Book Review: A Son of the Circus

A Son of the CircusA Son of the Circus by John Irving

Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla's fascination with the circus, dwarfs, and his place decidedly between the India of his childhood and the Canada of his adulthood, finds himself back in Bombay and caught in a vortex of people and circumstances surrounding a serial killer whose decades of murder are about to come to an end.

John Irving's A Son of the Circus is not about India or even about the clubmen, dwarf clowns, transvestite whores, missionaries, and movie stars who populate the almost 700 pages of this 1994 novel that followed the brilliant, heart-breaking A Prayer for Owen Meany. Instead, it's about all of them as the 59-year-old Dr. Daruwalla has come to know them through his expatriate eyes, as a visitor, as one who will always be on the outside looking in. Really, it's a book about how these people live in the mind of the doctor and shape him no matter where he is. Even though he is an outsider looking in.

Irving spends the first quarter of the book laying out the characters and connecting them to each other over time. Once he is done with the backstory, it's the reader's story--and the bizarre, outlandish twists and turns in the plot and in the characters themselves make perfect sense. Because, from the outside looking in, these are our people. This is the magic of Irving.

Clearly, when you feel like you're nowhere, you also feel like you're nobody--except that nowhere is home, you know it well, and you love it. Happiness is unavoidable sometimes.

So often Iriving leaves me wondering, "What was that about?" And then I think, "Yes, that's it exactly." Just can't say what. Not for a long time.

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  1. I love Irving books. They are always captivating

  2. sounds like a skilled writer...

  3. This is perhaps exactly the book I've been thinking about. I love you review! Thanks.

  4. I read a book a long time ago. Das Hotel New Hempsire. Was an interesting book.


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