Bombay-born, Vancouver-based writer Anosh Irani’s book The Song of Kahunsha is one of five finalists in the Canada Reads contest. As the website says:
Canada Reads is a CBC Radio program about books that’s designed to appeal to both avid and occasional readers. Five celebrity panelists each champion a work of Canadian fiction they’d love us all to read and, in a game of “literary survivor,” whittle down that list of books to one, the book Canada Reads.
The Song of Kahunsha is, in essence, a child’s-eye view of the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts and the subsequent riots. Inspite of a few hiccups, Irani’s story compels–mostly because his love for the city shines through on each page; anyone who dreams of a Bombay shorn of poverty and hardship and communal tension should check out this work.
My review of The Song of Kahunsha appeared in DesiLit Magazine last year, where I wrote:
The Song of Kahunsha is best read as Irani’s emotional response to a beloved city’s pain, rather than a reasoned dissection of the 1993 Bombay riots. The author details the horror of those days through the uncomprehending eyes of the young protagonist. Chamdi, caught in the middle, is a helpless participant in the religious violence engulfing the city. And his situation is even more poignant given that as an orphan of unknown parentage, he belongs to no religious community: he is merely “Chamdi,” identified by no more than his skin. Even as Bombay turns malignant, Chamdi struggles to hold on to his dream of Kahunsha; a metaphor, perhaps, of the city’s struggle for peace in the aftermath of its terror.
The full text of my review is here. Read more about Irani on the CBC website; and here’s a link to an interview with him in Eclectica Magazine. The book was released in Canada in Spring 2006, but for reasons hard to comprehend, doesn’t seem to be available in India yet. I hope this nomination will do the trick…
The book’s champion in the competition is writer Donna Morrissey. You can read/listen to the debate online (and post comments) at the CBC website. The contest ends March 2 2007; good luck, Anosh!