A Son of the Circus

( 28 )

Overview

Born a Parsi in Bombay, sent to university and medical school in Vienna, Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla is a 59-year-old orthopedic surgeon and a Canadian citizen who lives in Toronto. Periodically, the doctor returns to Bombay, where most of his patients are crippled children. Once, 20 years ago, Dr. Daruwalla was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa. Now, 20 years later, he will be reacquainted with the murderer.

Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla, reared in Bombay, ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$13.48
BN.com price
(Save 20%)$17.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (50) from $1.99   
  • New (13) from $5.10   
  • Used (37) from $1.99   
A Son of the Circus

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

Born a Parsi in Bombay, sent to university and medical school in Vienna, Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla is a 59-year-old orthopedic surgeon and a Canadian citizen who lives in Toronto. Periodically, the doctor returns to Bombay, where most of his patients are crippled children. Once, 20 years ago, Dr. Daruwalla was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa. Now, 20 years later, he will be reacquainted with the murderer.

Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla, reared in Bombay, educated in Vienna, and long a resident of Toronto, is a 59-year-old without a country, culture, or religion to call his own. . . Irving's imagined India, which Daruwalla visits periodically . . . [is] a land of energetic colliding egos, of modern media clashing with ancient cultures, of broken sexual boundaries.-- New York Newsday.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though there are flashes here of the dramatic verve of The World According to Garp and Cider House Rules , Irving's long-awaited eighth novel is generally a tedious affair: rambling; lacking suspense; devoid of energetic or lyric prose; sometimes verging on farce and other times almost as lethargic as the sultry atmosphere of Bombay, where it is set. Here Irving is concerned again with people who do not feel at home in the world: immigrants, social outcasts, pariahs because of physical handicaps, those uncomfortable with their sexual orientation. The characters include a Bombay-born physician and secret screenwriter who feels as much a foreigner in India as he does in his new home, Toronto; a movie star who is synonymous with the role he plays; his twin brother, who aspires to be a priest but doubts his vocation; assorted circus performers, dwarfs and cripples, prostitutes, transsexuals, policemen, Hollywood figures, a blonde American hippie, Jesuit missionaries and more sad folk teeming with strange quirks and shameful secrets. The plot revolves around the murders of prostitutes by a transsexual serial killer, who carves a winking elephant on their bodies, and the legacies from the past that bring the main characters to the hunt for the murderer. The hefty narrative gives Irving plenty of room to speculate on outcasts of all kinds, the volatility of sexual identity, the false lure of organized religion, the insidious evil of class distinctions, the chasm between appearance and reality. For those looking for his trademark leitmotifs, Irving provides two: falling into the net and allowed to use the lift . He titillates by equipping a character with a giant dildo. He includes a strange homage to novelist James Salter. His attempt to provoke readers into empathy for humanity's lost souls is admirable, but his novel does not engage the reader until the last hundred pages, and that may not be soon enough to satisfy those yearning for a seductive story. Sept.
Library Journal
A circus displays oddity and spectacle for our amusement. Irving wields his absurdist ideas, set forth in works like A Prayer for Owen Meany LJ 3/15/89, to create a world with much the same feel. The setting is India, though there is little sense of locale a circus being universal and transportable. At center stage is Farrokh Daruwalla, an alienated, middle-aged, Bombay-born doctor who returns to his birthplace to study circus dwarfs. Farrokh becomes entangled in a case involving a serial murderer who carves the image of a winking elephant on his victims' torsos. This storyline bounces around like the proverbial three-ring circus and features a cast of eunuchs, hippies, movie stars, transsexuals, and clergymen. Irving continues his obsession with potency erections and negation mutilation and self-mutilation using, for instance, a large hollow dildo as a central prop. This otherwise enjoyable read is hindered at times by a lethargic pace and lack of dramatic tension. Although not Irving's best, this long-awaited novel will be in high demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/94.]-David Nudo, "Library Journal"
From the Publisher
"A comical, contemplative thriller as richly woven as the finest of Indian carpets.... [The] novel to beat for the year's most rewarding read."
The Toronto Star

"His most daring and most vibrant novel.... The story of circus-as-India is told with gusto and delightful irreverence."
The Washington Post Book World

"Startling, haunting, flawless, unforgettable."
The Edmonton Journal

"Breathtaking.... An epic tale of deception, murder, obsession and sexual confusion, Irving introduces some of his most memorable characters since Garp."
The Winnipeg Free Press

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345417992
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 399,453
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

John Irving
Born in New Hampshire, John Irving is the author of several novels. Mr. Irving is married and has three sons; he lives in Vermont and in Toronto.

