Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

A Novel
Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (79 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Discover the debut novel that “announces the arrival of a literary supernova” (The New York Times Book Review), "a drama of childhood that is as wild as it is intimate" (Chigozie Obioma).

In a sprawling Indian city, three friends venture into the most dangerous corners of 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 1,000 miles away. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line plunges listeners deep into this neighborhood 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 rumors 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.

©2020 Deepa Anappara (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A brilliant debut." (Ian McEwan)

"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 best-selling author of A Woman Is No Man)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    24
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    51
  • 4 Stars
    20
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    45
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing first novel

Anaparra lures you into the basti slum with her confident, young protagonist who dreams big even in such a poor place. However his spunk can only hold reality at bay for so long.
I hope this book reaches the hearts of those with the power to change the statistics. I certainly won't forget the stories in it.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Striking Postcolonial Perspective But Falls Short

I picked this one up on the day of its release because The New York Times Review of Book was glowing over it and because Ian McEwan among others was singing its praises. That was a kind of experiment for me since I’m not usually an early adopter. I wanted to see if I shared that reaction right out of the gate.

I’m sorry for that hype because, while there is a lot I admire here, I don’t think it rises to the level of your typical McEwan. It’s a striking book with a look at world most of us never see. I admire it for giving voice to protagonists who have some dignity, and I enjoy its setting. But, I think it blinks at the end and undermines some of its strong premise in the way it presents multiple narrators to limited effect.

Our main characters here are all children in the slums of India. A couple are so poor that they live in the railway station stealing and getting by on their wits. Our central character, Jai, is somewhat better off; his parents care for him, and he has the relative luxury of going to school and watching TV.

In fact, Jai watches so much TV that, when first one and then another of the children in his neighborhood go missing, he determines he will find them like the detectives he knows from his shows. He recruits a pair of his friends, wins the friendship of a stray dog, and tries to piece the larger clues together.

Jai’s voice and perspective are, for me, the star of what’s happening here. This is postcolonial in both its perspective and its early structure.

The climax of the first part of this comes when Jai and his young friends steal a little money and take the newly built (in part by his father) purple line of the city’s rail system. It feels a lot like Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time in the way our protagonist ventures on a great adventure that is also the everyday stuff of others’ commute. That postcolonial reworking is effective as a structural ploy – a refiguring of Western culture in something of the classic example of the way steel drums came from reworked surplus and supplies – and the boys’ adventure is powerful.

It’s also powerful in the way we see the world through the eyes of characters who are shaped by forces so out of their control. As an Indian in a nation that has much of its economy shaped by powers abroad (at least one character takes classes with an aspiration to work for an American call center), as a lower-class resident of a community that the area wealthy routinely threaten to tear down, and above all as a child, Jai can never forget his powerlessness.

Anappara’s greatest success here is in refusing to see these children as acted upon. They have agency, and they really do conceive of themselves as detectives with the power to solve this crime.

All that said, [SPOILER ALERT:] I think this loses some of its edge when, at the end, we learn that instead of inchoate, international powers that cost this community its children, there is a real serial killer. Jai even has a hand in uncovering him when, though the corrupt police try to stop him, he is among the first to storm into the house where they find the incriminating evidence. I find that move a betrayal of the larger sense of the people of this community as victimized by a global economy indifferent to the price the poorest of the world have to pay.

Further [SPOILER ALERT:]. I’m also frustrated by the seemingly gratuitous plot twist that Jai’s sister, angry that her father has struck her, decides to run away in the midst of the childnapping crisis. As a result, she seems to be another victim, one never recovered or accounted for, and the price her parents pay is extreme. The action simply doesn’t feel authentic to me. Before her decision, she seems to have the same pluck as Jai. After, she seems sullen and unnecessarily cruel.

On balance, I do see a lot to appreciate. It’s good to hear so striking a voice and to be brought to a world of such poverty. It’s not McEwan, though, and I don’t think it’s even extraordinary by the standards of current releases. Again, maybe I’d be more inclined toward it if I didn’t walk in expecting a masterpiece.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful performances, sad story

Anappara has created a rich world by telling the story though the eyes of the nine year old Jai. The readers are wonderful, especially Indira Varma who has one of the most excellent voices I have ever heard. The story is heartbreaking but told with humour and much respect for the rich human tapestry. The basti of this large Indian city comes alive with it’s inhabitants. Most worthwhile.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

lovely and heartbreaking

narrators added to the book. I feel like this story was true window into the life of a street child.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An incredible journey

What an amazing adventure exploring the dusty, littered streets of Jai’s impoverished neighborhood searching for clues with his plucky young friends. He leads us through this tale with humor, heartbreak and love bringing us to a deeper understanding that every life has value and every loss robs us all of a story that never gets told in full. I loved this book and these families who all deserve a better chance.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

djin patrol

this book has held my attention gor 3 days...Now that its over I will miss jai

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book, but not a page turner!

The New York Times described this book as a page turner. For me, it was anything but. It’s a brilliant portrait of the under class. I needed time to reflect and absorb this story so was happy to put this lovely book down as long as needed... to breathe.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Definitely worth the read...skip the credits

The characters are wonderful. I became emmersed in their family and community lives. The book was educational as well as entertaining. The authoress really brought the children to life for us.

My only criticism is that it seemed totally unnecessary for the mention of Brexit and President Trump after the end of her novel. Child trafficing predates either of those two and the comment took away from an otherwise excellent literary effort.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Perfect Novel!

A perfect novel, told from the perspective of a lively bunch of boys and girls from a Mumbai slum, exquisitely read.