Dancing to the Flute
Perhaps best described as a modernconceived Indian folk tale, Dancing to the Flute is Manisha Jolie Amin’s debut novel. The book focuses on Kalu, an orphan street boy, who one day is injured and cannot work, all but losing any future prospects of getting off the streets. That is, until he meets a healer who ignores their class differences and promises to help him, for a fee – Kalu must train as a flute player with the healer’s musician brother. Though Kalu eventually becomes internationally famous, he still has unresolved issues from his hometown and childhood. Although Amin has never
taken up residence in India, she has travelled there extensively. The influence of her childhood, spent listening to the traditional Indian stories of her mother and flute melodies of her father are also shown in Dancing to the Flute. The novel evokes a mystical, superstitious kind of divine providence, similar to that found in Paulo Coelho’s novels. Though a colourful and at times surprising read, the storyline does get lost among long, reflective descriptions that do little to progress plot. While some of these details are useful in evoking a certain ‘Indian-ness’, the novel would be stronger if it were more concise and less reliant on heavy-handed explanations of characters and events.
This review was first published in the UTS U: Magazine October 2012.