Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
In this transporting debut novel, three friends venture into the most dangerous corners of a sprawling Indian city to find their missing classmate.
Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line, lies a jumble of tin-roofed homes where nine-year-old Jai lives with his family. From his doorway, he can spot the glittering lights of the city’s fancy high-rises, and though his mother works as a maid in one, to him they seem a thousand miles away. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line plunges readers deep into this neighbourhood to trace the unfolding of a tragedy through the eyes of a child as he has his first perilous collisions with an unjust and complicated wider world.
Jai drools outside sweet shops, watches too many reality police shows, and considers himself to be smarter than his friends Pari (though she gets the best grades) and Faiz (though Faiz has an actual job). When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. He asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants, and together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit.
But what begins as a game turns sinister as other children start disappearing from their neighborhood. Jai, Pari, and Faiz have to confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force, and rumours of soul-snatching djinns. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will never be the same again.
Drawing on real incidents and a spate of disappearances in metropolitan India, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is extraordinarily moving, flawlessly imagined, and a triumph of suspense. It captures the fierce warmth, resilience, and bravery that can emerge in times of trouble and carries the reader headlong into a community that, once encountered, is impossible to forget.
“There’s an almost Harry Potter–ish vibe to the relationship among the three intrepid kids, and Jai’s voice is irresistible: funny, vivid, smart, and yet always believably a child’s point of view. Anappara paints all of her characters, even the lost ones, with deep empathy, and her prose is winningly exuberant. But she also brings a journalist’s eye to her story, one that is based on the shocking numbers of children who disappear from Indian cities every day.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Jai is an utterly convincing voice, a lively, cheerful, cheeky boy yet through his eyes Anappara skilfully reveals the harsh reality beneath; the police corruption and stark inequality in a country where 180 children are said to go missing each day. An outstanding debut — Vintage’s lead for 2020 — and not to be missed.”—The Bookseller
“Award-winning journalist Anappara uses bright, propulsive prose that only accentuates the seriousness of her subject: the disappearance of children…, a real-life issue given intimate treatment here.”—Library Journal, which has featured Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line in its ‘Books to Anticipate’ list
“The author has done an excellent job of telling her sometimes sad story in Jai’s credible nine-year-old voice, and her treatment of her setting, with its ingrained social inequities, is a model of verisimilitude. Best, however, is her characterization, especially that of Jai, who comes to life on the page to live on in readers’ memories.”—Michael Cart, Booklist
“A brilliant debut.”—Ian McEwan, Man Booker Prize-winning author of Amsterdam
“Storytelling at its best—not just sympathetic, vivid, and beautifully detailed, but completely assured and deft… We care about these characters from the first page and our concern for them is richly repaid.”—Anne Enright, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Gathering
“A stunningly original tale… I stayed up late every night until I finished, reluctant to part from Deepa Anappara’s heart-stealing characters.”—Etaf Rum, New York Times bestselling author of A Woman Is No Man
“Deepa Anappara is a writer of considerable talent. This is a wonderful, energetic book filled with humour and pathos. Charming, sensitive and deeply moving."—Nathan Filer, Costa Prize-winning author of The Shock of the Fall
“The children at the heart of this story will stay with you long after you turn the last page… a wonderful debut.”—Christie Watson, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Language of Kindness
“A moving and confident novel about the preciousness of life. The storytelling is distinctive and immersive."—Nikesh Shukla, author and editor of The Good Immigrant
“Extraordinarily good, deeply moving and thought provoking with brilliant characterisation. A very important book.”—Harriet Tyce, author of Blood Orange
“A magnificent achievement: the endeavours of the Djinn Patrol offer us a captivating world of wit, warmth and heartbreak, beautifully crafted through a child's unique perspective.”—Mahesh Rao, author of Polite Society
“A profoundly emphatic work of creative genius that will stay with you forever.”—Sonia Faleiro, author of Beautiful Thing
“Created from whole cloth, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is a richly textured rendition of a world little seen in Indian literature. There is no desire to smooth and tidy in fiction what is untidy in life, but instead there is a pay off for the reader in a story that is as quietly troubling as it is convincing.”—Mridula Koshy, author of If It is Sweet