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The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy. Book Review

September 7, 2016


The Wildings are a small clan of wild cats who live in the alleyways and ruins of Nizamuddin, an old district in Delhi. The clan’s leader is a wise Siamese, Miao, whose followers are the brave Katar, the warrior tomcat, Hulo, and the beautiful Beraal, who all keep a parental eye on the playful kitten, Southpaw, who is always getting himself into trouble.

The animals and birds of Nizamuddin are able to communicate with each other over a long distance by ‘sending’. Some amongst them are particularly strong senders. One day the presence of a small orange, pampered house kitten, Mara, a particularly strong sender, appears amongst the clan and their lives will never be the same again.

The Wildings is a mid-grade reader that is not well known in this country, but is one of those unassuming treasures that have the power to grip children. Adults will also not be immune to its lure. The Wildings is the type of book which is a wonderful comfort-read on a cold, dark winter’s day, as your imagination drifts off into a circuitous route around the Nizamuddin, slipping in and out of the dappled shade of the Neem trees.

The Wildings can be quietly read, curled up on a comfy chair, or out loud, because both kinds of audience cannot fail to find themselves feeling what it is like to creep through undergrowth, bound up and down ruined walls and stairs that lead to bowls of delicious food, or hunt for their daily meal.

This is the world through the eyes of animals and birds, where all the senses are engaged. The smells and sights of the Nizamuddin are relayed in loving detail through a most immersive and extended burst of energetic writing.

Although the kittens are particularly adorable the writing is never sentimental, choosing instead to concentrate on the developing relationships of Southpaw, the wild kitten, and Mara, the house kitten, as they explore the world around them.

Peril is never far away and has to be resolved by all the cats, who have their part to play in making the story a rich experience that a reader will want to return to as soon as they’ve put the book down.

As with all classics, this is a book that has to be bought again before handing on to the next generation, because the original has fallen apart from so much use.

The Wildings was courtesy of Pushkin Press via NetGalley

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