- Hardcover: 349 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670081752
- ISBN-13: 978-0670081752
- Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,236,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay Hardcover – 2009
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The back cover refers to the novel as "Fitzgeraldian," and there are certainly many aspects which recall "The Great Gatsby." A young photographer, Karan, is assigned to shoot a famous pianist who long ago withdrew from his career. In the process of meeting Samar, the pianist, Karan is also introduced to his best friend/ soul mate, Bollywood actress Zaira, and Samar's lover, Leo. The foursome begin to spend some time together and Karan finds himself drawn into their world. This comprises the first part of the novel, which consists of three parts.
In the second part, a tragedy occurs which affects all of the characters. This leads to a close look at the corruption of India's political and legal system and what happens when justice is subverted by politics. In the third part of the novel, the characters must come to grips with what has happened to them. This part is a more meditative segment, reflecting on the nature of love and sexuality in a very poignant and classy way.
All in all this was a very worthwhile read which explored some interesting themes and shed light on the world of Bollywood as well as India's political and judicial system.
I wasn't sure what I was getting into as the jacket blurb is fairly vague (but mentions Fitzgerald, which caught my interest). There is a sort of Fitzgerald feel to the novel -- the glitzy tragedy of those who invite heartbreak and disaster -- but Shanghvi managed to make (most) of the characters real enough that I still felt for them. A kind of frenetic sadness infuses the story, which is part bildungsroman, part crime thriller, part celebrity expose.
There's a real crudity in the writing but I found it emphasized the frenzy of celebrity, the repressed sexual nature of the characters and the world they lived in. Sensitive readers will likely be turned off by the language and at times it felt nearly misogynistic but isn't entirely out-of-place given the tone of the novel.
Whereas Shanghvi's narrative prose had me in swoons, I found his dialogue stiff, stilted, and unbelievable. I think the attempt was to make the characters sound superficial but it read, for me, inauthentic and archaic. (Shanghvi has the characters using some very odd, dated slang and I kept flipping to the front of the book to see if this was a problem with translation.) Honestly, it felt like two different people were at work in this book.
At times, the novel felt a little long: enormous day-to-day detail around some events and then a leap of four years or ten years.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
..... A well traveled one. You will experience the highest-highs & the lowest-lows, feel like a genius behind a camera, taste bourbon, smell the salt in the air on juhu beach ..... Read morePublished on June 13, 2014 by Sapna Aggarwal
I didn't finish it. A friend recommended the author but I couldn't get into the book. Some may like it better than I.Published on March 15, 2011 by ARiggs