Harsh Mander’s Invisible People is his first book for teens. It will be published by Duckbill in October 2016.
This book is a chronicle of memories. Memories of begrimed city pavements and demolished slums. Of hunger and stolen childhoods. Of life within and beyond prison walls. Of hate in the air and blood on the streets. Of stigmatised castes. These are narratives from an India which few of us who read this book will ever encounter.
There is nothing in the stories that I have fictionalised. I have tried to recreate faithfully the narratives of the protagonists as recalled by them. I have only changed some names, to preserve their confidentiality.
The stories have been written over many years. In the nature of stories, they have a beginning and an end. But people have of course continued to live. I have updated a few stories to the time I sent the volume to my publishers. But many I have chosen to leave at the point when they were originally written.
Beyond their recalling to me, and my writing of them, many of the young actors in the pages of book have triumphed, some have been defeated. But every one of them has fought and resisted.
Their stories are not just of epic, sometimes incomprehensible, suffering. They are also stories also of the most extraordinary courage and hope under fire, love amidst slaughter, beauty in squalor, generosity in penury and dignity in profound want.