How far can you walk for name and fame while wearing the Shoes of the Dead?

India as a developing nation has a variety of problems to cope with. But none is greater and more dangerous than farmers killing themselves over the grief of not being able to pay the loans acquired by them. With this premise in mind, Kota Neelima begins the tale of Shoes of the Dead. A story that focuses to dwell deep into the perils of the Indian farmers who have to struggle every day to grow the food that keeps this nation alive.

From the first line itself, the author, Kota Neelima, sets in the exact mood that would make you care about the cause of the book. The story starts with Keyur Kashinath, son of the famous Vasihnav Kashinath, trying to understand the situation of his constituency as he keeps hearing about the problems that just won’t go away. Coming to power as a newly elected MP from the poverty stricken village of Mityala, Keyur’s informal meeting to figure out reasons why farmers are committing suicide sets the tone of the book.

As the story progresses we learn how deep the problem is. Keyur’s character comes out well as a newly elected MP as he makes mistakes due to his arrogance. These mistakes get escalated when the journalist, Nazar Prabhakar, learns how deep the political conspiracy is to silence the true number of farmer’s suicide as it tarnishes the name of Keyur.

Following a lead from one of the associates of Keyur, Nazar tries to help one of the strongest characters in the book, Gangiri Bhadra.

Gangiri Bhadra’s character is fascinating to read as you get to know how much a person can suffer to make something right that has gone terribly wrong. As you read, you get to know how Gangiri’s lifestyle in the city takes a violent 360 degree turn when he gets to know about his brother’s death. The chapter where you learn how he helps farm widows get the justice they deserve is amazing to read.
The story also focuses on the bad guys such as Durga Das and Lambodar Maha Sarpanch. The motives behind Durga Das trying to capitalize on farmer’s death is traditionally clique, but Lambodar’s reasons to nullify as many farmer suicides as possible is as shocking as it can get.

The research done by Neelima is very good as you get to know how farmers struggle to turn the brown of the mud into the lively green of the nature. Some of the aspects of Keyur’s character could have been written better as he makes mistakes that no son whose father has been a cunning politician for more than 30 years should make.

hoes of the Dead starts out strong, but is riddled with uneven storytelling that keeps jumping from one aspect of storytelling to another. Like how after Gangiri makes a big splash by becoming the member of the suicide committee it’s explained how he gains trust of the other members. I felt that part should have been explained before the author makes him seem like such a menace to Keyur.

All in all, it’s a good attempt on part of Neelima as she explains the perils of farmers striving every day to provide food for this great nation of India. I will give 3.5 stars for the solid writing that sometimes surprises you and makes you really care about the situation endured by the life givers of our nation.

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