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Micro review: ‘Mountain Tales’ by Soumya Roy – Times of India

Journalist-activist Soumya Roy’s first book ‘Mountain Tales: Love and Loss in the Municipality of Castaway Belongings’ was released in August 2021. In this book, Roy chronicles the lives of often neglected rag pickers living in Mumbai’s Deonar landfill, a world in itself.

Mumbai’s Deonar landfill has been around for 122 years and contains lakhs of tonnes of waste spread over 314 acres of land. The shocking thing is that some of these garbage dumps are up to 18 floors high! Yet little is known about it or the people who lived there. In her book ‘Mountain Tales’, Roy explores the lives of people living in these dumping grounds who have made a living by recycling, reselling or reusing waste. In this book, Roy tells the story of Farzana Shaikh, a teenage rag picker who lives in the Deonar landfill, and how she finds toys, clothes, food, friendship and love – all these garbage mountains – thrown away over the years. While this is the story of the rag pickers of Maximum City, it is through their lives that Roy sheds light on the impact of urbanisation, over-consumption, pollution and waste (mis)management on the poorest of the poorest in our society.

Roy writes this piece of nonfiction with the utmost care and empathy. It is not just the story of the history of Deonar and its social and legal issues but it is also about the lives of the people living there who play an invisible but important role in our lives. While the book focuses on the garbage mountains of Mumbai and the rag pickers who live there, it deals with a topic that is globally relevant in our times. Not only this, apart from being released in India, the US and the UK, the book will also be translated and released in China. This powerful book will make readers reflect on their lives and how one person’s trash can affect other people’s lives.


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