Dancing to the Flute

Manisha Jolie Amin. Atria, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4516-7204-6
Kalu, a young orphan in the fictional Indian village of Hastinapore, finds kindness among strangers who recognize his preternatural musical talent in Amin’s debut novel. Eschewing the services of a drunken village doctor, Kalu is brought to a local healer for treatment of his potentially crippling foot condition. Instead of demanding a payment, the healer encourages Kalu to leave the village and study the flute under the healer’s brother, who is an accomplished musician. Kalu agrees to leave, heading into the mountains to meet the guruji who will test his mettle and teach him proper technique. While Kalu possesses the potential to be great, his ability to harness the full breadth of his talent hinges on his reaction to tragedy. Amin weaves a lovely and subtle tale of music’s power and magic, using elements of traditional raag forms as the basis for the novel’s structure. Though primarily an uplifting tale, one in which Kalu makes for a charismatic protagonist despite himself, Amin provides an oft-unseen glimpse of the realities of life in contemporary rural India. Agent: Selwa Anthony, Selwa Anthony Pty Ltd. (Australia) (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/03/2012
Release date: 02/05/2013
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