Winner of 2012 South Asia Prize
Set against the Japanese advance on India during the Second World War, The Skinning Tree centers on nine-year-old Sabby, who lives in a Calcutta family where sophisticated British habits such as bridge and dinner parties co-exist with Indian values and nationalism. When Sabby is sent to a boarding school in northern India, he witnesses a strict regime in which the schoolboys are beaten and brutalized by the teachers.
The boys themselves take on their abusers' cruel traits, mindlessly killing animals and hanging their skins on a cactus, before their thoughts turn to even more sinister schemes. Conspiratorial whisperings and plans of revenge spiral into a tragedy engulfing Sabby in a chilling exploration of human nature's darkest facets.