The Cripple and His Talismans

The Cripple and His Talismans

by Anosh Irani
     
 

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Prepare to enter a world where the norms of human behavior—even the rules governing time and gravity—are set on their heads. This dark and wry fable begins with the narrator waking up and discovering he is missing an arm. He has no idea how he lost it or how to find it—but as he searches the chaotic, often surreal streets of Bombay, he meets an…  See more details below

Overview


Prepare to enter a world where the norms of human behavior—even the rules governing time and gravity—are set on their heads. This dark and wry fable begins with the narrator waking up and discovering he is missing an arm. He has no idea how he lost it or how to find it—but as he searches the chaotic, often surreal streets of Bombay, he meets an absurd and marvelous cast of characters who offer him clues: a woman selling rainbows, a beggar living under an egg cart, a coffin maker who builds finger-sized caskets, a giant who lives underwater, a homeless boy riding the rails. They all lead him to Baba Rakhu, master of the underworld, who will reveal the story of his lost arm—for a price.

Funny and wise, violent and tender, The Cripple and His Talismans is an impressive debut. A bestseller in Canada, it has been compared to the works of Samuel Beckett, Lewis Carroll, and Salman Rushdie.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An unnamed narrator searches for his missing arm in a Bombay marked by odd magic and peopled by surreal prophets in Irani's lush debut novel. The protagonist awakes in a hospital with his arm amputated, but with no memory of how he was injured. Thus begins his quest: a search to unravel the mystery of the missing limb that signifies a spiritual journey. A young man of privilege, he forgoes material comforts for an austere existence more fitting for a "novice cripple" and discovers a Bombay he never knew. Various underworld characters offer him cryptic clues: the beggar Gura instructs him to listen to the sounds of the streets for answers, a woman selling rainbows warns him of an evil eye, and a leper gives him a finger, which he carries thereafter in search of its significance. On this colorful journey of self-discovery, the narrator investigates his past and faces his sins. Though the novel's many instructive riddles ("Your eyes see only that which they are meant to") can read as New Agey sound bites, an undercurrent of dark humor as well as Irani's atmospheric evocation of Bombay enliven this compelling story. Agent, Denise Bukowski. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An episodic, magical-realist parable set in Bombay. Form is at least a partial substitute for content in Irani's debut. The storyline traces the unnamed narrator's quest to understand how he came to lose his arm, but it's a modern dreamscape, with strands of narrative coherence strewn across stretches of semi-opaque hallucination. Before becoming "a novice cripple," the central figure lived a privileged life in an apartment by the sea. He drank whiskey, slept with prostitutes-in particular Malaika, whom he claimed to love-never prayed or worked. But since waking up two months ago minus one arm, he has become a lost soul, relocated to a sinking apartment block and driven to seeking direction from misfits and underdogs on the streets. A floating beggar, a woman selling rainbows, and a leper who gives him a finger are among the many characters who offer advice; several mention one Baba Rakhu. The actual and metaphorical journey moves through time as well as space, always with heavy nudges toward atonement. "You need to earn your arm back," says Baba Rakhu when finally unearthed in his "pet dungeon," a repository of severed limbs taken from the unworthy (wife-beaters, for example). Persistent flashbacks to schooldays feature rivalry with a clever boy named Viren, whom the narrator first nearly blinded, then maimed by feeding his hand into a machine. He seeks out Viren, now a successful novelist, and finds he has not been forgiven. Looking next for Malaika, the narrator reveals he beat her up a year ago; soon he learns that she died the next day. Connections among the central figure's justified self-loathing, random viciousness and recent amputation finally fall into place, and he returns toBaba Rakhu to accept the sacrifice of his arm as a means of rejecting his old self. Poetic flights and jests meld uneasily with didacticism in this ambitious, uneven fantasy. Author tour

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565124561
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
04/28/2005
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.44(w) x 8.26(h) x 1.04(d)

Meet the Author


Anosh Irani was born and brought up in Bombay, India, and moved to Vancouver in 1998. He received his M.F.A in creative writing at the University of British Columbia and is currently the playwright in residence at the Arts Club Theatre Company, where he is working on his second novel, The Song of Kahunsha.

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