Prepare to enter a world where the norms of human behavior—even the rules governing time and gravity—are set on their heads. This dark and wry fable begins with the narrator waking up and discovering he is missing an arm. He has no idea how he lost it or how to find it—but as he searches the chaotic, often surreal streets of Bombay, he meets an absurd and marvelous cast of characters who offer him clues: a woman selling rainbows, a beggar living under an egg cart, a coffin maker who builds finger-sized caskets, a giant who lives underwater, a homeless boy riding the rails. They all lead him to Baba Rakhu, master of the underworld, who will reveal the story of his lost arm—for a price.
Funny and wise, violent and tender, The Cripple and His Talismans is an impressive debut for lovers of Samuel Beckett, Lewis Carroll, and Salman Rushdie.
ANOSH IRANI has published four critically acclaimed and award-winning novels: The Cripple and His Talismans (2004), a national bestseller; The Song of Kahunsha(2006), which was an international bestseller and shortlisted for Canada Reads and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; Dahanu Road (2010), which was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, and The Parcel (2016), which was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His play Bombay Black won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play (2006), and his anthology The Bombay Plays: The Matka King & Bombay Black(2006) and his play Men in White were both shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama. He lives in Vancouver.
“The Cripple and His Talismans is an absurd, and absurdly eloquent tale of a man who wanders Bombay in search of his lost arm. The book is a toothy metaphor for modern India and the forces that cripple it. Canada-based Irani deftly weaves the coarse realities of Bombay with dystopian notions of giants and rainbow hawkers. Irani’s flair for wordplay and leering wit make The Cripple... an enthralling story that won’t leave you in a hurry.”
The Cripple and his Talismans is a surreal tale set within the folds of a breathing entity called Bombay. Irani’s prose is both imaginative and strikingly visual in its lucidity and style. How the author moves towards the denouement makes for a startling read in this tale of lost and found… replete with a sense of whimsicality….”
—BENGAL POST, INDIA
“The Cripple and his Talismans by Anosh Irani is a unique book.
The journey of the man in search of his missing arm is often hilarious, sad, and at the same time human and absurd.”
"A highly imaginative novel, full of humour, poetry, and insights, written in a beautiful, spare style. Throughout the narrative looms a great city, Bombay, crazily reflected in the life of one of its inhabitants who, by means baffling, heinous, desperate, and often very funny, seeks to embrace the divine with both arms."
— YANN MARTEL, author of Life of Pi
"[Irani's] brilliant debut novel, The Cripple and His Talismans, radiates with the energy of Bombay, albeit a dark energy... Irani commands attention from the first sentence."
— THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"[The Cripple and His Talismans] makes demands on the reader, but our effort is triply rewarded—first, by the lush imagery of the writing; second, because of its surprises and, finally, because of its deep moral gravity.... This debut novel marks a step in the evolution of Canadian literature."
— THE VANCOUVER SUN
"Darkly comic and brave, this novel has no fear when it comes to facing the lepers, beggars, and prostitutes of the city. Irani seeks out territory that would frighten away other writers.... The book's sheer audacity and humour elevate it well above the level of most first novels."
—QUILL & QUIRE
“Sly…Irani captures the cadence and inflections of his surreal Bombay perfectly.”
“An impressive debut, a beautifully written modern-day fable.”
“Anosh Irani has an eye for the absurdities of human existence and an ear for the comedy inherent in nearly everything we say. This is a marvelous debut.”
—BBC NEWS, The World Books
“…[A] lush debut novel…an undercurrent of dark humour as well as Irani’s atmospheric evocation of Bombay enliven this compelling story.”
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Irani’s prose is audacious and spare. A challenging offering from a writer with a penchant for mixing the profane and divine.”