Chemical Reactions

Illustration for TIME by Astrid Chesney

Animal, as he proudly calls himself, has two wishes, and two wishes only: first, he'd like to stand upright; and second, like most hormonal teenage boys, he'd like to have sex. Mix Kipling's Mowgli with Roth's Alexander Portnoy and Twain's Huck Finn and you get the errant namesake narrator of Indra Sinha's lively novel Animal's People — a feral jungle boy and randy malcontent with a preternatural gift of the gab. Wounded and brassy, Animal scampers about the bastis (or slums) on all fours — his back crooked like a scorpion's tail — scavenging with...

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