DANCING TO THE FLUTE by MANISHA JOLIE AMIN.
SOURCE: Received for review from ALMA BOOKS.
An unforgettable story of three young friends making their way in the world – told with warmth, music, clarity and simplicity: it speaks directly to the heart.
Abandoned as a young child, the street urchin Kalu has, against all odds, carved out a life for himself in rural India. One day, a travelling healer overhears Kalu playing a melody through a rolled-up banyan leaf and encourages him to build on his raw musical talent. This chance encounter will lead Kalu on an amazing voyage of self-discovery.
A colourful evocation of India and its people, Dancing to the Flute is a magical, heartwarming story of a country’s joys and sorrows, the nature of friendship and the astonishing transformative powers of music.
...... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1: Part 1): Kula stood still, staring up into the banyan tree, oblivious to the sounds around him or to the man resting against one of the tree's many trunks.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 182): On the first Sunday of each month, at 3 p.m, she would make her way to red phone booth on the street corner near the paan-waala. There Suresh Bhai, who sat at the booth, would dial the number of a phone booth in a village near her parents' home. Both her mother and father would be there waiting to hear from her, having walked an hour to reach the booth.
MY THOUGHTS: Cleverly written in that each part of the novel (the 'Aalamp, the 'Antara', the 'Bol Bandh') mimics a part of the Raag, a melodic type of Indian music, links to which can be found on the author's website. Despite the fact that the power of music and its effect on people was extremely compelling my only disappointment was that certain sections of the book tended to rely more on an interest in the music itself as opposed to the characters.
Essentially but not exclusively Dancing To the Flute is the tale of a young boy. A 'street kid', little better than a beggar, who because of an infected foot finds himself unable to work and reliant on the generosity of those for whom he runs errands. As a story about the power of music it follows Kalu who despite all of the hardships life throws at him always has his 'flute'.
Whilst Kalu's story is indeed an interesting one, his journey as he transcends the caste system fascinating, even more gripping was the interweaving of Hindu folklore and in particular Malti's story which rather like the raag itself unfolded slowly, gradually building to something of a crescendo.
Despite this being an evocative story of much simpler times, of a community still living very much according to traditional values, it is in fact a piece of contemporary fiction that does not shy away from addressing several social issues.
Disclaimer: Read and reviewed on behalf of publishers, Alma Books, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.
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