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The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay

3.25  ·  Rating Details ·  595 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews

When photographer Karan Seth comes to Bombay intent on immortalizing a city charged by celebrity and sensation, he is instantly drawn in by its allure and cruelty. Along the way, he discovers unlikely allies: Samar , an eccentric pianist; Zaira, the reclusive queen of Bollywood; and Rhea, a married woman who seduces Karan into a tender but twisted affair. But when an unex

Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2010)
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Nov 17, 2010 Siria rated it did not like it
I couldn't manage to finish this book. The prose is terrible, full of sexual metaphors so appallingly awful that it seemed as if the book had been written by an immature 12 year old desperate for attention. Feeling wary after the first chapter, I flipped forward through the book to find: "Glee dripped out of Natasha like precum"; "smugness blasted out of her face like a fart”; “Priya had a crusty librarian’s voice, one that could only be relieved by a dildo." All are phrases that certainly got m ...more
Sep 21, 2011 Ruchita rated it did not like it
You've heard all too often about a young, lost, upper-middle class 20-something in love with Bombay: the 'city that never sleeps', a cliche outdone only with old favourite, 'the spirit of Mumbai.' However, that is not what this book is really about. It's about - well, I'm not really sure what it's about. It clearly revolves around the murder of a famous model shot in a bar, inspired by the real life story of Jessica Lal, who was shot down in a Mumbai bar years ago. But what purpose that sub-plot ...more
Nov 26, 2010 Kristy rated it it was ok
Shanghvi's prose is so laden with adjectives and metaphors that it is actually quite a triumph that the characters and plot come through at all. His descriptions are generally awkward (sometimes cringingly so), but occasionally poetic and apt. The same goes for his dialogue -- most of the time leaden and implausible, but occasionally moving and heartfelt. The writing made me want to hate this book, but I found myself drawn to the characters despite myself. Still, not recommended unless you have ...more
Oct 10, 2012 Pooja rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good storyline but overdose of tragedy and somehow even though whats happening in the book is sad you dont feel for the characters.. This is one of the could have been books..
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Do I like the cover?: Not really.  It feels like a throwaway.  As Karan's photography is the focus of the novel, I would have loved a black and white photo of Bombay instead.

Review: This novel is a bit like a tabloid-tell-all, set in Bombay, and I mean that in the best way.  A reclusive pianist, a Bollywood star, a repressed artist, a Nick Carraway-ish photographer: the cast is appropriately superficial and self-destructive and yet, as we -- and Karan Seth, the outsider-turned-insider -- discov
Dilesh Bansal
Jun 19, 2009 Dilesh Bansal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-fiction
I love reading Shanghvi's elaborately picturesque prose.

I kind of like the way he forebodes important scenes with some metaphor mostly using some animal. Like an innocent sparrow dying by hitting into the courtroom fan just before the verdict.

It seems there are portions in the book when he is at his creative best, and there are portions where he gets engrossed in the plot and the prose becomes bland and dull.

Even if I can skim over the little too many sexual metaphors, one crib I have is ther
Sep 27, 2010 Caroline rated it liked it
A photographer looking to capture the hidden beauty and truth of Bombay, a semi-retired pianist and his American writer boyfriend, a beautiful Bollywood actress, a married woman who sacrificed her pottery ambitions for her husband and a politician. On the surface, the book is about how their lives intersect and what they do for love, the love of a friend, the love of a soul-mate, the love in a torrid affair and the love (or guilt) of a parent.

But look deeper and we're treated to the dirty insid
Jul 13, 2011 Neha rated it it was ok
Siddharth Dhanwant Sanghvi warmed my heart with his first book ‘The Last Song of the Dusk’. I wanted more of him but was scared what if it fails to recreate the same magic. Then I read that he only wrote one book post that and has now retired from the writing world. I wondered what could be the reason for such a talented and soulful writer that some negative criticism would lead to him giving up the love of his life – WRITING. Surely I had to read the book.

To read more:
Sundarraj Kaushik
A book about a set of characters from the high-society in Bombay. The book revolves around the life of a gifted photographer, Karan, from Simla who has moved to Bombay to make his living. As an assignment he is asked to photograph a gay pianist who has stopped playing piano and is now living with his american boyfriend. Karan manages to take not so flattering photographs of the pianist and on the basis of these he manages to get a private photography session with the pianist. On the side Karan i ...more
Mar 11, 2017 Ashley rated it it was amazing
The book was very poetic and descriptive. It was fraught with emotion: love, sorrow, and happiness. The book was well written and very enjoyable.
Nov 02, 2016 Kaia rated it really liked it
Great sense of place.
Aug 26, 2012 Dulce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Não conhecia o autor (nem sequer consigo pronunciar o seu nome) e nunca ouvira falar deste livro, mas o título despertou-me curiosidade e a sinopse na contracapa fez o resto. E que livro, este! Um romance que nos transporta até à exótica e vibrante Bombaim (hoje, Mumbai) e que nos revela uma Índia cosmopolita, cuja sociedade se rende e se prostra perante Bollywood e as suas vedetas. Ao longo das páginas encontramos belas passagens sobre amor, amizade e tudo aquilo a que ambos resistem, mas a his ...more
Jul 02, 2011 Vindi rated it really liked it
The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay is a difficult book to summarise.

