Wednesday, May 23, 2012

book review: The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki

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) 
Source: purchased

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  1. Heard so much about this author. I'll keep her books in mind as you have written a positive review about this book. She is coming to our local library on the beginning of July 2012.

    1. JoV, I'm curious to try her other longlisted books. This one was an interesting read, but I'm not sure I know who she is as an author yet.

  2. I find it more difficult to read books that reveal the ending at the beginning. There's a sort of impatience I feel as I read, knowing where everything is supposed to end up. However, seems like Farooki does a good job keeping the journey more interesting than the destination.

    1. Jenna, often when the end is revealed and I like the book, I forget I know the ending already (in books and films). Here, I never forgot, but I was still interesting.

  3. I've always been fascinated by books and movies about grifters, and would love to see what I think about this one. It seems a very brave move to start the book with the conclusion of the story, but I have read books that have used this tactic before and have been surprisingly delighted by them. Wonderful review today. This one is going on my list for sure!

    1. I'm fascinated by grifters too, Zibilee! Even though I didn't totally love this one, there's something about it that drew me in and has kept me coming back to ponder it more.


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