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A Son of the Circus

A Son of the Circus

Written by John Irving

Narrated by David Colacci


A Son of the Circus

Written by John Irving

Narrated by David Colacci

ratings:
3/5 (792 ratings)
Length:
26 hours
Released:
Jun 25, 2007
ISBN:
9781423336013
Format:
Audiobook

Description

Born a Parsi in Bombay, sent to university and medical school in Vienna, Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla is a 59-year-old orthopedic surgeon and a Canadian citizen who lives in Toronto. Periodically, the doctor returns to Bombay, where most of his patients are crippled children.

Once, 20 years ago, Dr. Daruwalla was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa. Now, 20 years later, he will be reacquainted with the murderer.
Released:
Jun 25, 2007
ISBN:
9781423336013
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

John Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning in 1980 for the novel The World According to Garp. In 1992, Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He won the 2000 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Irving's most recent novel is In One Person (2012).


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Reviews

What people think about A Son of the Circus

3.0
792 ratings / 19 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (2/5)
    I almost bailed out after the first hundred pages of this book, and should have followed that inclination. When one keeps dozing off and dropping the book on one's foot, it's seldom a good sign.

    There are, undeniably, some very funny moments here, generally based on cultural misunderstandings. The "American hippy" girl's taxicab ride into Bombay from the airport is laugh-out-loud funny, and scattered moments like this (along with Irving's gift for creating memorable characters) kept me slogging along well after any real interest in the plot fizzled out.

    There's a murder mystery, and a subplot about twins separated at birth, and frequent reminders about the toilet habits of homeless people in large cities. There's a side trip through the world of "Bollywood" movies, and the existential dilemma of a man born to one culture but reared in another, who tries to maintain his balance with a foot in each.

