A matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna is a story that explores the nook and cranny of Patna. It takes the reader for a journey that does not limit only to the past of the city but also the present day way of living. Authored by Amitava Kumar, who grew up in Patna, the book brings out the vivid and happy life in one of the poorest cities of the country.
The book explores the ruins of the city and its causes and how people over there find their own ways to thrive bringing out the beauty of life making the most out of it. Patna, once called Pataliputra, is a house to innumerable rats. The first few lines of the book have rats burrowing under the railway track. Various beliefs about the rats surmount the city; the nurses play radio at night in the hospital believing that it would stop the rats from nibbling at their toes, rats steal personal objects; rats drink illegal alcohol; people belonging to the caste known as Musaharas eats rats, and according to the Principal Secretary in the Department of Rural Development, having rat meat on the menu of restaurants will changes the views about the Musaharas. The author has metaphorically very well used the rats to describe the indigenous lives of Patna.
The book explores the fascinating myriad cities locked within the city. Going through the lanes of the lives, you will get an insight to their lives, that this shabby, poor, infamous city is also challenging, enduring, impressive. But the one thing that builds an intriguing factor to the book is the three lives in Patna that the author explained: one who was born in the city and then left, one who could never leave and one whose only concern is life and death.
The book is an emotional journey that takes the reader for a roller coaster ride of the city's highs and lows. Amitava Kumar has even expressed his admiration for the rats in the city who were born in the city and never left, and who have also managed to grow. The author is a poet, novelist, journalist and also an English professor. Some of his well known books are Nobody does the right thing and A foreigner carrying in the crook of his arm a tiny bomb. You can order online the hardcover published by Aleph Book Company with the ISBN-10: 9382277226 and ISBN-13: 978-9382277224.