The Song of Kahunsha

The Song of Kahunsha

Book - 2006
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From one of Canada's brightest new literary stars -- a startling and beautiful novel about abandonment, poverty, and violence, as well as loyalty, love, and hope, as seen through the eyes of a young homeless boy. It is 1993 and Bombay is on the verge of being torn apart by racial violence. Ten-year-old Chamdi has rarely ventured outside his orphanage, and entertains an idyllic fantasy of what the city is like beyond its garden walls -- a paradise he calls Kahunsha, "the city of no sadness." But when he runs away to search for his long-lost father, he finds himself thrust into the chaos of the streets, alone, possessing only the blood-stained cloth he was left in as a baby. There Chamdi meets Sumdi and Guddi, brother and sister who beg in order to provide for their sick mother, and the three become fast friends. Fueled only by a desire to find his father and the dream that Bombay will someday become Kahunsha, Chamdi struggles for survival on its brutal streets. But when he is caught up in the beginnings of the savage violence that will soon engulf the city, his dreams confront reality. Moving, poignant, and wonderfully rich in the sights and sounds of Bombay,The Song of Kahunshais a compelling story of hopes and dreams, and of the fragility of childhood innocence.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, c2006.
ISBN: 9780385662284
Branch Call Number: IRANI
Characteristics: 311 p.


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Sep 14, 2019

Extraordinarily tough book to read. It is about child beggars on the streets of Bombay (Mumbai) being hounded by criminals and gangsters of the most brutal kind and corrupt and venal police, politicians and priests. I have read this author's more recent book "The Parcel" which also tackles a very tough subject. But the protagonists in the latter are not children and there are interesting characters in that book which, in my mind, is vastly superior to The Song of Kahunsha. The Song has no adult characters with any sense of morality or humanity. Furthermore, the writing in The Parcel is far superior to the earlier book and makes it highly readable, in spite of its subject matter. Having said that, I have deliberately not rated this book, simply because the subject matter is so important and Irani has at least brought the terrible condition of child beggars in India, and I suspect in many other countries.
ps: I now find a rating of 3 stars above my comments. I have no idea how this came about. In the Completed folder where I made my comments I did not rate this book. I don't agree with a rating of 3.

May 01, 2013

Chamdi is ten years old and has lived cloistered in a Bombay orphanage all his life. When he hears the orphanage is closing he decides to go and search for his father out in the city, a city he has never been. Although he is met with ugly reality he never loses sight of Kahunsha, the magical place he has envisioned where all is colour and light. This is an easy read but leaves you with a clear picture of the poverty, violence and desparation Chamdi finds. Life there is hard.

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