Synopses & Reviews
Thirteen passengers are stranded at an airport. Tokyo, their destination, is covered in snow and all flights are cancelled. To pass the night they form a huddle by the silent baggage carousels and tell one another stories. Thus begins Rana Dasgupta's Canterbury Tales for our times.
In the spirit of Borges and Calvino, Dasgupta's writing combines an energetically modern landscape with a timeless, beguiling fairy-tale ethos, while bringing to life a cast of extraordinary individuals-some lost, some confused, some happy-in a world that remains ineffable, inexplicable, and wonderful.
A Ukrainian merchant is led by a wingless bird back to a lost lover; Robert De Niro's son masters the transubstantiation of matter and turns it against his enemies; a man who manipulates other people's memories has to confront his own past; a Japanese entrepreneur risks losing everything in his obsession with a doll; a mute Turkish girl is left alone in the house of a German man who is mapping the world.
Told by people on a journey, these are stories about lives in transit, stories that grow into an epic cycle about the hopes and dreams and disappointments that connect people everywhere.
"Dasgupta spins a self-consciously modern tapestry of freewheeling fantasies and subverted fairy tales with his ambitious first book. When a severe blizzard in Tokyo diverts a 747 to a remote airport, the stranded passengers gather around the baggage carousel to trade the sort of stories that strangers don't typically swap, unless one's fellow travelers are Beckett and Borges. Refracting the contemporary world's metropolises through a dystopian once-upon-a-time sensibility, Dasgupta tackles themes of transit, dislocation and uprootedness. His critique of consumerism and the global economy can be humorous: in 'The Store on Madison Avenue,' Robert de Niro's half-Chinese illegitimate son, Pavel, unites with Martin Scorsese and Isabella Rossellini's love child, who eats a magic box of Oreo cookies that transforms her into an upscale New York boutique. Dasgupta takes a more didactic tone in 'The Memory Editor,' about the prodigal son of an investment banker who goes to work for a corporate enterprise called 'MyPast,' which gathers and markets ejected memories when a London of the near future literally loses its sense of history. Other tales discover poignant moments of connection, as when a wingless bird hobbles across Europe to reunite two lost lovers. Though Dasgupta's postmodern stories can be too pat, his sprawling, experimental project achieves an exotic luster. Agent, Jennifer Joel. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Dasgupta, who has lived on several continents, has sufficient imagination to capture the myriad cultural discordances of modern life, and his offerings of dreamlike absurdities and postmodern irony evoke Borges and other modern myth makers." Library Journal
"Dasgupta's themes run the gamut from loss and betrayal to uprootedness and alienation in a magical realist manner that echoes the best of Garcia Marquez and makes for irresistibly absorbing entertainment." Booklist
"Pleasantly weird." Kirkus Reviews
Thirteen passengers stranded at an airport pass the night by forming a huddle by the silent baggage carousels and telling one another stories about the hopes, dreams, and disappointments that connect people everywhere.
About the Author
Rana Dasgupta was born in England in 1971 and grew up in Cambridge. Having lived in France, Malaysia, and the United States, he moved to Delhi in 2001. Tokyo Cancelled is his first novel.