Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Song of Kahunsha by Anosh Irani (2006)

The Song of Kahunsha is one of the "CBC Canada Reads" selections from 2007 - anyone else follow that?  So far, I am disappointed with many of the selections I've read - the Book of Negroes being a happy exception to that...

The Song of Kahunsha is a curious "Oliver Twist" type of story set in Bombay... Chamdi is an orphan who has lived as long as he can remember in the limited world of his Christian orphanage, until he finds out that the building has been sold and the orphans are being moved.  He decides to flee the orphanage and see if he can find his father, of whom he knows nothing other than that he ran away after leaving him as a baby wrapped in a white cloth speckled in blood.

Instead of a reunion, 10 year old Chamdi finds city streets filled with poverty, hunger, disease, deformity, villany, racism, and brutality.  While struggling to cope with this reality, Chamdi takes refuge in the ideal city of his imagination - the city of Kahunsha.

Sometimes inspiring, much of this novel is gritty and brutal, and if it weren't for characters like Guddi, a street girl with the voice of an angel and music in her soul, this book would be nearly unreadable.

Recommended only for the strong of stomach. ;-)

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