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Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  4,937 ratings  ·  446 reviews
Sampath Chawla was born in a time of drought that ended with a vengeance the night of his birth. All signs being auspicious, the villagers triumphantly assured Sampath's proud parents that their son was destined for greatness.

Twenty years of failure later, that unfortunately does not appear to be the case. A sullen government worker, Sampath is inspired only when in searc
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 18th 1999 by Anchor (first published 1998)
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 ·  4,937 ratings  ·  446 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Chauncey Gardener in India, Sampath is a slacker of the first order, completely lacking in ambition and as distractible as an infant confronted with moving shiny objects. After losing his job in a rather dramatic manner, Sampath wanders up the road until he feels the pull of a guava tree and decides to take up residence. The unknowing manage to project onto him a fully undeserved holiness. A new cult is born as Sampath tosses out meaningless parables in answer to the many questions asked him by ...more
Nov 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Kiran Desai has now written a serious book that shows off her deep thinking and writing skills - the inheritance of loss.

whatever. she had me at Hullabaloo.

this book is funny. Hands down funny. And the mother in the book, reminds me of my mother on her more insane days.

I just realized that in a lot of the books that I love, food plays a role. sometimes a big role. in this book, the mother, kulfi, is an amazing cook who knows no boundaries as to ingredients and spices. hm
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I try my best to respond to the text and not to other readers here, but really negative reviewers? REALLY!? The book is called Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard. Not since Breakin' II: Electric Boogaloo has a work so clearly announced itself as ridiculous. Did you read the back cover? The one that says plainly that this is the tale of a life-long loser who climbs a tree to escape the bastards only to be mistaken for a holy man which is all well and good until the drunken monkeys show up? No, really--the monkeys a ...more
Apr 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-novels
Fairly amusing and fairly brief novel about Sampath, an Indian adolescent, who really does not want to work hard and who would rather laze around. One day he suddenly decides he would like to sit at the top of a guava tree. He stays there and refuses to come down. He begins to be mistaken for a wise man.
There is an air of predictability about this and some of the characters are very formulaic.
There are some very funny moments though and the saga of the drunken monkeys is hilarious. Desai also
Inderjit Sanghera
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The novel begins with the most classical of Indian scenes; that of the murky, muggy monsoon rains; the novel deals with the most eponymous of Indian characters-the spoiled, feckless only son. Somewhere in between this Kiran Desai is able to write a humorous, if not exactly ground-breaking, story of Sampath, a diffident ditherer whose foray into a guava tree transforms him into a a sham spiritualist for the gullible and naive.

Like many only sons Sampath is born under the weighty lode
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: man-booker
What a great balance between wit and lovely literature! I was often reminded of the Magic Realism genre while perusing this work, with it's almost plausible absurdities, a vast array of main characters (mostly related to each other), and its odd reactions to common day events.

I have noticed that unlike their Western counterparts --where there is one or at most two main characters-- most Indian novels feature families or neighborhoods as protagonists. For those of us largely unfamilia
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love Indian fiction
This had an absurd storyline with eccentric characters. I never thought I would like it as much as I did because I am not inclined towards satire and silliness. This book made me realize that beautiful writing can surpass other faults. This is the story of Sampath, an eccentric young man born to a mad woman who has a long genealogy of craziness. He is overwhelmed by ordinary routine and the need for a steady paying job and just runs off to the forest one day and starts living in the branches of ...more
Oct 07, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: booksreadin2007
I'm not sure this really counts as a book I've read since I only made it half way through. It was that silly and slow that I just couldn't make it to the end. Set it India, it would make a great bollywood film and probably be quite funny and entertaining to watch. It's about a young man's quest to escape the chaos of his home and find peace and quiet. He ultimately does this turning into a guava and being taken away by a monkey. While there's great potential for a bollywood film, on paper, it's ...more
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Replace Shahkot with Malgudi and it wouldn't seem out of place. "University research forest", "Hungry Hop", "Gentleman Tailors", a District Collector not yet named, who eventually arrives struggling with his own demons, and the official cook.

