“Roy has a journalist’s unflinching eye, a poet’s talent for detail, and a radical sense of empathy that illuminates this account of the people who live on the Deonar garbage mountains. Urgent as a thriller, yet lingering in its unforgettable portraits of life, love and death, Castaway Mountain deserves every accolade. A stunning achievement.”
— Kiran Desai, Booker Prize Winner, author of Inheritance of Loss.
“It is rare that a book is a deeply moving love story with unforgettable characters while also illuminating a country and a culture. Saumya Roy’s book is a riveting love story set in the harrowing world of life as a trash picker on Mumbai’s garbage mountain. Read it for a most delicious story, read it to understand India, read it to know what it is like to grow up in extreme poverty in the shadow of enormous wealth. If you read one book about India, read this one.”
— Geeta Anand, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Cure
“A terrific and thrilling book about people who are trapped in the gravitational force of a garbage mountain in Mumbai. What a delightful and powerful experience it is to read a good book about India.”
— Manu Joseph, author of Serious Men
“Saumya Roy’s gorgeous Castaway Mountain is a remarkable feat of immersive reporting and story-telling, a deeply-felt exploration of ideas, and a gripping chronicle of the fates of the garbage-pickers of Mumbai; Roy immerses you so deeply in her characters’ lives and physical environment that at times I felt I was experiencing them myself. I loved this book.”
— Suzy Hansen, author of Notes on a Foreign Country
All of Mumbai’s memories and possessions end up at the Deonar garbage mountains where a small, forgotten community of rag-pickers lives. Following Farzana Ali, a girl born in Deonar, Saumya Roy reveals the inventiveness and resilience of the people who make a living off others’ waste.
Instilled with superstition and magical realism, we learn of the spirits of belongings sent here to die, as Farzana finds love, hope and even beauty in this desolate and dangerous landscape.
As Farzana enters adulthood, the community’s way of life becomes more and more precarious. Mumbai officials are forced to reckon with its waste mismanagement and discuss closing the dumping grounds, which would leave the people of Deonar more vulnerable than ever.
A modern parable exploring the consequences of urban overconsumption, Castaway Mountain delivers a moving testament to the impact of fickle desires and how true love and dignity can blossom in the darkest, most desperate places.