    But mostly, there are just words -- thousands of them, pouring over the defenseless reader like a tsunami. In the end, perhaps, it's best just to stay away from the literary shoreline here.
  • (2/5)
    Never finished Never cared
  • (3/5)
    Where’s the rest of the book?? This recording is incomplete!
  • (3/5)
    A little slow for me to get into, but quite entertaining once I did. Dr. Durawalla was very endearing once I got used to him Nancy, Patel, Rahul and the inimitable twins Dahor and Martin, were wonderfully drawn characters. The plot was a little weak as far as I was concerned, though.
  • (3/5)
    People keep telling me to read Irving, but up to now I've never really got into one of his novels. I picked this one up on holiday and made the effort to stick with it: I'm not completely convinced, but it was probably just about worth finishing.I found it rather long and rambling, but with patches of very engaging detail. Research is clearly one of Irving's strengths, but he doesn't seem to be good at discarding material he doesn't need. Of the big plot threads, the one about emigration and deracination wasn't particularly interesting, but I did enjoy the way the book plays around with the conventions of crime fiction and with the way in which the narratives we construct about other people can come back and affect our and their lives.
  • (3/5)
    I continue to be a fan of John Irving.....the stories just go 'on-and-on' and somehow, i always want to keep reading.
  • (4/5)
    Unusual subject matter, an Indian doctor, who lives in Canada but writes film scripts for a mega star in India and who just loves everything about the Circus! It doesn't come much stranger than that. Dr Daruwalla doesn't feel at home anywhere, so feels out of water wherever he goes. He goes back to India every year to his apartment, goes to his old club The Duckworth club for a taste of old India, but this year there is a murder, which harks back to one that took place over 20 years ago. Dr Daruwalla's journey towards finding the culprit, takes us through some very strange neighbourhoods indeed, and we meet some less than wholesome characters, but the book is somehow captivating and you just have to keep on to the end. Another very good read, with a quriky plot. Great I really liked it1
  • (4/5)
    My second John Irving, it was definitely a bit weirder than the first I read (which was The Cider House Rules). At first I found it a bit hard to get into; a lot of different characters were introduced and the story jumped around a lot. However, I got more engaged as it progressed and by the last third or so I was heavily engrossed in it. The writing, descriptions, and characterizations were of course wonderful, being John Irving.
  • (4/5)
    SPOILER WARNINGI haven't read all of Irving's work, but this is my second favorite after A Prayer for Owen Meany. As other reviewers have said, Irving's style can be a bit plodding and the apparent folding together of different time periods can leave the unprepared reader breathless. Once you get past this, though, this is a delightful read.The main character, Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla, is an orthopedist and the anonymous screenwriter behind a series of Bollywood crime dramas (dramas with singing and dancing, of course, because Bollywood). His surname turns out to be symbolic. The word “wallah,” coming from the Hindi suffix “-vala,” indicates one who performs a specific function or, interestingly, one who is connected to a particular place. The doctor, then, as the writer of the Inspector Dhar movies, performs the service of creating and maintaining Dhar. This suffix then turns ironical, as Daruwalla has never felt at home anywhere. Don't read this expecting a lot of circus action. That's like coming to Jurassic Park and expecting cool dinosaurs. Maybe a chapter or two is in the circus proper and that's it. The disconnect between the title and the plot, however, is part of the novel's genius. This is the second ironic twist to the doctor’s name. For when, as a screenwriter, he ventures out from the genre he is familiar with, has a difficult time settling on a title. He finally chooses Limo Roulette, which is a very small portion of the screenplay he's writing.Dr. Daruwalla is a perfect Irving character: at home but not at home, searching for some kind of meaning. In many ways, he is like John Wheelwright, the narrator and lead in Owen Meany. As Daruwalla has also chosen Toronto for his permanent residence, there are even a couple of near-misses at creating a shared universe for the two novels. Grace Church on-the-Hill and Bishop Strachan School, both of which are connected to Wheelwright, appear briefly in the epilogue. Daruwalla is even said to have spent a considerable amount of quiet time in Grace Church; Wheelwright preferred the weekday services at the Church for their sparse and quiet attendance.There are a significant number of similarities between Circus and Owen Meany: a main character (Daruwalla and Wheelwright) floating on the margins of Christianity; a mystical character (Martin Mills and Owen Meany) obsessed with a sense of mission that doesn’t turn out like he thought it would; a parent killed violently (Daruwalla’s father by a car bomb, Wheelwright’s mother by an errant baseball); and mysterious fathers (the twins John D. and Martin Mills and Wheelwright). There are probably some others but this is already getting longer than it needs to.Even with these similarities, however, Owen Meany and Circus are not the same novel. This leads me to one of the many great phrases I underlined as I was reading. This is found on p 548 of the paperback: “Instead of listening to the numbers or enduring the Jesuitical provocations of Martin Mills, Farrokh chose to tell a story. Although it was a true story—and, as the doctor would soon discover, painful to tell—it suffered from the disadvantage that the storyteller had never told it before; even true stories are improved by revision.” Circus, published five years after Owen Meany, may be a revision of the former. Perhaps this question need not be answered. After all, as a minor character realizes on p 473, perhaps not everything needs to be understood in order to follow a plot. One final word: the deadnaming of the transgender character “the second Mrs. Dogar” has not aged well. However, Irving has often treated themes of gender and sexual non-conformity in his works so maybe this is yet another place where the true story has undergone revision.
  • (5/5)
    Now a Canadian citizen, Dr Farrokh Daruwalla lives and works in Canada but spends some time each year in his place of birth, Bombay, and it is in Bombay and India that we spend our time with him. He maintains his own apartment there with a staff, and pursues his interest in the dwarfs who work in the circuses; and it is in the circus that is seems we might be spending most of our time - but the action does move elsewhere, and often back in time.As we would expect with John Irving the story is far from straight forward, and includes in addition to the dwarfs, the low life of Bombay including beggars and prostitutes, actors and film stars, gays, transsexuals and other variations, twins, a handsome Bombay film star as much hated as he is loved, and an unusually honest police officer among others. Much of the action centres around the Duckworth Club, a very respectable club with a twenty year waiting list for members. But bringing everything together is a murder that proves to be more than an isolated case.Farrokh, a family man now in his late fifties, becomes involved with the murders, he has a connection with the first, and he is there when the latest occurs, and his penchant for writing detective stories ensures his involvement.The Son of the Circus I consider one of Irving's best efforts. Initially I must admit I did not find it immediately involving, but once we got beyond the circus and met met some of the other characters I was completely drawn in and found it captivating, with a number of very endearing characters - along with one or two villains.
  • (4/5)
    As with (almost) all the Irving books I have read, I cannot exactly pinpoint what I love so much about this book. I guess he just has a writing style that makes me want to be in the world he creates. Or it's the fact that the characters in this book are just so absurd that you can't help yourself but be curious as to what crazy things will happen next.
  • (4/5)
    Enjoyed this book by irving as well. Great book, different subject matter. I love India, and enjoy such a different book out of one of my favorite authors. Great characters, good plot, nicely paced book. Good read.
  • (2/5)
    funny and bizarre, I like it! Dr. daruwalla has no country (but keeps going to india to take blood from dwarves) and no religion, until a transexual bites his big toe while he sleeps. The rest is history.
  • (2/5)
    This one didn't grab me at all.
  • (3/5)
    This was such a long book that sometimes it seemed that Mr. Irving got lost and had to repeat details. Perhaps he thought that he needed to spoon feed reminders to me in case I couldn't remember a setup from earlier pages.
  • (1/5)
    I really tried to like this book as it sounded like it would be terrific, but I could not get interested in it. Too many details. It seemed like certain thoughts were repeated, and repeated, and repeated. . . After 70 pages, I decided not to waste any more time on it. There are too many better books out there to read.
  • (5/5)
    One of my favorite John Irving books. Totally captures the spirt of Indian culture, with his unique plot twists.
  • (4/5)
    The hand imagery (A Prayer for Owen Meany) is resurrected in this work set in India. Irving (or rather, his researchers) did the homework on this one.
  • (4/5)
    The only book that I've read so far by John Irving that I truly liked & enjoyed. (I've read Life According to Garp, Prayer for Owen Meany, 1 or 2 others that I can't even remember...)