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The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing

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By the award-winning writer of Beautiful Thing, The Good Girls is a masterly inquest into how the mysterious deaths of two teenage girls shone a light into the darkest corners of a nation.

On a summer night in 2014, Padma and Lalli went missing from Katra Sadatganj, an eye-blink of a village in western Uttar Pradesh. Hours later they were found hanging in the orchard behind their home. Who they were, and what had happened to them, was already less important than what their disappearance meant to the people left behind.

Slipping deftly behind political maneuvering, caste systems and codes of honor in a village in northern India, The Good Girls returns to the scene of their short lives and shameful deaths, and dares to ask: What is the human cost of shame?

ISBN-13: 9780802158208

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Grove/Atlantic Inc.

Publication Date: 02-09-2021

Pages: 314

Product Dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Sonia Faleiro is the author of Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars, which was named a book of the year by The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, NPR and The Economist, and a novella, The Girl. She is a co-founder of Deca, a cooperative of award-winning writers creating narrative journalism about the world. Her work has been supported by the Pulitzer Centre and The Investigative Fund, and appears in the New York Times, The Financial Times, Granta, 1843, The California Sunday Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and Harper's. She lives in London.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Good Days Are Coming Soon xix

Rabi: Spring, 2014

An Accusation Is Made 3

Lalli's Father Buys a Phone 8

Cousin Manju Observes Something Strange 11

Nazru Sees It Too 16

Unspeakable Things 19

The Naughty Boy 24

The Invisible Women 27

Lalli Asks for a Memento 29

The Fair Comes to the Village 32

Padma Lalli, Gone 38

Thieves in the Tobacco 42

Where Are They? 46

Every Eight Minutes 49

Jeevan Lal's Secret 52

Adrenaline in the Fields, Tears at Home 54

Nazru Changes His Story, Again 57

'Bastards, Go Look for Them Yourselves' 62

A Finger Is Pointed 66

Sohan Lal Storms Out 71

Finally, News 73

'An Unspeakable Sight' 76

A Policeman's Suspicion 78

The Poster Child for a New India 83

A Reporter's Big Break 87

The Matter Will End' 91

The First Politician Arrives 96

The Matter Should Be Settled 100

Someone to Solve Their Problems 102

The Politician's Aide 108

'Liars, Thieves and Fucking Scum' 113

Cable Wars in the Katra Fields 118

Complaints Are Written, Then Torn 123

The Bodies Come Down 127

A Sweeper and a 'Weaker' Doctor 132

The Post-Mortem 136

Farewell Padma Lalli 140

Kharif: Summer, 2014

The Worst Place in the World 147

The Women Who Changed India 154

The Zero Tolerance Policy 160

A Broken System Exposed 164

Separate Milk From Water 170

A Red Flag 176

The Villagers Talk 179

The False Eyewitness 183

Purity and Pollution 187

A Post-mortem Undone 192

'Habitual of Sexual Intercourse' 196

A Mother Goes 'Mad' 200

Visitors to the Jail 203

The Case of the Missing Phones 208

The Truth About the Phone 214

'She Is All I Have' 217

'There Is No Need to Go Here and There' 223

'Did You Kill Padma and Lalli?' 227

'Machines Don't Lie' 232

'Have You Ever Been in Love?' 235


Results and Rumours 243

The Rogue Officer 249

Friends, Not Strangers 254

Pappu and Nazru Face to Face 259

'Girls Are Honour of Family 264

Pappu in Jail, the Shakyas in Court 270


Birth 273

Rebirth 278

Love, Hope, Vote 280

Author's Note 285

Notes 292

Acknowledgements 311

Bibliography 313