In one respect it is a tragedy of characters (for Shanghvi crafts each presence as a character) thrown together by circumstance, paying homage to the most potent character of them all, the City of Bombay. It's an ode to the greatest literary composition on chance encounters and accidental friendships, Fitzegrald's Great Gatsby. It is also hyperbolic Bollywood Noir with the brazen, saturated colour that only Arvind Adiga succeeds in (
Sep 16, 2010 E rated it really liked it
[The Lost Flamingos of Bombay] is an astute homage to a city teeming with people and loneliness. Following the lives of several characters who range from failed a piano virtuoso, struggling to love the man who shares his life to a housewife who surrendered her artistic career for the comforts of her husband's love, Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi's most-recent novel is yet another book about artists becoming artists and pretty, young things coming to grips with the real world, yet in this work, Shan ...more
Dalton Blue
Oct 08, 2014 Dalton Blue rated it it was amazing
I received this book a long time ago (for free from GoodReads First Reads), or at least what seems like a long time ago (about 4 years). When I first tried to read I was in the tail end of one of my great readings (a period in my life where for some period of time I read in abundance, to then not read for some time in any significant amount). I read the first three chapters (my bookmark was still there when I started to read it again) and I thought the prose was terrible. Not untalented but horr ...more
Leslie Reese
Jun 29, 2012 Leslie Reese rated it liked it
This book is racy and descriptive and full of witty, brilliant, idiosyncratic, and successful artists (---and a little white dog named Mr. Ward-Davies---) who experience great worldly adventures...until tragedy strikes---they are the lost flamingoes. The narrative is loaded with words from the Indian lexicon, and I wished that a glossary had been included. It’s all about being hip and brash and indulgent. Siddharth Dhanvaht Shanghvi’s writing style has some good metaphors and plenty of newly-cra ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Danielle rated it liked it
I read this book for one of my book clubs. It's a good thing that I did because in our discussion of the book we discovered that only one of us actually really realized what had happened at the end of the book on our own. One person did actually get the meaning from the text, one realized it after reading the discussion questions included in the book, and the rest of us apparently completely misinterpreted what happened.

If you haven't figured out already based on that introduction this book is
Oct 13, 2011 Cmorice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Dans les marais, les flamants roses sont les symboles tenaces d’un Bombay qui est devenu Mumbai. C’est dans les quartiers huppés que Karan Seth, venu saisir avec son appareil l’esprit de la mégapole, va croiser ses modèles : Samar, pianiste, excentrique, homosexuel ; la star de Bollywood, Zaira, et Rhea, dont les frustrations d’épouse l’entraînent dans une relation avec le jeune photographe. L’assassinat de Zaira va bouleverser ce microcosme mondain et faire remonter à la surface tous les non-di
Jan 12, 2011 Chaitali rated it liked it
I don't know if it would be fair to compare this one with " The Last song of dusk". I would say the book did not disappoint me ; but something stopped me from falling in love with it. It starts with great notes; great story line and when you reach part two it becomes just another story drawing resemblance to Jessica Lal murder case. By the time you reach part three; it tries to recapture your attention but it is too late.

Having said that it is full of lovely lines, the sketch of complexity of re
Jun 07, 2012 Sadia27 rated it did not like it

I picked this book up thinking it would be a refreshing read. To my disappointment, I was wrong. The Lost Flamingoes Of Bombay was a terribly slow and painful read. Moreover, I found it to be scattered and all over the place. There is just too much going on in the book and none of it ties in nicely. Smack dab in the middle of the book you find the author throwing in the murder of Jessica Lal and then the incident is lost somewhere else amidst all that was going on in the book. It was frustratin
Jan 27, 2013 Samudra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shanghavi definitely has a flair for language, and there are some absolutely beautiful lines sprinkled liberally throughout this book. Sample this - "Time is how we spend love. Everything else is just scenery."

