Ajay and the Mumbai Sun
by Varsha Shah
Shortlisted Little Rebels Award 2023
Ajay and his friends have grown up on the fringes of society, making ends meet on the Mumbai railways. 'All' he wants is to make it as a journalist, but few believe a slum child like Ajay can cut it as a writer. With no one to give him a break, he and his friends come together to pool their meagre possessions and their boundless creativity to launch The Mumbai Sun- a project which leads to a powerful exposé of child labour, social inequalities, corruption, the criminality inherent in so much fast fashon and brazen western hypocrisy. Deft touches to make this narrative utterly contemporary includes the comparison of the unsafe factory conditions in Mumbai to those behind the Grenfell Tower fire. Likewise, villainous 'Mr Z' is a Bollygarch who lives in London, immune to prosecution. These details ensure that political corruption isn't seen as a disease which just contaminates remote, 'over there' places; instead it lives much closer to home. Packed with social justice issues, this galloping-along narrative is also highly readable and centres the optimism, ambition and kindness of young people. There are also, of course, pauses for cricket matches. Age 9-12, Paperback 282pp
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