Aug 2019 - A State of Freedom

A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee
Book Group 1 – August 2019


Neel Mukherjee’s compelling book, A State Of Freedom, is full of unforgettable scenes, language and characters as well as a study of brutality of social divisions and how a society’s gross inequalities of power and money demean and deform human condition.
The book wrests open the central, defining events of our century - displacement and migration.  Mukherjee tracks five characters who, from a domestic cook in Mumbai, to a vagrant and his dancing bear, to a girl who escapes terror in her home village for a new life in the city, find out the meaning of dislocation.
The book club found Mukherjee’s A State of Freedom to be an extraordinary, complex, and hard-hitting book. The members expressed mixed feelings about the way the first story ended rather abruptly and the way the third story made them feel uncomfortable due to the graphic portrayal of animal cruelty and it’s relevance in “modern India.”  The last chapter written in the stream of consciousness style left some wondering about the author’s intent.
Shobhana Venkataraman