City of Joy
is a novel written by Dominique Lapierre
(1985) and a 1992 film directed by Roland Joffé
The story revolves around the trials and tribulations of a young Polish priest, Stephan Kovalski, the hardships endured by a rickshaw
puller, Hasari Pal (the sufferer) in Calcutta
the experiences of a young, American doctor, Max Lowe.
Father Stephan joins a religious order whose vows put them in the most hellish places on earth. He chooses not only to serve the poorest of the poor in Calcutta but also to live with them, starve with them, and if God wills it, die with them. In the journey of Kovalski's acceptance as the Big Brother for the slum dwellers, he encounters moments of everyday miracles in the midst of apalling poverty and ignorance. The slum dwellers are ignored and exploited by society and authorities of power are not without their own prejudices. This becomes evident by their attitude towards the lepers and the continuation of the caste system.
The story also explores how a peasant farmer Hasari Pal arrives in Calcutta with his family after a drought wipes out the farming village where his family has lived for generations.
The third main character is that of a rich American doctor who has just finished med school and wants to do something with purpose before opening up his practice catering to the wealthy.
The book chronicles not only the separation of the wealthy from the poor but the separation of the different levels of poverty, caste... Read More