Castaway Mountain

Castaway Mountain book jacket.

Saumya Roy (MSJ02)

“Castaway Mountain” is a narrative non fiction book on the Deonar garbage mountains of Mumbai and the waste pickers who live off them. It follows the life of Farzana Shaikh, a teenaged waste picker, over eight years as she found toys, snacks, jeans, friends and love on these mountains. Among the most fearless pickers in her community, Farzana works on, looking for forgotten treasures amid the trash even as the mountains make her sicker. Through her, Castaway Mountain tells a story of overconsumption, pollution, climate change and how the poor and marginalized face the brunt of it all.

Farzana’s story is interspersed with that of a court case to close down the garbage mountains- one that has stretched on for three decades, while the mountains have only grown taller, erupted in fires and spewed noxious air. Castaway Mountains is about the unspoken trauma of living in places like this and how this trauma is expressed through ancient myths pickers have heard of, through their scarred bodies and how it lingers, subconsciously, in their minds.  It is a beautiful story of light and life amidst darkness, one that will grip readers and move them.