Tokyo Cancelled

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Overview

"Thirteen passengers are stranded at an airport. Tokyo, their destination, is covered in snow and all flights are cancelled. To pass the night they form a huddle by the silent baggage carousels and tell each other stories." Robert De Niro's child, conceived in a laundromat, masters the transubstantiation of matter and turns it against his enemies; a Ukrainian merchant is led by a wingless bird back to a lost lover; a man who edits other people's memories has to confront his own past; a Chinese youth with amazing luck cuts men's hair and cleans
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Tokyo Cancelled

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Overview

"Thirteen passengers are stranded at an airport. Tokyo, their destination, is covered in snow and all flights are cancelled. To pass the night they form a huddle by the silent baggage carousels and tell each other stories." Robert De Niro's child, conceived in a laundromat, masters the transubstantiation of matter and turns it against his enemies; a Ukrainian merchant is led by a wingless bird back to a lost lover; a man who edits other people's memories has to confront his own past; a Chinese youth with amazing luck cuts men's hair and cleans their ears; an entrepreneur risks losing everything in his obsession with a doll; a mute Turkish girl is left all alone in the house of a German cartographer. Told by people on a journey, these are stories about lives in transit. Stories from the great cities - New York, Istanbul, Delhi, Lagos, Paris, Buenos Aires - that grow into a novel about the hopes and dreams and disappointments that connect people everywhere.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dasgupta spins a self-consciously modern tapestry of freewheeling fantasies and subverted fairy tales with his ambitious first book. When a severe blizzard in Tokyo diverts a 747 to a remote airport, the stranded passengers gather around the baggage carousel to trade the sort of stories that strangers don't typically swap, unless one's fellow travelers are Beckett and Borges. Refracting the contemporary world's metropolises through a dystopian once-upon-a-time sensibility, Dasgupta tackles themes of transit, dislocation and uprootedness. His critique of consumerism and the global economy can be humorous: in "The Store on Madison Avenue," Robert de Niro's half-Chinese illegitimate son, Pavel, unites with Martin Scorsese and Isabella Rossellini's love child, who eats a magic box of Oreo cookies that transforms her into an upscale New York boutique. Dasgupta takes a more didactic tone in "The Memory Editor," about the prodigal son of an investment banker who goes to work for a corporate enterprise called "MyPast ," which gathers and markets ejected memories when a London of the near future literally loses its sense of history. Other tales discover poignant moments of connection, as when a wingless bird hobbles across Europe to reunite two lost lovers. Though Dasgupta's postmodern stories can be too pat, his sprawling, experimental project achieves an exotic luster. Agent, Jennifer Joel. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this "global citizen narrative" (the Wall Street Journal Asia), a veritable Canterbury Tales worth of passengers swap stories when their flight to Tokyo is cancelled. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thirteen travelers stranded in an Asian airport spin 13 fantastical tales to while away the long night. In what is billed as a first novel but which readers are more likely to see as so many loosely knit stories, a snowstorm in Tokyo forces an international flight to put down at an airport somewhere in Asian flyover country. All but 13 of the passengers find lodging in a nearby city where a summit meeting has attracted armies of reporters and protesters, leaving bookings unusually tight. When the airport employees abandon the unbooked to spend a sleepless night in waiting-room chairs, the travelers huddle together and agree to the proposal of a Japanese salaryman to amuse each other with stories. By stupendous coincidence, everyone in the group has at the ready a slightly fabulous yarn for the telling. Such unity as there is to these tales comes from the multinational Dasgupta's ability to insert in most of the fables some form of magic suitable for a 21st century already full of wireless conveniences and stupendous TV screens. In the first, a provincial tailor is unlucky enough to be landed with a visit from a carload of dissolute Saudi-ish aristocrats, whose princely leader admires the tailor's work enough to order up an outfit so luxurious that it bankrupts its maker and turns out to be undeliverable. In one of the longer tales, an Indian techno-zillionaire with the rupees to buy fertility for his sterile Bollywood-star wife becomes the father of twins whom he separates at birth when he finds the male twin too physically grotesque to keep. The beautiful female twin, fecund in the extreme, unites under profoundly weird circumstances with her brother after he has become a bizarre TVstar. In another story of child abandonment, an unwanted baby becomes a seamstress whose beautifully stitched bedcovers have miraculous powers, goes to work and falls disastrously in love in an S&M bordello in Warsaw. And, finally, a Bangladeshi seaman coughs up a bird that walks across Europe to find the seaman's ladylove. Pleasantly weird, but not electrifying.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802170095
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 977,810
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.04 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2005

    The author shows promise

    This book wasn¿t what I thought it was going to be. I had listened to the review on Fresh Aire and I was intrigued (although I wish I had read the reviews here, they seem more accurate). Tokyo Cancelled is such a great title for a book and the premise about 13 passengers telling stories is excellent. The Tailor¿s Story is the gem of the book and it¿s good that it is the first one. Rana Dasgupta¿s writing style is lyric and beautiful and heartbreaking in the story. (I wish he would write more like this one!) Although the premise is a fantasy, the frame of the story which is that 13 strangers are telling these stories in public, out-loud, to each other, in Japan, is completely unbelievable when you take into account the content of the other stories. The Billionaire¿s Story ends with an explicit description of sex. The House of the Frankfurt Mapmaker describes a naked woman intimately. The Story on Madison Avenue begins with adult activities with Robert Deniro. (I should tell you that I stopped with the Fifth Story, because the book seemed just too bizarre.) There is no doubt that Mr. Dasgupta is an excellent writer, I simply wish that his next book is less sensational and more in tune with the style of The Tailor¿s Story. This book is more aptly described as an odd, sexy, summer novel. Take it to the beach with you if you want summer read that is unlike anything else.

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