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Mumbai Noir (Akashic Noir) [Kindle Edition]

Altaf Tyrewala
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Tyrewala’s insightful introduction greatly enhances the reading experience, and the glossary helps, too . . . The collection is astonishingly diverse . . . Tyrewala’s anthology [offers] a sampling of brand-new authors and [a] superb introduction. It might provide a fictional contrast to Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers."
--Library Journal (Starred review)

"Most of the 14 short stories in Akashic’s workmanlike Mumbai volume draw inspiration from the criminal networks and the sordid underbelly the city is infamous for . . . Armchair travelers will find plenty of amusement in touring the seedier parts of this island city in perfect safety."
--Publishers Weekly

“The fifteen contributors to Mumbai Noir . . . provide a cool composite narrative of a unique human-intensive metropolitan system, whose magnitude, complexity, diversity, and pace can hardly be captured in writing or, for that matter, any other medium. [Mumbai Noir is] rich and diverse in character and characterization.”
--Rain Taxi Review of Books

Featuring brand-new stories by: Annie Zaidi, R. Raj Rao, Abbas Tyrewala, Avtar Singh, Ahmed Bunglowala, Smita Harish Jain, Sonia Faleiro, Altaf Tyrewala, Namita Devidayal, Jerry Pinto, Kalpish Ratna, Riaz Mulla, Paromita Vohra, and Devashish Makhija.

Bombay’s communal riots of 1992--in which Hindus were alleged to be the primary perpetrators—were followed by retaliatory bomb blasts in 1993, masterminded by the Muslim-dominated underworld. Over a thousand citizens lost their lives in these internecine bouts of violence and thousands more became refugees in their own city. In a matter of months, Bombay ceased to be the cosmopolitan, wholesome, and middle-class bastion it had been for decades. When the city was renamed Mumbai in 1995, it merely formalized the widespread perception that the Bombay everyone knew and remembered had been lost forever.

Today Mumbai is like any other Asian city on the rise, with gigantic construction cranes winding atop upcoming skyscrapers and malls . . . Right-wing violence, failing electricity and water supplies, overcrowding, and the ever-looming threat of terrorist attacks—these are some of the gruesome ground realities that Mumbai’s middle and working classes must deal with every day, while the city’s super-rich . . . zip from roof to roof in their private choppers. Abandoned by its wealthy, mistreated by its politicians and administrators, Mumbai continues to thrive primarily because of the helpless resilience of its hardworking, upright citizens.

The stories in Mumbai Noir depict the many ways in which the city’s ever-present shadowy aspects often force themselves onto the lives of ordinary people. . . . What emerges is the sense of a city that, despite its new name and triumphant tryst with capitalism, is yet to heal from the wounds of the early '90s, and from all the subsequent acts of havoc wreaked within its precincts by both local and outside forces.

Product Details

  • File Size: 570 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books (February 28, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MGL6PE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #725,140 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mumbai and noir, but not much else. May 13, 2012
By tamar p
Mumbai Noir delivered the two things it promised: Mumbai and noir. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like it delivered much more than that. I was not impressed by the collection of stories, some of which I found I found too cliché or simply too hard to understand because they were written in oddly convoluted ways. Did I get a bit of a feel for Mumbai, a city I have never visited filled with people who live lives that radically differ from my own? Sure. But did I get a real sense of plot or character? Not so much. Some of the stories would have been better had they been longer and actually delved into their plots instead of pulling everything together as fast as possible. I'd say the only stories that stood out for me were The Romantic Customer, Lucky 501 (I can't decide if this story caught my attention because it was actually good or it depicted such a horrific incident that I couldn't stop thinking about it) and The Egg.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mumbai Noir September 18, 2012
If I could, I would give this book 3.5 stars.

It's always a challenge to adequately review a short story collection, especially when the stories are each by a different author, because the quality of the stories can vary so widely. That's why I normally don't review them. I made an exception for Mumbai Noir because I am intrigued by all things Indian and try to read as much about that country and its people as I can.

The stories in Mumbai Noir are definitely focused on the darker side of the city, as the title implies. Some are morality tales and some are just melancholy. Overall, I found them entertaining and enlightening. There were a few stories about hirjas, which are sort of like what Westerners think of as transgendered people but not quite. I enjoyed these stories in particular because the hirja culture is both fascinating and confusing to me and I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about it.

There were two stories that I didn't understand at all - At Leopold Cafe and They. At Leopold Cafe is a Twilight Zone type story that has something to do with a fountain of youth elixir that was confusing to me. It jumped back and forth in time and I couldn't follow it. They is a detective story about a murder in a gym. I couldn't follow the detective's logic as far as how he figured out who the killer was.

A lot of the stories reference historical events in India that I don't have a good knowledge in yet. I was still able to enjoy them but probably would have gotten more out of them if I was more familiar with Indian history. There was a glossary of terms in the back which I appreciated. Most of the unfamiliar words could be found there but not all of them.

Overall, I think this is a book worth reading if you like stories about the dark and seedy side of big cities.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Crowded Noir August 9, 2012
This collection begged a question about duplicity as a general, pervasive theme in Indian fiction. Many of the stories have odd endings that make the protagonists complicit in the agony, or the reader finds out the good guy is actually as bad as the bad guys.

The collection establishes a fine sense of place, readers get a good sense of life in Mumbai. It is a dirty, crowded, polluted place with cybercafes, lots of traffic, a wide spectrum of class, suspicious alleys and history of terrorism. Some people are well-educated and others right off the farm. In most cases the stories are well-written ( some cliche hard-boiled PEs).

It would have been a good idea for the editor to include a back page Hindi translation guide. Some of the Hindi items were clothes or knick-knacks and most obviously food but it would have been nice to know if the characters were chowing down spiced potatoes, powdery sweet donuts, or fried okra.
The Virgin Knows: an art theft thriller
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