Dahanu Road: A novel

Front Cover
Doubleday Canada, Mar 30, 2010 - Fiction - 320 pages
2 Reviews

“The only statement of revolt the poor could make was to put an end to their own misery. It happened all the time—men lay themselves on train tracks, hanged themselves from trees, consumed rat poison, and women set their kerosene-soaked bodies alight in front of their husbands. These were blazing ends to insignificant journeys. But in all this, there was always one man who, in that final gush of blood, in that final breaking of neck and bone, set things in motion.” 
Zairos Irani, a young man of inherited leisure, is meandering through his family’s lush chickoo orchards near Mumbai when he comes across a distressing sight: Hanging from one of the fruit trees is the lifeless body of Ganpat, a worker from the indigenous Warli tribe. Ganpat’s ancestors once owned the land, before his father’s alcohol debts caused the deed to be transferred to Zairos’s grandfather Shapur. The two family destinies have been entwined ever since, ancient grudges once again awoken by Ganpat’s final desperate act.
Zairos feels obliged to notify Ganpat’s family before the authorities come to ask needless questions and extract bribes. A tractor bearing Ganpat’s sister and anguished daughter Kusum soon trundles into the orchard, and when Kusum alights, Zairos’s curiosity is piqued. As a landowner, he knows that he is well above her station, and yet her dignity and beauty lead him to cast aside taboos and risk the wagging tongues of neighbourhood gossips. Though wary at first, the grieving Kusum comes to return his affection, asking only that he assist her in achieving what her dead father could not- by putting an end to the violence she has endured at the hands of a drunken husband.
Zairos cannot get advice from his father Aspi, whose clownishness masks thinly-veiled nihilism. Nor can he confide in his beloved grandfather Shapur, whose massive hands planted the chickoo trees that he adores as much as his own sons. Shapur built the family empire from a desperate start as an orphaned refugee, and any act that might threaten the delicate legacy spawned by his sacrifices would only provoke rage in the old man, who increasingly dwells in memories. So Zairos whiles away his time at Anna’s, the local haunt for the male leisure class, dreaming of a future with Kusum. There, with the support of some equally underemployed sidekicks, Zairos hatches a scheme to scare Kusum’s husband into releasing her, while keeping his own moral integrity intact. But alas, Zairos’s scheme will not unfold as planned, and along the way he will unwittingly expose family secrets that may well be better left buried…
With brilliant gusto, Irani has built his Dahanu Road upon the pathways forged by authors of tragicomic romance spanning centuries and continents, from the Persian classic Layla and Majnun, to Romeo and Juliet or Wuthering Heights. Dahanu Road is a suspense-filled family saga, a sprawling romantic epic in which the delineations between the oppressor and the oppressed, or between love and hate, are demonstrated to be maddeningly deceptive.

From the Hardcover edition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gypsysmom - LibraryThing

India fascinates me and the more books I read that are set in India the more I am fascinated. In Dahanu Road Anosh Irani has captured the story of an entire group of people that I never knew existed ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - icolford - LibraryThing

Myth and history interweave artfully in this tale of revenge and ill-begotten love. In the town of Dahanu outside Bombay, Zairos, son of Aspi Irani, a landowner, finds Ganpat, a member of the local ... Read full review

Selected pages


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 21
Section 22
Section 23
Section 24
Section 25
Section 26
Section 27
Section 28

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18
Section 19
Section 20
Section 29
Section 30
Section 31
Section 32
Section 33
Section 34
Section 35
Section 36
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Section 38

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About the author (2010)

Anosh Irani was born and raised in Bombay, India. He moved to Vancouver in 1998, and received his Masters in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in 2004.
First published in 2004, The Cripple and His Talismans was Irani’s first novel, earning him critical acclaim and a spot on Quill & Quire’s “writers to watch” list. The novel has also been published in the United States, Germany and China.
Irani’s second novel, The Song of Kahunsha, was published in 2006. It is a tale of children in Bombay struggling for survival amidst the violence of the 1993 racial riots. It became a Canadian and Italian bestseller, and was a 2007 CBC Radio “Canada Reads” selection. Dahanu Road, Irani’s most recent novel, is an epic love story about three generations of the Irani clan: Zoroastrians who fled from persecution in Iran to Bombay.
Irani is also an award-winning playwright. His first full-length play, The Matka King, premiered in Vancouver in 2003. His 2006 play Bombay Black won four Dora Mavor Moore Awards including Outstanding New Play. He was a 2007 Governor General’s Award nominee for Drama for The Bombay Plays. His most recent play is My Granny the Goldfish.
Irani divides his time between Bombay and Vancouver.
Of the setting of this novel, Irani writes: “Dahanu is the place of my childhood, and I truly love the town and its people. But plot always comes from the internal desires of the characters. What happens in a story is the result of what characters want, and these characters are fictitious. So reading the novel, people might ask, ‘Did this really happen?’ That question is natural. But one must remember, fiction is about possibility. Through story and history, a novelist digs for truth. I took the history of the Zoroastrians and the Warlis, and this novel is what I found.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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