“[This] brilliantly conceived and jauntily delivered first novel . . . harks back to Boccaccio and Chaucer. . . . There is something marvelously primitive about the function of story here, the way it staves of individual distress and panic and creates a communal skein of life and dream that connects the tellers, the listeners and, by extension, any of us who happen to be reading about what they’re telling each other. There is also something dramatically modern about Dasgupta’s world.” Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle
978-0-8021-7009-5 • $13.00 • Paperback • May 2005
“Intriguing . . . A highly confident literary debut.” The Bookseller (UK)
Someone spoke: I have a story to tell.
Simple, just like that. 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.
In what The Wall Street Journal Asia has hailed as a “global citizen narrative,” Rana Dasgupta has crafted a 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, invoking timeless tales such as Rapunzel, Bluebeard, and the Prodigal Son, while bringing to life a cast of ex-traordinary individualssome lost, some confused, some happyin 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 from the great citiesNew York, Istanbul, Delhi, Lagos, Paris, Buenos Airesthat grow into an epic cycle about the hopes and dreams and disappointments that connect people everywhere.
Rana Dasgupta on the idea of “a global citizen” narrative:
When I began Tokyo Cancelled, I conceived of it as a set of myths of contemporary cities. The attractive thing about the language of myth for me is that it operates according to certain archetypes that can be very egalitarian. A mythical lover has the same significance as a lover whether she or he is a peasant or a merchant or a monarch. Using mythic forms therefore allowed me to gather a very wide range of characters into the narrative without resorting to sensationalism. These characters include not only industrialists and film stars but many of the shadowy characters that lie at the edges of our news stories and political debates, such as illegal immigrants and migrant laborers. Tokyo Cancelled is concerned with the development of a language of human character that is robust enough to incorporate all these figures and give equal dignity to each.