While this book is mainly about and redeemed by the portrayal of the relationships between four main characters, what I found profoundly ugly and vulgar was the thin veil of fiction put over real life tragedies. The whole of part 2 is as if someone put makeup on a victim of an acid attack.
Jan 25, 2016 Mary rated it it was ok
I was impressed by the authors who offered blurbs for this book--Amy Tan calling it a triumph? Sign me up! Unfortunately, I thought the whole thing was horrifically overwrought (and went on a little long). The dialog was campy and the prose was purple. I found myself rolling my eyes, which was a shame, because buried beneath all the drama is a really touching story of interesting, sad characters and their sad lives. What I was impressed with, by the end, is the way the author conveyed the things ...more
Nikhilesh Sinha
Mar 31, 2011 Nikhilesh Sinha rated it liked it
This is an odd attempt to create a literary coup via an ill-advised uprooting of the events of the Jessica Lal murder case from the appropriately contiguous social context of Delhi, and a rude thrusting of them, willy-nilly into the vastly different socio-cultural ethos of Mumbai. Jessica transformed into a nubile but 'intellectual' reigning bollywood star with a best friend who is a gay pianist. Mr Sanghvi would be capapble of interesting and even engaging prose, if he wasn't quite so self-indu ...more
Willy Williams
Sep 05, 2010 Willy Williams rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fiction
From my LJ review: Shanghvi's second novel (after the award-winning The Last Song of Dusk) is a bit of a mishmash, an awkward mix of Thackerian social satire (think an Indian Vanity Fair without Becky Sharp) and Fitzgeraldian melancholy (the lonely protagonists hang out at a club called Gatsby). But it's also a passionate love letter to a teeming megacity in all its gritty beauty and ugliness. The sometimes purple prose is flavored with colorful Hindu dialect (a glossary for non-Indian readers w ...more
Jun 09, 2011 Rahul rated it it was amazing
Its a splendid book with a tight narrative and an amazing plot, the lucidity of the language and the skillful description of the characters makes it all the more an experience to read. And the way intertwined lives of these different characters blends into the magnificent city of Bombay, spellbinds you. With reference to popular culture stories and current event, the author has weaved a rich fabric of emotions, nostalgia and compassion, towards thyself and towards the beloved ALIVE metropolis of ...more
Ganesh Rao
May 01, 2013 Ganesh Rao rated it really liked it
A poignant tale of four characters and the see saws of their relationships in the backdrop of major events that significantly affect their lives. At first it may seem slow and verbose; indeed Shangavi's metaphors are sometimes quite colorful ,at times quite gross and many times complex and unfathomable. Nevertheless once you plod through the first half , it does kind of endear you as it did to me ; I began to identify and relate with aspects of many of the characters'- their desires, their disli ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Alison rated it liked it
This grew on me - it's the story of three people from different social circles whose lives happen intersect, and how they're all affected by a murder. At first I wasn't sure if I would like it - the novel starts out in a Hollywood-type atmosphere, with famous rich people being as witty and scandalous as possible. But once you get past that opening, the main characters are interesting people, and I was drawn into the story. All of the characters go through some major changes in their lives, and w ...more
Amy Warrick
Jul 27, 2011 Amy Warrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

For me, reading a book set in India is like joining a group of people who all know each other, and whom I haven't met before. I feel like I am missing the in-jokes, and some code words, and don't quite appreciate the wit. Then I get to know them a little and then when I go home I miss them, very much. So it was with this one. A tough beginning, and a good ending...

This was a lovely, melancholy it about love, and how people recognize it, and redemption; or is it about loneliness, and m
Apr 25, 2012 Nicole added it
I really wanted to like this book. The title, "The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay" is creative and enticing. The description and reviews made this book seem interesting. This book has everything that should make up a good read: murder, the movies, love, homosexuality, sex, passion, anger, hatred, betrayal and tragedy. But for all that the novel was empty. Most disturbing were the very strange sexual metaphors and descriptions, each more gross than the other. Please take my word for it. This is coming ...more
May 13, 2015 Whitney rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, india
A sad and beautiful account of the lives of an eclectic group of friends in contemporary Bombay. Admired the development of all the characters as well as the author's ability to bring the politics and social milieu of the city to life. Rings true as well as bitingly critical. Also appreciated the character's musings on the meaning of life, love and friendship. ("Only the end of the world is the end of the world.") Sometimes the prose turns a bit purple, however, and the last quarter of the book ...more
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Shanghvi was born in Juhu, Mumbai, India in 1977. He is an alumnae of Mumbai’s Mithibai College, and later pursued an MA in International Journalism at the University of Westminster, London, where he specialised in Photography in 1999.
He is an Indian author in English-language whose notable books include, The Last Song of Dusk and The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay. His book, The Last Song of Dusk, has
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“He imagined that the people here would never die: they would simply evaporate into the carnal smoke of the music, their loins wrapped around each other, self and sorrow abandoned to the roar of lust.” 0 likes
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