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Tokyo Cancelled Paperback – April 10, 2005

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From 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 "MyPastâ„¢," 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the spirit of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Dasgupta's first novel assembles fanciful tales--a baker's dozen of them--told by a random assortment of travelers. In the midst of a blinding snowstorm that shuts down Tokyo's main airport, 13 stranded tourists pass the hours by spinning stories that reflect their diverse and colorful backgrounds. A rural tailor is commissioned by a prince to create a unique silk robe, but his life collapses in ruins when ignorant guards refuse to let him deliver the goods. The disowned son of a wealthy banker lands a job cataloging memories for an increasingly amnesiac population of modern-day London, only to discover his father among the company's customers. In perhaps the most outlandish and risque tale, Robert DeNiro's illegitimate son stumbles on the secret of transforming matter via a magical box of Oreo cookies. Dasgupta's themes run the gamut from loss and betrayal to uprootedness and alienation in a magical realist manner that echoes the best of Garcia Marquez and makes for irresistibly absorbing entertainment. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Black Cat; First American Edition edition (April 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802170099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802170095
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rana Dasgupta was born in the UK in 1971 and grew up in Cambridge. As an adult he lived in France, Malaysia and the US before moving to Delhi in 2000.

His first book, "Tokyo Cancelled", was published in 2005. Narrated by travelers stuck for a night in an airport, "Tokyo Cancelled" is a cycle of folktales about our contemporary world of globalization, corporations, film stars and illegal immigrants. It was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Vodafone Crossword Award.

"Solo" came out in the UK in 2009 and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Set in Bulgaria, "Solo" follows the life and daydreams of a melancholy centenarian, so embarking on an epic exploration of science, memory, music and failure. "Solo" has been translated into twelve languages and will be available in the US in February 2011.

"Capital: the Eruption of Delhi", his most recent book, is a non-fiction portrait of Rana Dasgupta's adopted city.


"Only the most gifted writers can hold the surreal and the real in satisfying equilibrium. This elite now welcomes Rana Dasgupta to its ranks" - Time Out

"Brilliantly conceived and jauntily delivered" - San Francisco Chronicle

"These stories ... ah, they outdo the Arabian Nights for inventiveness. One closes the book with head spinning" - The Guardian


"Solo is ... utterly unforgettable in its humanity" - The Guardian

"A necessary as well as a timely novel" - Sunday Business Post

"Weird, wonderful and warmly wise" - Daily Mail

"This is an important work" - The Australian


an "intense, lyrical, erudite and powerful book... Dasgupta has provided a welcome corrective to the reams of superficial travel writing describing the whimsical, the exotic, the booming or simply the poverty-stricken in India. His is a much more complex, darker story." - The Guardian

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Elisabeth Patterson on January 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most well written, captivating and creative collection of short stories that I have read in a long time. There are so many different plots and twists and turns to each story that one wonders how Dasgupta was able to imagine it all. I very much enjoyed the fact that each story is set in a different city across five continents. For the places that I knew, I really got the feeling that Dasgupta had a good grasp of the cultures he was writing about.

I would definitely recommend reading this book, especially if one enjoys foreign settings and a certain magical atmosphere.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. R. Walsh on June 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Like another reader, I picked this up thinking the idea was an interesting slant on a theme of short stories. I was expecting something connecting the stranded passengers but I really did fall into the magical realism we're used to finding from writers like Isabel Allende et al. Actually none of the stories relate to each other (excepting some references in the last story to earlier incidents) though they all demonstrate the writer's knowledge of capital cities and some astude references to current global affairs (eg, the economic crisis in Argentina). I loved the unrealistic side of the tales, the exploration of the depth of the human mind and the concept of dreams as reality. Its refreshing to read such an International book (meaning, you really couldn't tell where the author is from by just reading the stories). I believe this is Rana Dasgupta's first book and I really have to give him credit for his incredible style and the enormous amound of research that went into the work. If I was to find one fault (and this is the only one) and while I really enjoy the style of writing and the great idea of using stranded/bored passengers to share their stories...........they all had the same style and they all used the same bizarre magical reality throughout. Some more individualism (ie, a different storytelling style) might have added to the authenticity of the situation.........The odds of finding 13 excellent storytellers on a stranded flight seems a little too incredulous! All in all, however, this was an excellent Summer read and I thoroughly recommend picking it up soon.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kathy on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I rcvd my copy of Tokyo Cancelled, and started to read it the very same day. Frankly, I thought it may be a bit too high brow for me. The reviews were very "literary".

To my pleasant surprise, it is more accessible than I expected. There are 13 short stories of varying styles. The stories are told by travelers stranded in the Tokyo airport (hence the title). They are told in various forms: fables, modern tales, a sectioned/outline format, and set in modern and fanciful times. Be prepared to suspend reality. This is one of those books that can be read on many levels. I enjoyed the stories in and of themselves, but also enjoyed thinking about them afterward. I plan to read the book again. I suspect I will get more out of it on the second reading.

Dasgupta has an interesting writing style. I was often amused, occassionally embarrassed or surprised, sometimes sad or even bemused... overall a very interesting book. I still don't "get" the Frankfurt Mapmaker story, but I enjoyed it. Hmmm...I'll surely read it again. The Billionaire's Sheep was powerful - it made me think. I don't want to give anything away here - please forgive my generalizations.

This book is not of the IWE (Indians Writing in English) genre, though the writer has a good command of India. This is not Lahiri, Mistry or any other Indian writer - so don't expect that kind of novel. (Though I have enjoyed Lahiri and Mistry.)Dasgupta has his own voice. I plan on recommending this to a few friends who I think would appreciate this unique book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Sanchez VINE VOICE on May 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was not what I expected, and after finishing it, I still do not know what to think. The premise is what made me initially interested: a group of 13 strangers are stranded in the airport in Tokyo for the night and decide to pass the time by telling stories. Sounds interesting, right? I thought that the stories would be global and realistic stories about people and life. I was wrong. The stories are certainly global, and the author describes beautifully each city in the book with intimate knowledge, but the collection of stories are more like fairy tales and fantasies. I did not fully understand many of the stories, but the book kept me reading nonetheless. Overall, it was not a bad book, just different. The author writes well, and for the imaginative, this may be a great book. I just think that I would have liked similar stories about life told without the fantasy better.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Corculum on April 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I found the first story interesting....absurdist fantasy but then the next story was the same genre as was the next etc. etc. The two stars are for the use of language but the stories (do not equate it with the Canterbury Tales even though the dust jacket does) seem to pick something absurd, do something absurd with it and leave with an incomprehensible ending. That's fine in small doses but it doesn't add much to understanding characters or life in general. The "plot" device of 13 people stranded in an airport could have been something interesting but there is only one of the passengers who is given any identity at all so, an interesting situation is wasted and we know nothing of the people who are telling these stories. That would have added an interesting dimension.. Read one story from it and then go on to something else.
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