Jai drools outside sweet shops, watches too many reality police shows, and considers himself to be smarter than his friends. When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. Together with his friends, they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit.
In Jai, Anappara has created a boy vivid in his humanity, one whose voice somersaults on the page. Rich with easy joy, Anappara’s writing announces the arrival of a literary supernova ... Telling a story from the perspective of a child always risks a descent into sentimentality. There’s not a lick of it here ... We marvel at...threads, so vibrantly woven by Anappara ... This is the power of this novel, how it keeps us grounded—not in the flats of the hi-fi dwellers but in something closer to India’s heart, which she locates in the minds of children with bony shoulders and dirty feet.
Sometimes, voice is all ... it’s their singular voices that give...characters their life and complexity. So it is with Jai, a 9-year-old Indian boy who’s the narrator and main character of Deepa Anappara’s extraordinary debut novel ... The moving and unpredictable novel Anappara wrote defies easy classification. Given the sometimes capricious exploits of its young investigators, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line could conceivably be shelved in the YA section ... Yet, the tale darkens into urban noir as it reaches its awful conclusion. By story’s end, Jai has grown more hesitant, humbled by tragedy and evils beyond his once-childish imaginings, Even so, his remarkable voice retains a stubborn lightness, a will to believe in the possibility of deliverance in this fallen world.
Like its nine-year-old narrator, Jai...Djinn Patrol, too, shape-shifts, matures from genre to genre: a murder mystery, a high-stakes detective story, a coming-of-age story, crime fiction, political satire. The plot is simple and more or less progresses straightforwardly ... it’s what Anappara does with language(s) that makes Djinn Patrol utterly and wholly distinctive, inventive, and immersive ... As a bilingual speaker and reader of Hindi and English, this felt like a bonus: to 'get' the cues, clues, and cultural references; to always nod along in recognition; enjoy plenty of 'Aha!' moments; and, most considerately, to not have one’s culture explained to oneself ... Anappara’s Jai is endearing, entertaining, and earnest; he keeps you on the edge of your seat ... What a child narrator affords Anappara is the ability to write about institutional injustice and negligence, unimaginable atrocities and harsh lived-realities ... And for this, we can hold Deepa Anappara’s story close to our hearts.