Author bio

Anosh Irani

Anosh Irani - book author

Anosh Irani is an Indo-Canadian novelist and playwright.

His novels and plays have garnered much critical and popular acclaim and he is considered to be a rising star in Canadian literature.

He was born and grew up in Mumbai, India in a Parsi family of relatively recent Persian origin (hence the surname Irani), but now makes his home in Vancouver, Canada.

He is a graduate of the University of British Columbia.

Anosh Irani is the author of books: The Parcel, The Song of Kahunsha, The Cripple and His Talismans, Dahanu Road, Translated from the Gibberish: Seven Stories and One Half Truth, The Bombay Plays: Bombay Black & The Matka King, The Men in White, The Bombay Plays


Author books

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01
Finalist for the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and for the Governor General's Literary Award, this powerful new work, about a transgender sex worker in the red-light district of Bombay who is given an unexpected task, is a gripping literary page-turner--difficult and moving, surprising and tender. Anosh Irani's best novel yet, and his first with Knopf Canada.

The Parcel's astonishing heart, soul and unforgettable voice is Madhu--born a boy, but a eunuch by choice--who has spent most of her life in a close-knit clan of transgender sex workers in Kamathipura, the notorious red-light district of Bombay. Madhu identifies herself as a "hijra"--a person belonging to the third sex, neither here nor there, man nor woman. Now, at 40, she has moved away from prostitution, her trade since her teens, and is forced to beg to support the charismatic head of the hijra clan, Gurumai. One day Madhu receives a call from Padma Madam, the most feared brothel owner in the district: a "parcel" has arrived--a young girl from the provinces, betrayed and trafficked by her aunt--and Madhu must prepare it for its fate. Despite Madhu's reluctance, she is forced to take the job by Gurumai. As Madhu's emotions spiral out of control, her past comes back to haunt her, threatening to unravel a lifetime's work and identity. This is a dark, devastating but ultimately redemptive novel that promises to be one of the most talked-about publications of the year.
02
Abandoned as an infant, ten-year-old Chamdi has spent his entire life in a Bombay orphanage. There he has learned to find solace in his everyday surroundings: the smell of the first rains, the vibrant pinks and reds of the bougainvilleas that blossom in the courtyard, the life-size statue of Jesus, the "beautiful giant," to whom he confides his hopes and fears in the prayer room. Though he rarely ventures outside the orphanage, he entertains an idyllic fantasy of what the city is like – a paradise he calls Kahunsha, "the city of no sadness," where children play cricket in the streets and where people will become one with all the colours known to man.

Chamdi’s quiet life takes a sudden turn, however, when he learns that the orphanage will be shut down by land developers. He decides that he must run away in search of his long-lost father, taking nothing with him but the blood-stained white cloth he was left in as a baby.

Outside the walls of the orphanage, Chamdi quickly discovers that Bombay is nothing like Kahunsha. The streets are filthy and devoid of colour, and no one shows him an ounce of kindness. Just as he’s about to faint from hunger, two seasoned street children offer help: the lovely, sarcastic Guddi and her brother, the charming, scarred, and crippled Sumdi. After their father was crushed by a car before their eyes, the children were left to care for their insane mother and their infant brother. They soon initiate Chamdi into the brutal life of the city’s homeless, begging all day and handing over most of his earnings to Anand Bhai, a vicious underworld don who will happily mutilate or kill whoever dares to defy him.

Determined to escape the desperation, filth, and violence of their lives, Guddi and Sumdi recruit Chamdi into their plot to steal from a temple. But when the robbery goes terribly awry, Chamdi finds himself in an even worse situation. The city has erupted in Hindu-Muslim violence and, held in Anand Bhai’s fierce grip, Chamdi is presented with a choice that threatens to rob him of his innocence forever.
03
Prepare to enter a world where the norms of human behavior—even the rules governing time and gravity—are set on their heads. This dark and wry fable begins with the narrator waking up and discovering he is missing an arm. He has no idea how he lost it or how to find it—but as he searches the chaotic, often surreal streets of Bombay, he meets an absurd and marvelous cast of characters who offer him clues: a woman selling rainbows, a beggar living under an egg cart, a coffin maker who builds finger-sized caskets, a giant who lives underwater, a homeless boy riding the rails. They all lead him to Baba Rakhu, master of the underworld, who will reveal the story of his lost arm—for a price.

Funny and wise, violent and tender, The Cripple and His Talismans is an impressive debut. A bestseller in Canada, it has been compared to the works of Samuel Beckett, Lewis Carroll, and Salman Rushdie.
04
“The only statement of revolt the poor could make was to put an end to their own misery. It happened all the time—men lay themselves on train tracks, hanged themselves from trees, consumed rat poison, and women set their kerosene-soaked bodies alight in front of their husbands. These were blazing ends to insignificant journeys. But in all this, there was always one man who, in that final gush of blood, in that final breaking of neck and bone, set things in motion.”

Zairos Irani, a young man of inherited leisure, is meandering through his family’s lush chickoo orchards near Mumbai when he comes across a distressing sight: Hanging from one of the fruit trees is the lifeless body of Ganpat, a worker from the indigenous Warli tribe. Ganpat’s ancestors once owned the land, before his father’s alcohol debts caused the deed to be transferred to Zairos’s grandfather Shapur. The two family destinies have been entwined ever since, ancient grudges once again awoken by Ganpat’s final desperate act.