This book promised to be loads of fun and it was, helped generously by Desai's excellent prose. The characters are delectably quirky and ordinary in just the right measure, and the usage of magical realism, Rumi-meets-Tao-koans lines, bar cabinet
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fall in love with well-written absurdity.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it liked it
This is first which I have read with a backdrop of Punjab. Being a Punjabi, you pick up an Indian book and you got to know whole backdrop of the book is based in Punjab, you can imagine my feeling. Hullabaloo definitely hits a bit of nostalgia in me, starting from my childhood, getting up and seeing the maze of houses around your roof or adjoining houses with your own wall. There were so many incidents where I could relate to plots and events very well, Marriage especially food Ladooo, pranthas, ...more
Sairam Krishnan
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At least two of my friends say that they don't like Kiran Desai's writing. I don't understand them. I read 'The Inheritance of Loss' before I read this, and I absolutely loved it. It spoke to an angst in me that I myself couldn't have given words to, and there are several passages in the book I hold very close to me.

'Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard' is a very different book; it's an incredible story and written with an amazing mastery of words.
It's not an easily believable stor
Mar 24, 2009 added it
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard was lying in my office library and on a slow work day I decided to give it a read. Written by Kiran Desai, who even jointly won the Betty Trask award for it, Hullabaloo is everything that a book should never be.

It is pretentious, written in a direct vernacular to English translation style and has a story that I had to try very hard to stay connected to.

What is it about? About a Monkey Baba. A young boy from a village called Shahkot suffers
Apr 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard is the first novel by Kiran Desai. In the town of Shahkot, in the shadow of the Himalayan foothills, lives Sampath Chawla, a bored, dreamy Post Office clerk distinguishing himself with lacklustre career ambitions. When he manages to lose his job, his father, Mr Chawla, despairs that his son will ever amount to anything; his mother, Kulfi, says little, but then, she did come from a mad family; his sister Pinky finds him irritating and exasperating; his paternal gra ...more
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Chapter 3 +4 :

The life of the Indian family is told. The father who gives commands, the children trying to keep up with his demands and the crazy mother thinking of food.

All in all chapter 3 reads itself fluently and it gives a nice, but a bit strange and boring view over the life of a paysan family in the Himalaya.

In the next chapter the life in the city Shahkot is told, little, but interesting and funny things happening at the end Sampath looses his work. ...more
Vj Krishnan
It was dragging to start with, where it looked like the author was padding out the narrative unnecessarily while the plot itself stagnated, but 1/3 into the book, things got a lot more interesting.

This book takes a light hearted approach to one of India's many charms: gurus, the individuals who pursue/have attained enlightenment, and how they can end up being one without claiming anything to that effect. Young Sampath is not successful at school nor work, hates being stuc
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
since the book was set in shahkot, north india(the capital of divine religious cultures and morals) one would expect the book to be have a wide range of religious themes, settings etc however desai employs a much different setting. she completely turns around and lowers the prestige pattern of hinduism as a religion and culture that was set in books known for this such as 'a passage to india'.
the book's main genre is comedy and that is the device she uses in potraying the indian beliefs.
Raksha Bhat
The extreme sarcasm of silliness in an Indian civil society was the essence in this book which kept me laughing while reading. While at some moments I felt the story was going nowhere with all the ear biting and monkey cooking, it took me a while to realize well maybe that was the whole idea about the book- Humour out of nothingness. Who fell in the cauldron though!?!
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, 2018
A charming little book that provides a nice distraction from heavier reading. Smiled through quite a bit of this one.
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard was a fun, quick read, full of self-deprecating humor and a sprinkle of fairy(tale) dust. There is a very small undercurrent of seriousness (for example the few pages on how to choose a bride, and how prospective brides should behave), but otherwise it's one big drama that reminds one of, for want of any better comparison, a Bollywood movie. As long as you don't go looking for hidden meanings, you will be able to sit back and enjoy it as a lighthearted, frivolous read.
Nov 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wow. I did not expect "Hullabaloo" to turn out like that. It was so surprising and a page turner by the end of the book, much unlike the beginning. In the middle, the book was a bit confusing with all the new chapters being introduced but you seem to understand everything by the end which was clever of Desai, how she brang everything together at the end. Sampath is an unusual character trying to find himself so he climbs a guava tree an decides to live there. His father is against this but his m ...more
I thought the story till now was interesting, though I'm still confused about the significanse of everything. However, I'm sure that they'll be revealed soon enough and that the story will have a mind-capturing pace and beat. I deeply appreciate the relation to nature in the story; the monsoon and the heatwave before. The authors descriptive language is really one to admire because of the use of metaphors and similies, especially the fashion in which the author depicted the rain, as peacockishly ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
this book was rather entertaining... it helps the mind look beyond the obvious and try to make sense of little details that at first one would consider insignificant. it certainly changed my perception of the world or any other piece of literature for that matter... Miss Randa if you're reading this, then yes i have become under the influence of over analytical thinking thank you :P
the book asks of each person what he/she might consider the meaning or purpose of their life, and as odd and stran
Nov 25, 2011 rated it liked it
The first two chapters of “Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard” by Kiran Desai caught my attention, and left me eager to know how the story will unfold. As I progressed I started to find the book completely meaningless, and felt like the novel was getting nowhere. While reading I thought all the mischief the monkeys were causing we quite humorous but stupid at the same time. I disliked the book so much to an extent that if reading it wasn’t obligatory I would of given up on the book ages ago, but I’ ...more
Jo-Ann Zhou
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
The author wrote the story in a funny way. How ridiculous that people treat a unintelligent 20 year-old boy as a kind of living god! Even more ridiculous is that people are reciting what he said as mortal. Also, in the end, everything was ruined by a group of alcoholic monkeys.

