I'll begin by saying I certainly respect the author, he has received much acclaim for his work. The book presented a couple themes I love, the circus, and India. The author certainly created characters I grew to care about because I wanted to stop reading it after I gave it 150 pages of my time, but I couldn't bring myself to stop " in case" it got better. Once Nancy's character was introduced I was really drawn in, but not enough for me to really like it. I can fault the male narrator, and the human flaws of all the characters, and there were many, because I know I don't respond well to either of those themes. Worth a read, I think the author is excessively wordy and detailed, but some people might love that aspect of the book. Try it.
I have to be honest...it sounded good to me, but I only got maybe 1/4 of the way and I quit. I did get some laughs out of it though and even now I'm smiling remembering one "scene." A short review from the book, "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. Periodicallly, 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." Now that I re-read it, I'm thinking maybe I didn't give it a good enough chance...but NO. The reading is now up to you! What I read about was Dr. Daruwalla trying to get blood samples from dwarfs, mostly in the circus in Bombay. I don't remember any crippled children in the story and I never got as far as any murder. Have fun!
From the back of the book part of a New York Newsday review:
"Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla, reared in Bombay by maverick foes of tradition, educated in Vienna, married to an Austrian and long a resident of Toronto, is a 59-year-old without a country, culture or religion to call his own...
The novel may not be 'about' India, but Irving's remarkable achievement - a pandemonium of servants and slubmen, dwarf clowns and transvestite whores, missionaries and move stars. This is a land of energetic colliding egos, of moderm media clashing with ancient cultures, of broken sexual boundaries"
"Ringmaster Irving introduces act after act, until three (or more) rings are awirl at a lunatic pace...(He) spills characters from his imagination as agilely as improbable numbers of clowns pile out of a tiny car...His Bombay and his Indian characters are vibrant and convincing.: -- THE WALL STREET JOURNAL