Castaway Mountain: Love and Loss Among the Waterpickers of Mumbai; Saumya Roy

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All of Mumbai's memories and possessions come to die at the Deonar garbage mountains at the city's outskirts. In this graveyard of castaway belongings, among the vast, teetering piles of discarded items--medical waste, rotten food, old clothes, broken glass, and twisted metal--lives a small, forgotten community of ragpickers. In this sweeping narrative, Saumya Roy follows the life of Farzana, a girl who was born in Deonar, and her community that lives off other people's waste. Infused with superstition and magical realism, we learn of growing up amid the spirits of things and people sent there to die, a love story born from moonlit nights walking atop these mountains, and finding hope and beauty in this desolate landscape. But as time passes, the community's way of life becomes more and more precarious. In 2016, the mountains caught fire, forcing Mumbai to reckon with its waste mismanagement. As officials now try to close the dumping grounds, the people of Deonar are more vulnerable than ever. A modern parable exploring the consequences of urban pollution and the global impact of overconsumption, The Mountain of Castaway Belongings delivers a moving testament to the dire necessity of environmentalism, and how love and dignity can blossom in even the darkest, most desperate places.

September 7, 2021

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