Given that I had never read something about India, it's interesting experience to read. It's good to understand other cultures by authors from that country, though the author is also biased by her or his own ed
Natasha Ghawi
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it
From the beginning of the book to the middle I found the book boring. However as I continued to read the book, it slowly but surely became interesting. To be honest if I was given this book by a person and they told me to read it, I would have put it down by the first chapter.I think that the monkeys getting drunk was nothing big but just an idea to add a bit of humor into the book.
No one believes the grandmother when she tells them that Sampath will be successful but he is taking a bit mo
Mohammed Elchammaa
Nov 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Well I must say putting down this book was harder than picking it up the first time, towards the end I had grown fond of the book and had found it very diverting, a sharp contrast to when I was posting comments on how it was boring, I feel as if the author wrote this as “India for dummies “ . In the book Desai explores the theme of how doing one thing can lead to chaos or in this case hullabaloo, a strong example would be the ending. I also found the book ambiguous from the begging towards the e ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-fiction
Everything I want in a book: engaging characters, a bit of a plot, a little fun, a tiny bit of underlying seriousness. Sampath Chawla has grown up to become quite a disappointment to his family. He works in a post office where he spends most of his time reading the mail that comes through the office. His father is in despair; Sampath has no ambition. One day, Sampath leaves his job and, almost without thinking much about it, climbs up into a guava tree. He doesn't come down. As time passes, a my ...more
Dec 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this absolutely delightful and very interesting novel that pulls you right in from the first chapter. Here's a little taste:

But Ammaji, who had just been handed a nice chocolate cone by the Hungry Hop boy, ran with the cone--not that this mattered, for he monkey ignored her and ran after Pinky instead, even though she was without any food products whatsoever. He grabbed hold of her dupatta and held tight as she screamed like a train and pounded down the bazaar st
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Ms Desai's satire of village life in India and found most of the characters lovable. I liked the mother Kulfi who is as liberated as her son, Sampath, when he escapes his stultifying job and smothering family to live in a guava tree. She cooks amazinly wierd concoctions while he becomes an unwitting holy man. The father schemes to turn the situation into a money making venture. Everyone flocks to here Sampath's quirky pronouncements and everyone is happy until a the monkeys arrive and ...more
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Kiran Desai is an Indian author who is a citizen of India and a permanent resident of the United States. She is the daughter of the noted author Anita Desai.

Desai's first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard (1998), gained accolades from notable figures including Salman Rushdie, and went on to receive the Betty Trask Award. Her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss (2006), won the 2006 Man Booker Prize
“You can catch more flies with honey than with sour milk” 11 likes
“Then, if she has fulfilled all the requirements for a sound character and impressive accomplishments, if her parents have agreed to meet all the necessary financial contributions, if the fortune tellers have decided the stars are lucky and the planets are compatible, everyone can laugh with relief and tilt her face up by the chin and say she is exactly what they have been looking for, that she will be a daughter to their household. This, after all, is the boy’s family. They’re entitled to their sense of pride.” 1 likes
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