‘The Parcel’ by Anosh Irani


Genre: Fiction

This is a new release by an acclaimed and award-winning author and playwright

Anoshi Irani was born and raised in Bombay, India until he moved to Vancouver in 1998. His novel ‘The Song of Kahunsha” was nominated for a number of awards and a bestseller in Canada, China and Italy. “The Parcel” has already been nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize

The story is set in Bombay in the swollen, crumbling red-light district of Kamathipura. The protagonist Madhu is given the difficult task by her housemother to prepare a newly arrived ‘parcel’ for its opening- the parcel is a ten year old girl sold into the sex trade by her aunt

Madhu’s home is Hijra House- one of the last houses where ‘hijras’- people of the third sex- ply their trade. Now 40 and with her looks fading, Madhu struggles with the task she has been given as she is confronted with memories of her past and the rejection of her family

This is a gritty and powerful novel that has deep and wonderfully imagined characters. It gives a dark look into Kamathipura’s Hijra community

Hijra is the South Asian name for a transgender individual who was assigned male at birth. In many languages of India other terms are used. In 2014, in parts of Asia, governments hijras are officially recognized as the third gender. They have a long, recorded history in the Indian subcontinent

In South Asia, Hijras live in well-defined and organized communities led by a guru. These communities survive by ‘adopting’ boys who live in poverty, are rejected by or flee from their family and many work as sex workers for survival. Since the late 20th century Hijra activists have lobbied for official recognition, access to welfare and education

This story has given me a fascinating look into the everyday life of India. Irani uses powerful descriptors to imagine the heat and crowds of Bombay. Irani’s books and plays are all set in different parts of India, so it is not surprising how familiar and accurate the writing feels


-This book gives accessibility into aspects of Indian communities that many readers are unfamiliar with and the style of writing reminds me of Mohsin Hamid who wrote ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ and ‘How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia’ for its candid and gritty style

This book is suited for people who want an example of well-written books and complex, unconventional subject matter!

Highly recommend!


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