Special Collections Featured Book for November
HSL Medical Humanities/3rd Floor Special Collections
Author James Levine, a Mayo Clinic physician, was intrigued when he observed one of Mumbai’s child prostitutes writing in a notebook. Inspired, Levine writes a tragic and brutal portrayal of Batuk, a child forced into sex work at age 9. Through a twist of fate, Batuk learns to read and write while hospitalized for tuberculosis treatment as a young girl and we learn of her life through her own journal. A strange mix of girlish denial (she “makes sweet cakes” – her synonym for servicing customers) and worldliness (she manipulates an admirer for a pencil), provides resilience, and she survives the nightmare of the “Street of Cages.” Her literacy separates her from others in her sphere, but the hope of escape from poverty and exploitation is overshadowed by the health risks and danger of her work. Health professionals reading this work cannot miss the subtle signs of her ultimate fate.
[Lynne Fox, Education Librarian]