Coolie (1936) by Mulk Raj Anand gives a clear and poignant description of the poor face of India, telling the story of a 15-year-old boy who has to work as a child labourer and eventually dies of tuberculosis. It is the story of Munoo who is forced to leave his village out of necessity and poverty to work in the city as a child labourer. The novel shows his adventures and escapades as he works as a servant, factory worker, rickshaw driver far away from his home. The story is told from the eyes of the narrator and brings to light the inevitable and hidden evils of the Raj, right from exploitation, caste ridden society, communal riots, and police injustice. The novel takes us to different places and cities showing the inhuman and degrading treatment that the poor Munoo gets at the hands of the socially, economically, and politically affluent and higher classes of Indian society and how he copes with all circumstances alone. Anand was able to strike a cord in the hearts of the conscientious indians with the beautiful and real to life portrayal of the down trodden masses of Indian society,the so called have nots.
Mulk Raj Anand was much appreciated and recognized for this novel and was one of those people who were highly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. And this influence is clearly seen in all his works including Coolie. True to his Marxist spirit, he always portrayed the real India, and more specifically the poor India. He is also regarded as one of the first Indian writers in English who started the trend of using Hindi and Punjabi phrases in his writings to enrich and enhance the language. Also caled the Charles Dickens of India by many literary figures, Anand's novels deal with the underdog. Coolie is one classic example of the story of the underprevileged class of the society and of the oppressed people who cannot even make both ends meet.