The Song of Kahunsha
It is 1993 and Bombay is threatened by terrorism and sectarian strife. 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 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 by a desire to find his father and the dream of his Kahunsha, Chamdi struggles for survival on Bombay’s streets. But when he is caught up in the beginnings of the violence that will soon engulf the city, his dreams confront reality.
Wonderfully rich in the sights and sounds of Bombay, The Song of Kahunsha is a poignant story of hopes and dreams, and of the fragility of childhood innocence.
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Praise and Prizes
“A gripping and compassionate novel that will resonate long after readers have completed it . . . It calls to mind Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance.”
“Impressive . . . A fast, compelling read and a wonderful introduction to the streets of Bombay.”
“With understated skill, Anosh Irani tells such a darkly enchanting story of the abandoned children of Bombay that I felt swept away by their fate and entangled in the world’s too believable cruelty toward the innocent. Irani’s shocking tale unfolds with a macabre and terrifying beauty that is both heartbreaking and compelling.”
“Beautiful . . . It vindicates the fragile but triumphant scope of childhood imagination with touching grace.”
“Pure storytelling . . . Anosh Irani rewrites Dickens’s Oliver Twist, with Irani’s native city of Bombay replacing 19th century London.”
“An exquisitely written and forever haunting adaptation of Oliver Twist to the violent slumlands of Bombay.”