Ravan and Eddie are the unlikeliest of companions. For one thing, Ravan is Hindu, while Eddie is Catholic. For another, when Ravan was a baby and fell from a balcony, that fall had a dramatic, and very literal, impact on Eddie’s family. But Ravan and Eddie both live in Central Works Department Chawl No. 17—and if you grow up in the crowded Mumbai chawls, you get to participate in your neighbors’ lives, whether you like it or not.
As we watch the two unlikely heroes of Kiran Nagarkar’s acclaimed novel rocket out of the starting blocks of their lives, leaving earth-mothers and absentee fathers, cataclysms and rock ’n’ roll in their wake, we’re compelled to sit up and take notice.
Recently selected by The Guardian as one of the ten best novels about Mumbai, Ravan and Eddie is a comic masterpiece about two larger- and truer-than-life characters and their bawdy, Rabelaisian adventures in postcolonial India. It is also a timeless journey of self-discovery, a quest for the meaning of guilt and responsibility, sin and sex, crime and punishment.
Wicked, magical, hilarious, enduring: A masterpiece from one of world literature’s great cult writers.
—Katherine Boo, author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers
The novel, recently named by the Guardian one of the ten best books about Mumbai, centers on two boys: Ravan, a Hindu, and Eddie, a Roman Catholic, who grow up on different floors of a crowded chawl housing unit, and whose lives are serendipitously linked from infancy. Nagarkar chronicles the boys’ comic and ribaldrous coming-of-age adventures in post-colonial India, and punctuates his story digressions on a selection of lively subjects, from Hindi romantic comedies to skin-lightening creams.
—”Page-Turner” blog, The New Yorker
A first-rate novel… Kiran Nagarkar is a born story-teller with an unerring eye for detail, skilled in the use of words and an artist of the erotica. He will go very far.
—Khushwant Singh, India Today
Kiran Nagarkar is totally unpredictable, and reading his books is like taking a roller-coaster ride for the imagination… [His] use of language recognizes no barriers, and flows over, through and around the reader, engulfing him in a torrent of fantastic images… [His] lively imagination is like a force of light, touching now this problem, now that. His digressions are perhaps the best part of the book.
—Usha Hemmadi, Indian Express
This is the hilarious story of Ravan, a Maratha Hindu, and Eddie, a Roman Catholic, growing up to adolescence on the different floors of the CWD chawl No 17 in Bombay… Nagarkar writes so honestly and effectively that he has brought out the smell of the fish and the urine of the chawls right into our drawing rooms.
— The Tribune (Chandigarh, India)
Ravan and Eddie compels attention. The sheer power, vigour and imaginative lusciousness of the narration possess a stunning visual quality. —The Telegraph (Calcutta)