Ana's Reviews > A Son of the Circus

A Son of the Circus by John Irving
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's review
Apr 13, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: heard
Read in April, 2009

My decision to listen to this audiobook happened on the spur of the moment. It had to do with a really great sale at that was going to end in a few hours, and the fact that I am part Parsi. I didn't have any familiarity with Irving, only a vague, mild, positive feeling based on the fact that I read The World According to Garp ages ago and someone I respect once told me that A Prayer for Owen Meany was one of her favorite books.

In the preface, Irving explains that the Indian setting is a work of research--he's only spent a few weeks in the country. Oddly, that seemed only to enhance my connection with the work, because I've only spent a few weeks there myself. Choosing a Parsi as his protagonist seems like a great choice for a character who doesn't feel that he belongs anywhere--not in his homeland of India (where the Parsis are a very small minority), not in Toronto, where he has lived for many years. The strength of his affections for the people he meets and the strength of his insecurities are expressed in a way that I recognize so personally. The adventures, and misadventures, that result from his hobby of studying a certain type of dwarfism and his subsequent infatuation with the circus, take on a kind of surreal momentum that is often hilarious, despite the horrifying murders that take place and the misery that is constantly present in India.

The book is nicely read, with good comic timing. I wished a little that the actor had been actually Indian, so that that lilt could have been the foundations of the narration, rather than an accent that was put on for dialogue. I didn't find it offensive, just less natural than it could have been.
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