Zairos feels obliged to notify Ganpat’s family before the authorities come to ask needless questions and extract bribes. A tractor bearing Ganpat’s sister and anguished daughter Kusum soon trundles into the orchard, and when Kusum alights, Zairos’s curiosity is piqued. As a landowner, he knows that he is well above her station, and yet her dignity and beauty lead him to cast aside taboos and risk the wagging tongues of neighbourhood gossips. Though wary at first, the grieving Kusum comes to return his affection, asking only that he assist her in achieving what her dead father could not- by putting an end to the violence she has endured at the hands of a drunken husband.

Zairos cannot get advice from his father Aspi, whose clownishness masks thinly-veiled nihilism. Nor can he confide in his beloved grandfather Shapur, whose massive hands planted the chickoo trees that he adores as much as his own sons. Shapur built the family empire from a desperate start as an orphaned refugee, and any act that might threaten the delicate legacy spawned by his sacrifices would only provoke rage in the old man, who increasingly dwells in memories. So Zairos whiles away his time at Anna’s, the local haunt for the male leisure class, dreaming of a future with Kusum. There, with the support of some equally underemployed sidekicks, Zairos hatches a scheme to scare Kusum’s husband into releasing her, while keeping his own moral integrity intact. But alas, Zairos’s scheme will not unfold as planned, and along the way he will unwittingly expose family secrets that may well be better left buried…

With brilliant gusto, Irani has built his Dahanu Road upon the pathways forged by authors of tragicomic romance spanning centuries and continents, from the Persian classic Layla and Majnun, to Romeo and Juliet to Wuthering Heights. Dahanu Road is a suspense-filled family saga, a sprawling romantic epic in which the delineations between the oppressor and the oppressed, or between love and hate, are demonstrated to be maddeningly deceptive.
05
The bestselling author of The Parcel writes, for the first time, about Canada as well as India in this unforgettable collection of seven moving stories and one "half truth" (a semi-fictional "translation" of what it means to be an immigrant).

Twenty years ago, to the mystification of family and friends, Anosh Irani took off for a city where he knew no one: Vancouver, Canada. His plan was both grand and impractical: he would reinvent himself as a writer. Miraculously, Irani did just that, publishing acclaimed novels and plays set in his hometown of Bombay--but not without paying a price and radically changing his world view.

In these seven stunning stories, Irani for the first time explores the fractured experience of living between worlds, India and Canada. We meet a swimming instructor determined to reenact John Cheever's iconic short story "The Swimmer" in the pools of Mumbai; a famous Indian chef who breaks down on a New York talk show; a gangster's wife who believes a penguin at the Mumbai zoo is the reincarnation of her lost child; an illegal immigrant in Vancouver who is drawn into a fateful game of cricket; and a kindly sweets-maker whose hope for a new life in Canada leads to a terrible choice. The book starts and ends with a gorgeous, emotionally raw "translation" to the page of the author's own experience as an immigrant, blurring the line between fiction and fact. Translated from the Gibberish confirms Anosh Irani as a unique, inventive, vitally important voice in contemporary fiction.
06
Bombay Black is a love story between a blind man and a dancer. He is linked to her past and his secret threatens to change each of their lives forever. In a story that pits human nature against love and chance, The Matka King reveals a landscape of betrayal and redemption come to life in the red-light district of Bombay, India.
07
FINALIST, GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARD FOR DRAMA


In the latest play from Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Anosh Irani, we meet eighteen-year-old Hasan Siddiqui, who lives in a bustling Muslim quarter of Bombay. He escapes the drudgery of his work at a chicken slaughterhouse by fostering two fervent dreams — to become a star in cricket, a sport at which he happens to excel, and to win the affections of Haseena, a fiercely intelligent young woman two years his junior. When it comes to her, however, he is not so proficient, and Hasan’s close-to-nonexistent prospects — along with the rather unfortunate setting of their budding romance, Baba’s Chicken Centre — make advancing either cause look impossible.


Half a world away in Vancouver, Hasan’s older brother, Abdul, has been working under the table at an Indian restaurant, attempting to set down roots with the hope of one day reuniting with his brother. For Abdul the immigrant dream shows little sign of materializing, but he finds solace in his amateur cricket team. When he and the team’s captain decide to take action to end their losing streak, they talk of recruiting the talented Hasan for the rest of the season. But bringing Hasan from India to Canada will take much more than just a plane ticket, and rising tensions demonstrate that not all members of the team agree with the high cost.


Alternating between Bombay and Vancouver and exploring urgent themes surrounding the complexities of the modern immigrant experience, Islamophobia, and racial violence, The Men in White is by turns disarming, hilarious, and brutally poignant — the masterful playwright and novelist Anosh Irani at his finest.
08
In The Matka King a landscape of betrayal and redemption comes to life via an illicit lottery in the red-light district of Bombay, India.

In Bombay Black, when a mysterious blind man named Kamal visits Bombay’s most infamous dancer for a private dance, his secret link to her past threatens to change their lives forever.