Wednesday, July 17, 2013

G167 E-Reading Book Review of Bombay Bhel by Ken Doyle

General Information:

Name of Book: Bombay Bhel

ISBN: 9780615763576

Publisher: Loquent Press

Year it was published: 2013

Overall theme:

I suspect that time does move forward, from 1960s up until 1995, from wars and attacks up until somewhat peace. Its interesting that both beginning and ending stories deal with vendors and their customers. I think this is more to show the hidden corners and unknown facets of Mumbai/Bombay rather than tell narrative stories. The only way they connect is that all take place in Bombay. I also suspect that some characters here and there appear in subsequent stories.

Author: Ken Doyle

Author information: 

Bombay, India



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Ken Doyle was born in Bombay, India, into a family with Portuguese and Anglo-Indian roots. He moved to the USA for graduate studies and currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife, daughter, and dog. One of his early short stories, written at the age of sixteen, was selected for inclusion in an anthology of Indian science fiction. These days, Ken’s writing spans several genres, including literary fiction and science fiction for young adults.

1. Aam Papad


A story of Hassan, who is a vendor at a school, and who is also Muslim. He hears of a fight and travels by train to where he came from. Meanwhile Brian, a Goan boy and Hassan's customer wonders where he might be. This possibly takes place during 1960s in India.

2. A Different Music


This is written in first person narrative and its a recollection by Mistry of a principal that he liked and admired named Mr. Watson who passed away from cancer. This takes place in the same school as Aam Papad does. Mistry recalls the fights that Mr. Watson has had as well as the relationship he has had with the principal.

3. Independence Day 


Annie recounts how she has married to her husband as well as their habits and life together and how her present day continues without her husband. She is moving to live with her son's family, I think. She also recounts a party they threw and how her son went against tradition in marrying Mangalorean girl. The story ends with her coming home.

4. Retribution 


Sachin is a shop-keeper whose shop was recently looted. He tries to get money to pay for rent, but when it doesn't work, he gets a loan twice and even then can't make the deadline. The neighbors try to do what they can, but they can't, and it ends up that Sachin's wife Sujata is raped.

5. Cats 


Its a story of Eleanor and the cats. A boy, Neil, meets an old woman named Eleanor who is not an Indian citizen. The two become good friends, and Eleanor wills Neil a house. Neil recalls how they met and Eleanor's stories and so forth.

6. The Wedding Gift 


Vincent is a newlywed who is indebted to his in-laws for a flat. When they move in, they meet gossipy sisters who tell Vincent of Miss Khalili who is a call girl. Vincent has a chance of meeting her and learns of her sad tale. There is an involvement of neighbors' divorce and in the end Vincent judges Miss Khalili harshly and moves away.

7. The Deep Blue Sea


Mario desires to go to a university in America but for a while he can't. While he works, he falls in love with Hema who only sees him in a casual relationship due to different ethnicities they both have. Although Mario tries to talk her into marrying him, especially when someone from higher up wants him for a job, Hema refuses.

8. Solar Power 


This is written in first person narrative of a man who has experience in creating solar panels. A schoolmate, Pesi, asks him to help out with creating solar powers that can be used for the dead, instead of the vultures that Parsis rely on. The two go into business together.

9. Bhel Plaza 


Amit works as a vendor, and he has a customer named Nancy who asks him questions and plans on writing a book about his adventures. Times have changed. He gets a notice that he has to renovate his stall, which he does, but it doesn't help, and thus he has no choice but to leave. Bombay is also undergoing through a name change; from Bombay to Mumbai.

Quick Notes: This is a review for Making Connections. 

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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