Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Village

Finished June 29
The Village by Nikita Lalwani

This novel is set in southern India, in a unique prison, an open village. All the prisoners have been found guilty of murder and have exhibited good behaviour in traditional prisons, allowing them the opportunity to come here for the remainder of their sentence. Their families live here with them (a requirement), and they learn skills that are transferable to their future life. They may work outside the Village, even start their own businesses. The local governor is behind the project, having come up with the idea. Ray is the main character here, and she is a BBC journalist who has come here to direct a documentary about the prison. She and two others from the BBC, Serena and Nathan will live in the village for several weeks, getting to know the people who live there and tell their story. But the three have different ideas about how to go about this, and different motivations. For Ray, it is the first project that she has brought forward the idea for, and despite her experience on other projects, she lacks confidence. Ray is also of Indian heritage herself, and the only one of the three who can speak the language. Because of the cultural knowledge and language ability, she is able to get to know people there in a different way than the others. Serena is a few years older than Ray, with more experience, a woman who just wants to get a good story and get on with things. She can be very focussed, but tends to treat the inmates as characters rather than real people. Nathan has his own experience with prison, for a lesser crime, and is a bit of a handsome rafe. As Ray begins to make connections with the people and finds out their stories, she also finds herself torn between compassion and getting a good story. She finds herself pressured to press upon those in the village to take actions that aren't necessarily in their best interests. It is an interesting story that shows the common theme of westerners coming in and taking advantage of people of another culture. It also shows the mixed emotions of the prisoners themselves, who feel compelled to participate in this life for the benefits it gives them despite the true wishes of their families. It shows the ego of both the journalists and the governor in their sense of knowing what is best without asking those involved. Some of the stories too show the conflicted nature of the crimes, many of which were committed in self-defense. An interesting look at a difficult issue.


  1. It does sound very interesting, not sure I'll be able to add it to my pile without it toppling over. Oh what the H...I love learning about different cultures.

  2. I know what you mean Irene. My piles are multiplying.

  3. So it is fiction, rather than non-fiction? Because it sounds almost like a documentary. It does sound rather interesting, I'm always fascinated by the clash of cultures and the way to hell being paved with good intentions.

  4. Yes Marina. Definitely fiction. And your last sentence describes the situation rather well. With the main protagonist being of Indian heritage, she is torn between what she believes to be the right thing to do and what is expected of her.