The Parcel

The Parcel

Book - 2016
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The first novel in six years from a beloved and bestselling Canadian author about a transgender sex worker in the red-light district of Bombay who is given an unexpected task. A gripping literary page-turner - difficult and moving, surprising and tender.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, ©2016.
ISBN: 9780345816740
Characteristics: viii, 284 pages ;,22 cm.


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The Parcel by local author Anosh Irani was a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and for the Governor General’s Literary Award. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was one of those books I thought I was going to be trudging through because of the serious subject matter (the main character is a transgender sex worker in Bombay); however, it was really well written and quite the page-turner. This book has been described as “difficult and moving, surprising and tender.” I finished it over a weekend! (Submitted by Surinder).

Oct 04, 2017

The Parcel is a novel about a woman, named Madhu, working in the red-light district of Bombay, India. After being out of the business of human trafficking for years, she is suddenly given another assignment. She must take care of a trafficked 10 year old girl and prepare her for her fate in the district. This novel is beautifully written, however it can be extremely hard to read for some. This heart-breaking novel is not for the faint of heart, and definitely not for children. The Parcel made me more aware of the reality women face around the world and made me angry at what they must face.
- @BookLover of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

SCL_Angela May 30, 2017

Heartbreaking and beautifully written. Looking forward to hearing Anosh Irani speak at Fall Feast of Words (2017).

patcumming Mar 02, 2017

Beautifully written but oh so sad. This story will stay with me for a long time. It's hard to imagine a more difficult life than the ones depicted in this novel - child prostitutes and transgendered individuals living in the red light district of Mumbai. It does have a hopeful (relatively) ending.

Jan 21, 2017

A very dark read - if transgender (& all that goes with it), child prostitution or child abandonment are triggers for you, I suggest that you steer clear. Heartbreaking that parents could just discard their children just because they don't fit into society's version of "normal". I'm glad I read it as it was an eye-opener. Found it dragged a bit at the end and had to force myself to finish it.

Jan 19, 2017

Absolutely worth reading.. I was tempted to stop part-way through when I was fearful for the Parcel. Very glad that I continued, because what unfolds is a brilliant insight into a life of harsh realities - reading this book provides insights into India that are both warm and harsh. An easy read once you get into the story.

Dec 17, 2016

To quote the author: “Sometimes stories will disturb you and it’s OK. That’s what literature is for. It’s there to cause some sort of dent in your thinking, some sort of shift in your consciousness. It’s not there to make you comfortable, it’s there to move you.” That about sums up my takeaway from "The Parcel".

This beautifully written book grabs you by the emotional gut and just doesn't let you go. So sadly real but, in certain instances, surprisingly funny. Anosh Irani's use of language to create a narrative is nothing short of genius.

Let's be clear: this is not a feel good book. There are very few characters who are redemptive in any way. You may find yourself confused about how you should be feeling. You will, in no uncertain terms, be conflicted about whether or not a character is "good" or "bad". You will learn things that you wish do not exist. It will anger you that this book, though a purely fictional account, tells the tale of what goes on in our world today. Unlike what was said by a previous reviewer, this book is not porn. In fact, it is the complete opposite of porn. Porn is meant to tittilate. This book unnerves you with tales inspired by Asia's second largest red light district. Irani juxtaposes true despair with real acts of humanity.

This book is not for the faint of heart. It will linger with you long after you read the last line.

Nov 06, 2016

Compassionate and compelling. Madhu - third gender, neither man nor woman - lives with other hijras in a seedy Mumbai red light district under pressure from real estate development, where misery is ordinary and hope is dangerous. Once a high-earning sex worker, now a beggar, Madhu is a nuanced, absolutely fascinating character. Humour leavens the bleak reality of poverty, prostitution and human trafficking.

Oct 26, 2016

Madhu is born in Bombay to a poor but not impoverished family. From the start Madhu's father is embarrassed by Madhu's effeminate bahaviour. Madhu identifies with the female sex. Rejected by his peers and his family, Madhu is relieved to leave his family to become a " hijra" - a person of the ' the third sex" - neither man nor woman.

Madhu, now aged 40, has spent most of her life as a transgendered sex worker in the red light district of Bombay. She has a sense of of belonging as part of this group. As part of her work ,Madhu is summoned is to prepare" the parcel " a code word for a ten year old girl who has been betrayed and trafficked into the sex trade. Madhu works with the girl to force her to accept the harsh reality that is in store for her. In the midst of this , Madhu's past comes back to haunt her, and gradually Madhu's world unravels.

A dark, gritty, very graphic and heart- breaking novel, not for the faint of heart. I don't think it will have a broad appeal, but it opened my eyes to a reality in both Mumbai and here in Canada and elsewhere.

Oct 03, 2016

I feel really bad dropping this book without finishing it, but it has taken me 8 long days to get 60 pages into the story. It is beautifully written and deals with the very bleak reality of hijra (eunuch) prostitutes in the slums of India AND it's by a Canadian author, so I really, really wanted to love this. But alas, something is not there. I'm put off by the author's tendency to pepper the narrative with Indian words and phrases without providing any hints or context. You've got to keep stopping to look up the words and phrases, which throws a wrench into the enjoyment of the novel. I might try this again in the feels like another A Fine Balance situation: hate it now, love it later? Maybe. I'm disappointed I couldn't get into it.

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