When 20 year-old Baby returns from Delhi to West Bengal to care for her ailing mother, the people in her village shun her. Her accent is cosmopolitan, her clothes are too revealing, and “she behaves like she has money now,” whisper her fellow Santhals, members of one of India’s most insular and historically persecuted tribes. But when Baby falls in love with Khaleque, an outsider and a Muslim, rural gossip explodes into shocking violence, and Baby faces a moment beyond anyone’s worst fears. Brutally gang-raped by 13 villagers as punishment for loving the wrong man, Baby has nowhere to turn. Her neighbors deny that the crime happened, and Santhal activists, hardened from centuries of repression, rush to her attackers’ defense. With her story suddenly on front pages across India, Baby’s search for justice comes into terrible conflict with the fate of her people, sparking a tense fight over the tribal right to self-govern in the world’s largest democracy.
With 13 Men, journalist Sonia Faleiro, author of the bestseller Beautiful Thing: Inside The Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars, has written a 21st-century, international heir to In Cold Blood—at once a shocking reconstruction of how an isolated village took brutal revenge on one of its own, and a hard look at the scourge of rape in India. Despite a string of high-profile crimes igniting a national conversation in India about violence against women, reports of rape enrage the public and are then forgotten. Just as Baby’s case slipped out of the news, Faleiro traveled to West Bengal, where she conducted dozens of interviews with villagers, politicians, lawyers, activists, and the victim herself. Elegantly written and fearlessly reported, 13 Men investigates one of India’s most shocking crimes, taking readers deep into one besieged tribal community in a heart-wrenching, moment-by-moment account of the crime and its aftermath.
EARLY PRAISE FOR 13 MEN
“Sonia Faleiro is becoming a genre in doing what so few are able to or want to, in peeling back layers of the truth in a republic where there are few reliable metrics for measuring it.”
—Adrian Levy, co-author, The Siege: Three Days of Terror Inside the Taj
PRAISE FOR SONIA FALEIRO’S BEAUTIFUL THING
"[An] intimate and valuable book of literary reportage that will break your heart."
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"Reporting at its best."
“A magnificent book of reportage that is also endowed with all the terror and beauty of art.”
—Kiran Desai, author of The Inheritance of Loss
“A small masterpiece of observation.”
—William Dalrymple, author of Nine Lives
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sonia Faleiro is a founding member of Deca and the author of Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars, acclaimed as one of NPR's Five Best Travel Memoirs of 2012. It was named a best book of the year by The Economist, The Guardian, The San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus, and The Observer. It was CNN's Mumbai Book of the Year, Time Out’s Subcontinental Book of the Year, and The Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year. The book has been published worldwide and translated into several languages, including Hindi, French, Polish, Swedish and Dutch. In 2011 Sonia was awarded the Karmaveer Puraskaar for Social Justice “for drawing attention to India's most vulnerable and writing about them with sensitivity, humanity and integrity.” Sonia was born in Goa, India and now divides her time between London and Bangalore.
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