The backstory: The Flying Man, Roopa Farooki's fifth novel, was on the 2012 Orange Prize longlist.
The basics: The novel opens in 2012 with Maquil composing a letter shortly before his death, then jumps back to his childhood and moves chronologically through his life.
My thoughts: It's a bold move to begin a novel at the end, and Roopa Farooki mostly succeeds. Maquil is an intriguing character. As he moved around the world, the reader gets a taste of New York, Paris, Cairo, Lahore, Hong Kong and more. At the crux of Maquil is a particularly fascinating notion: few could pinpoint his ethnicity or origin. Were he a blond-haired blue-eyed man, his story would be quite different. His complexion and hair allowed him to be both insider and outsider. His gift for language allowed him to fool most anyone.
My favorite aspect of this novel, however, was seeing Maquil's failures. In stories of grifters, they are so often shown in a dazzling light. Although somewhat light overall, The Flying Man struck me as showing the realities of a life of gambling and name changing. There were moments of glamour, but it's not a glamorous story.
The verdict: The Flying Man succeeds because Maquil is so intriguing. Although the ending is never in question, his winding journey contained enough little twists and large moments of wisdom to keep me intrigued with how Maquil finds his ending.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 352 pages
Publication date: January 19, 2012 (UK--there's no word on U.S. publication yet)
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