Book Company.
The story is quite straightforward and if you’re a cynic or even a skeptic, you will know what happens next for some of the plots lines and some others will catch you completely by surprise. It’s a refreshingly light story and you will be delighted if you go in expecting a happy experience and a quick two or three evenings read, sitting in the lawn with your pets around you and a cool summer drink.
I know it is not good practice to classify the readership of a book by age but I believe pre-teens would absolutely adore this book – especially if they have pets at home or have had interactions with animals. Of course, a 32 yr old like me can also enjoy it even though the last pet who lived with me passed away two decades ago and it wasn’t a cat.
You can find @nilanjanaroy on Twitter and there’s a dedicated website for The Wildings. You can buy a copy of the book from Flipkart.