Fiction Ardashir Vakil Beach Boy

ISBN 13: 9780140264890

Beach Boy

3.18 avg rating
( 186 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780140264890: Beach Boy

A coming-of-age story set in Bombay following a boy's passage to adolescence with sex and samosas, sea and shore, truant afternoons, Hindi films, and a woman's seductive daughter. The city is full of unforgettable sights and smells and includes discoveries about lies and death, meals and girls.

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Review:

"References to my mother's not feeding me enough, sometimes overt, sometimes snide, had a currency amongst the neighbors at whose houses I often ate. I considered these insults a fee one had to pay for eating their food, for demanding their friendship, for sleeping in their beds, partaking of their quarrels, sharing their holidays, walking their dogs, making love to them, even sharing in their dreams. Generosity is often spiked."

That's Cyrus Readymoney speaking. He's smart. He's silver-tongued. He's shameless. He's all of 8 years old, the narrator and main attraction of Beach Boy, Ardashir Vakil's widely praised first novel of growing up Parsi in Bombay, circa 1970.

Cyrus is the newest initiate in the club of boyish spellbinders whose members include Edwin Mullhouse, Holden Caulfield, and Paddy Clarke, those good bad boys whose uncensored conjurings remind us how titillating, entertaining, and essentially mysterious life can be before manners and received opinions settle upon it like a veneer of dust. The benign neglect of his wealthy family not only affords Cyrus endless opportunities to observe his neighbors and tag along on their adventures, but it gives Beach Boy a cast of characters as wonderfully diverse as middle-class India itself. The big, athletic Krishnan family; the Maharani and her seductive daughter; Minoo and Mehroo Readymoney, Cyrus's cosmopolitan and self-involved progenitors; the household servant Bhagwan; brusque Aunty Zenobia; Mrs. Verma of the hundred different smiles--Ardashir Vakil evokes them all with naughty gusto. Since Cyrus is already wildly precocious and agelessly astute, calling Beach Boy a coming-of-age story in the traditional sense seems wrong. As his parents' marital difficulties reach crisis proportions, what our young hero loses is not so much his innocence, or his illusions, as his child's license to roam freely, an opportunist of insight and experience. By the time Cyrus suffers his first grown-up losses, we feel them, too, because he has given us so much delight, because we understand how deeply resonant his impish spirit is. --Joyce Thompson

About the Author:

Ardashir Valki was born in Bombay in 1962. He lives in London with his wife and daughter and teaches English at Pimlico Comprehensive School. This is his first novel.

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