Eighteen-year-old Hasan Siddiqui lives in a bustling Muslim quarter of Bombay. He escapes the drudgery of his work at a chicken slaughterhouse by fostering two fervent dreams — to become a star in cricket, a sport at which he happens to excel, and to win the affections of Haseena, a fiercely intelligent young woman two years his junior. When it comes to her, however, he is not so proficient, and Hasan’s close-to-nonexistent prospects — along with the rather unfortunate setting of their budding romance, Baba’s Chicken Centre — make advancing either cause look impossible.
Half a world away in Vancouver, Hasan’s older brother, Abdul, has been working under the table at an Indian restaurant, attempting to set down roots with the hope of one day reuniting with his brother. For Abdul the immigrant dream shows little sign of materializing, but he finds solace in his amateur cricket team. When he and the team’s captain decide to take action to end their losing streak, they talk of recruiting the talented Hasan for the rest of the season. But bringing Hasan from India to Canada will take much more than just a plane ticket, and rising tensions demonstrate that not all members of the team agree with the high cost.
Alternating between Bombay and Vancouver and exploring urgent themes surrounding the complexities of the modern immigrant experience, Islamophobia, and racial violence, The Men in White is by turns disarming, hilarious, and brutally poignant — the masterful playwright and novelist Anosh Irani at his finest.
ANOSH IRANI was born and brought up in Bombay and moved to Vancouver in 1998. His play Bombay Black won five Dora Mavor Moore Awards, including for Outstanding New Play, and his anthology The Bombay Plays: The Matka King & Bombay Black was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Drama. The Matka King received a Jessie Award nomination for Outstanding Original Script, as did his latest play, The Men in White. Irani’s most recent novel, The Parcel, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; was longlisted for the 2017 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and the 2018 Dublin Literary Award; and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail, National Post, CBC, the Walrus, and Quill & Quire. His work has been translated into eleven languages.
PRAISE FOR ANOSH IRANI:
“One of CanLit's most innovative chameleons.” — Quill & Quire
PRAISE FOR ANOSH IRANI AND THE MEN IN WHITE:
NOMINATED FOR THREE JESSIE RICHARDSON THEATRE AWARDS, INCLUDING OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCRIPT
“The play feels so contemporary; its themes — Islamophobia, immigration — are obviously very of the moment, taking on a new urgency of late. . . . I am glad a playwright of Irani’s calibre is dealing with them.” — Globe and Mail
PRAISE FOR ANOSH IRANI AND THE PARCEL:
FINALIST, THE GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARD
FINALIST, THE ROGERS WRITERS’ TRUST FICTION PRIZE
FINALIST, THE ETHEL WILSON FICTION PRIZE
LONGLISTED, THE DSC PRIZE FOR SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE
A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A QUILL & QUIRE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A NATIONAL POST BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A CBC BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A WALRUS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
“Courageous.” — Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing
“Part of the way this excellent book heals such a sprawling, horrifying reality is with beauty . . . With the hijras, the parcels, the eyes, arms and power of a moody deity, one looks at the strange only to discover unity.” — Globe and Mail
“As engrossing as any thriller, Anosh Irani’s fourth novel offers readers so much more. An aggregate of storytelling accomplishments, The Parcel captivates with its vividly rendered characters and commands the reader’s attention by way of unnerving — and at times profoundly disturbing — portraiture of an abject group at the bottom of an already denigrated community at the heart of India’s booming financial hub, Mumbai . . . Irani leads readers on a memorable walking tour through what is likely alien territory for them . . . The various episodes in the novel are deeply affecting, giving the reader ample reason to agonize over the fact that such a place exists at all. Irani’s compassion for these discarded souls, and the assertion of their essential dignity, renders them simultaneously touching and distressing.” — Quill & Quire, STARRED REVIEW
“Irani takes readers into the depths of Mumbai’s teeming Kamathipura district, whose economy depends on prostitution bordering on slavery. The story centres on eunuch and former sex worker Madhu — now a beggar and sometime aid to a powerful madam — who is called on to groom a pre-teen Nepalese girl for work in the brothel. Sounds grim, but Irani’s ear is attuned to the raucous humour of the sex workers as they do what they can to maintain their dignity. A harsh dose of reality administered with wit and clarity.” — NOW Magazine
“North Vancouver’s Anosh Irani isn’t selling vacation dreams. He’s depicting a hard, nightmarish existence. As a result, the exoticism of his arresting fourth novel, The Parcel, is nowhere near pleasant and benign. A searing, disturbing, and intimate portrait of Kamathipura, a dilapidated series of laneways in India’s finance capital where an ugly system of prostitution has thrived for over a century, his novel exposes a heartbreaking reality.” — Vancouver Sun
“The Parcel showcases the perceptive acid-streaked sensibility that distinguishes Irani’s novels and plays. But though Irani makes the hell of slums visceral on his pages, he offers here the ways feral compassion can turn to grace.” — National Post
“Immersive and devastating, The Parcel is a searing tale of personal transformation amid toxic patriarchy. Madhu is at once pathetic and honourable, despicable and mighty — and imbued with such complexity, Irani brings dignity to all the transgender sex-workers of India.” — Rajith Savanadasa, author of The Ruins
PRAISE FOR THE BOMBAY PLAYS: THE MATKA KING & BOMBAY BLACK:
“At once poetic and theatrical, The Bombay Plays pulse with grit, humour and despair. Anosh Irani makes an astonishing debut with these two plays. His voice is fierce, funny and wholly original.” — Governor General’s Literary Award Jury Citation
PRAISE FOR THE MATKA KING:
“Anosh Irani has crafted a story as black and seductive as a desert night.”— Globe and Mail
PRAISE FOR BOMBAY BLACK:
“This is one of the most harrowing, unsettling, and mesmerizing plays I’ve ever seen. Ten hours after leaving the theatre, I’m still shaken by what acclaimed playwright Anosh Irani weaves in Bombay Black’s dense 75 minutes.” — Andrea Werner, Georgia Straight