A major international debut novel from a storyteller who couples a timelessly beguiling style to an energetically modern worldscape. Thirteen passengers are stranded at an airport. Tokyo, their destination, is covered in snow and all flights are cancelled. To pass the night they form a huddle by the silent baggage carousels and tell each other stories. Robert De Niro's child, conceived in a Laundromat, masters the transubstantiation of matter and turns it against his enemies; a Ukrainian merchant is led by a wingless bird back to a lost lover; a man who edits other people's memories has to confront his own past; a Chinese youth with amazing luck cuts men's hair and cleans their ears; an entrepreneur risks losing everything in his obsession with a doll; a mute Turkish girl is left all alone in the house of German cartographer. Told by people on a journey, these are stories about lives in transit. Stories from the great cities -- New York, Istanbul, Delhi, Lagos, Paris, Buenos Aires -- that grow in to a novel about the hopes and dreams and disappointments that connect people everywhere. Dasgupta's writing is utterly distinctive and fresh, so striking that it seems to come from the future and the past all at once, but in marrying a timeless mystery to an alert modernity, his cautionary tales manage to be reminiscent of both Ballard and Borges, depicting ordinary extraordinary individuals (some lost, some confused, some happy) in a world that remains ineffable, inexplicable, wonderful.
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rana dasgupta grew up in Cambridge, England. He worked for a marketing consultancy in London and New York for a few years before moving to Delhi to write. He lives there still.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)
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Book Description Fourth Estate Ltd, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110007182120