Biography

It was as a struggling, withdrawn student at Phillips Exeter, the New Hampshire prep school where his stepfather taught Russian history, that John Irving discovered the two great loves of his life: writing and wrestling. Modestly, he attributes his success in both endeavors to dogged perseverance. "My life in wrestling was one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline," he confessed in his 1996 mini-memoir The Imaginary Girlfriend. "I believe that my life as a writer consists of one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline, too."

Certainly, patience and stamina have served Irving well -- in both wrestling (he competed until he was 34, coached well into his 40s, and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992) and writing. His first book, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968 to respectable reviews but sold poorly. Over the course of the next ten years, he wrote two more unsuccessful novels (The Water-Method Man and The 158-Pound Marriage).

Then, in 1978, Irving hit the jackpot with The World According to Garp, a freewheeling comic saga incorporating motifs he would revisit many times over -- feminism, adultery, violence, grotesquerie, and an overriding sense of impending doom. Garp received a National Book Award nomination and became an instant cult classic. It also paved the way for a string of bestsellers, including The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and The Fourth Hand, to name a few.

While none of his novels are strictly autobiographical, Irving has never denied that certain elements from his life have seeped into his books, most notably the pervading "presence" of his biological father, John Wallace Blunt, a man Irving never knew. Raised by his mother and a stepfather he loved dearly, Irving had denied for years any curiosity about his absent parent, but the figure of the missing father haunted his writing like a specter. In 2005, he laid the ghost to rest with the publication of Until I Find You, a searing story that took shape slowly and painfully over the better part of a decade. Writing the novel also allowed the author to wrestle with a closely guarded secret from his past -- just like the novel's protagonist Jack Burns, Irving was sexually abused as a preteen by an older woman. In an eerily timed coincidence, while he was crafting the novel, Irving was contacted by a man named Chris Blunt, who identified himself as the son of Irving's biological father. Twenty years younger than Irving, his half-brother told Irving that their father had died in 1995. Although Irving was devastated by the experience, he now feels as if he is able to turn the page and move on.

In addition to his novels, Irving has also written a collection of short stories and essays (1995's Trying to Save Piggy Sneed) and several screenplays, including his Oscar-winning adaptation of The Cider House Rules. He chronicled the experience of bringing his novel to the screen in the 1999 memoir My Movie Business.

Good To Know

  • Irving struggled in school with a learning disability that was probably undiagnosed dyslexia. Today, he considers it something of a blessing. Forced to read slowly, he savored each word and literally fell in love with language and literature.

  • In a 2001 interview with the now-defunct Book magazine, Irving confessed, "The characters in my novels, from the very first one, are always on some quixotic effort of attempting to control something that is uncontrollable -- some element of the world that is essentially random and out of control."

  • Although the results have been mixed at best, film versions have been made of several Irving novels, including The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, and The Cider House Rules, which won for Irving a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. In addition, the movie Simon Birch was loosely based on A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and the first third of Irving's novel A Widow for One Year became the acclaimed film The Door in the Floor.

  • One of Irving's great literary influences was Kurt Vonnegut, his teacher and mentor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The two writers remained close friends until Vonnegut's death in 2007.

  • Irving has two tattoos: a maple leaf (in honor of his Canadian wife) on his left shoulder, and the starting circle of a wrestling match on his right forearm.

  • The influence of Charles Dickens is evident in Irving's novels, sprawling epics with huge casts of colorful, eccentric characters and lots of complex plot points that crop up, disappear for hundreds of pages, then resurface unexpectedly. He writes voluminously and in great detail; he refuses to use a computer; and he begins at the end, writing the last sentence of each novel first. He describes himself as a craftsman and claims that he owes his success more to rewrites, ruthless editing, and infinite patience than to artistic genius.

  • Read More Show Less
      1. Also Known As:
        John Wallace Blunt, Jr.
      2. Hometown:
        Vermont
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 2, 1942
      2. Place of Birth:
        Exeter, New Hampshire
      1. Education:
        B.A., University of New Hampshire, 1965; also studied at University of Vienna; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop, 1967

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 28 )
    Rating Distribution

    5 Star

    (12)

    4 Star

    (7)

    3 Star

    (6)

    2 Star

    (2)

    1 Star

    (1)

    Your Rating:

    Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

    Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

    Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

    Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

    We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

    What to exclude from your review:

    Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

    Reviews should not contain any of the following:

    • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
    • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
    • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
    • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
    • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
    • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
    • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

    Reminder:

    • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
    • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
    • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
    Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

    Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

    Create a Pen Name

    Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

     
    Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

    Continue Anonymously
    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted April 19, 2011

      great read

      if you enjoyed A prayer for Owen Meany then this is the book for you

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted June 20, 2012

      Highly recommended

      This book is as great as "The World According to Garp" or "A Prayer for Owen Meany." Since it is one of my favorites, I put a copy on my Nook because it's much easier to read thick books from the Noon than having it propped on your stomach! As with all of John Irving's books, the story is captivating. Read it!

      1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted May 19, 2009

      A Son of the Circus by John Irving

      Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla, an Indian orthopedic surgeon living in Canada, sporadically returns to his native country in order to revisit the circus. Even though he was born in India, he just doesn't feel at home there. He is constantly discriminated against because of his skin color, and the only place he enjoys being at is the circus. On one of his trips back to India, he becomes involved in the investigation concerning a serial killer. The killer's M.O. is the same as two bodies Farrokh had inspected years earlier and he is immersed in the search for answers. However, the killer may be closer to him than he realizes.
      John Irving has a unique way of explaining his story plot. He begins his book by diving directly into the story. As he progresses, chapters are set aside that are set in the past in order to explain the events that Irving has unfolded. As he explains a certain key point in the plot, the next chapter goes in depth on the specific aspects of that scene in order to provide insightful information to the setting.
      While the novel may be confusing at times, it is easier to understand later once the explanation has been read. A Son of the Circus almost seems to be written out of order in the way the story seems to jump around. However, as the plot is revealed, it is easier to become familiar with the format and adjust accordingly. By writing in this fashion, Irving is able to relay the story without giving away any spoilers. In doing so, the novel is able to be read in a different style and is viewed in a different light.
      John Irving writes with a care free style while, at the same time, providing a more mature way of seeing the world. He emphasizes the harshness of living and the hardships people of different cultures experience. Racism, sexism, and many other types of discrimination are displayed in his novel. Irving provides countless examples of the difficulties of being different and shows how to become a better person. By providing an array of characters from cripples to prostitutes, Irving is able to capture the true nature of humanity to its core.
      A Son of the Circus is directed at adults or young adults and can be somewhat crude in its style of writing. This actually adds to the reality of the storyline and provides an interesting new view on reading. By including vulgar comments and scenes, Irving is able to display the harsh setting people in the slums of Bombay experience. In effect, Irving shows the soft spots of society by emphasizing the rough spots. Irving's writing style is completely his own and is able to portray the very essence of the picture he is trying to create.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 24, 2003

      Disappoints after Cider House Rules and Garp

      Kindof disappointing actually. John Irving says he has never been to Bombay..I guess that's why he did such a pathetic job of describing it. The storyline was quite intriguing really, though the overall effect was spoilt thanks to his totally inaccurate descriptions of Bbay. Don't get me wrong...the plot, characters et all are well-described in Irving's wonderful style. But if you're an Indian who knows the real Bombay, then you probably won't enjoy this so much..but otherwise...its worth a read, at least for Irving fans.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted February 12, 2002

      A quiet hero and a fascinating plot

      John Irving is like a circus juggler balancing plates in the air while riding a unicycle on a tightrope. This novel (one of my all-time favorites) contains no less than 4 distinct interdependent subplots. He clearly loves his protagonist, the mild-mannered Farrokh. Dhar is an intriguing and impenetrable sex symbol. Nancy is a tragic heroine, with Vijay Patel her rock-like savior. The trick to enjoying this novel is staying in it--not pulling back to ask 'What is going on here?' The author weaves in and out among his characters and their situations, and expertly links present and past. I think the reason this book succeeds so well is that it reflects reality. We are all products of the past working unseen in the background of the present. Too bad there's so much unrest in India these days--the descriptions of Bombay make one thirst to visit. This is one novel that could never be made into a movie.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted August 26, 2001

      If off-beat is you'r thing.

      Being a John Irving fan may help as one wades through this 600+ page book. I found it an interesting glimps inside India and was never bored and often surprised. The only fault I could find was a rather unsatisfying 'wrap up' of an ending.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted December 12, 2000

      an Irving gem

      Bombay provides an ideal setting for Irving's usual cast of misfits. Although the author professes to know little about India, he does a marvelous job of describing Bombay, from the smell of the slums to the British colonial remnants. While Son of the Circus is not as touching as some of his other novels, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and hilarious.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted November 3, 2012

      G f xferr

      t

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted November 2, 2012

      more from this reviewer

      A deviation for John Irving

      I love John Irving and have read all of his books. That being said, this was a little hard to get into as the subject matter was so foreign. I really did not like any of the characters until the introduction of Martin Mills. When he came on the scene John Irving was in his element and at his best. I loved the building of this character. But the story kept dragging. The Epilogue was the best part.

      If you are an Irving fan, I would still recommend this book.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted May 27, 2011

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted January 28, 2013

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted June 8, 2009

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted April 8, 2012

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted November 29, 2009

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted July 19, 2011

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted February 7, 2010

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted September 22, 2010

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted March 14, 2011

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted December 1, 2012

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted May 3, 2011

      No text was provided for this review.

    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)