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Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars
 
 

Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars [Kindle Edition]

Sonia Faleiro
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Review

[An] intimate and valuable book of literary reportage . . . [Faleiro's] language, like dots of coloured light pinging from a smudgy mirrored ball, casts an intoxicating if unsettling glow. . . . Will break your heart several times over Dwight Garner, The New York Times

A gripping and intimate portrayal of the lives of the women who work in [India's sex industry]. She manages to evoke shock, rage, and laughter. . . . The book is a moving testament to girls who deal with the brutal hand fate has dealt them by capitalizing on the gifts they do have: beauty, an inner strength, and each other Literary Review

Brilliant . . . It's most outstanding quality to my eye is the window it offers on the widespread sexual repression that exists in India today, and the murky middle-class morality that rules it The Guardian

A riveting exposé . . . For a book that's so short, Faleiro manages to pack a lot in: pimps, gangsters, transvestites, cops and madams. But its most outstanding quality to my eye is the window it offers on the widespread sexual repression that exists in India today, and the murky middle-class morality that rules it . . . The real triumph of Beautiful Thing is how Faleiro dismantles the grand tradition of marriage in India, exposing it for what it is a form of slavery for a large percentage of women who are bound to their husbands for food and the roofs over their heads, but rarely ever for love Observer

Excellent . . . A meticulous, moving account of the battle for social mobility and personal freedom in Bombay . . . A rich portrait of the desires, vulnerabilities, and sheer resilience of Leela and her colleagues The Sunday Telegraph

A tour de force of heartrending reportage . . . which blends rigorous journalistic research with the narrative skills of a novelist. . . . With tight focus and pacing, [Faleiro] is adept at conjuring the brutal backstory of these lives The Independent

The rich, gaudy tapestry that Faleiro weaves is a reminder that some of the best recent books about India, such as Suketu Mehta s Maximum City, also about Mumbai, give us the big picture by focusing on the microcosm The Financial Times

A glimpse into a frightening subculture unlike anything that a typical American has ever experienced. . . . With crackling prose, Faleiro provides an intense, disconcertingly entertaining [look] into the shadowy corners of a foreign culture; the fast-paced narrative, while undeniably journalistic, reads like a thriller. But what ultimately gives the book its resonance is Faleiro's empathy and love for her fully developed subjects. In lesser hands, these young people could have come off as clichés, but the author makes sure we care for them and root for them to survive a life that most will never understand. Gritty, gripping, and often heartbreaking an impressive piece of narrative nonfiction Kirkus Review (starred)

Does what every good piece of reportage ought to took me to a place I couldn't have gone by myself Hari Kunzru, Guardian (Best Books of 2011)

A small masterpiece of observation . . . Sassy, sensitive, and deeply moving . . . Beautiful Thing opens up a hidden world with startling insight and intimacy, and strangely is both a tragic monument to the abused bar girls of Bombay and a celebration of their amazing resilience and spirit William Dalrymple, author of Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

A rare glimpse into dismissed lives. Faleiro brings a novelist s eye for detail and a depth of empathy to her work. A magnificent book of reportage that is also endowed with all the terror and beauty of art --Kiran Desai, author of The Inheritance of Loss

'Faleiro writes her way into the bloodstream with this mesmeric book, fashioned with heart and enviable acuity. A shocking, funny and memorable ride Nikita Lalwani, author of Gifted

Unforgettable . . . Faleiro has transformed a door, studded with rusted nails of truth, heavy with the strange and disturbing secrets it hides, into a jewelled curtain, and she has drawn that curtain aside with an artist s hand --Gregory David Roberts, author of Shantaram

Review

'Beautiful Thing is a brilliant debut that catapults Sonia Faleiro straight to the top of the premier division of Indian writers of non-fiction ... Beautiful Thing opens up a hidden world with startling insight and intimacy, and strangely is both a tragic monument to the abused bar girls of Bombay and a celebration of their amazing resilience and spirit.' - William Dalrymple, author of Nine Lives 'Faleiro writes her way into the bloodstream with this mesmeric book, fashioned with heart and enviable acuity. A shocking, funny and memorable ride.' - Nikita Lalwani, author of Gifted 'A rare glimpse into dismissed lives. Sonia Faleiro brings a novelist's eye for detail and a depth of empathy to her work. This is a magnificent book of reportage that is also endowed with all the terror and beauty of art.' - Kiran Desai, Booker prize-winning author of The Inheritance of Loss '... With her we hear, we see, we feel and finally know the world behind that door: a world that was unimaginable before Faleiro drew us there, but is unforgettable when the last page is turned, the last beaded curtain drawn to a close.' - Gregory David Roberts, author of Shantaram

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 376 KB
  • Print Length: 241 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B008ET3XCG
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (4 Aug 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055CJ3SI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #67,920 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Sonia Faleiro is an award-winning reporter and writer. She is the author of a book of fiction, The Girl (Penguin Viking, 2006) and a contributor to numerous anthologies including AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India (Random House, 2008).
Beautiful Thing (Penguin/Hamish Hamilton, 2010) is her first work of non-fiction and is based on five years of research in the secretive world of Bombay's dance bars. It was a Time Out Subcontinental Book of the Year and CNN's Mumbai Book of the Year. Critics described Beautiful Thing as 'a brilliant, unforgettable book by a writer who is one of the best of her generation'.
Beautiful Thing is being translated into several languages. It will be published in Australia in May 2011 (Black Inc.), in the UK in August 2011 (Canongate) and in the US in March 2012 (Grove).
Sonia was born in Goa, studied in Edinburgh, worked in Bombay, and now lives in San Francisco.
For more information, please visit www.soniafaleiro.com.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wow 5 May 2012
Format:Paperback
great book but the Wow is more at the author. its amazing how she's got into the very heart of things. Cant wait for her next book! Also, what happens to Leela?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her name was Leela, she was a show girl 23 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback
Beautiful Thing - Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars by Sonia Faleiro is a remarkable documentary account of a few years in the life of Leela, a dancer in a Mumbai dance bar, her friends, her clients and her co-workers. It's a life set firmly on the wrong side of the tracks which reveals the power of friendship, honour and companionship which often belies the sordid surroundings. Even more remarkable is the friendship between Leela and the writer which offers Faleiro an opportunity to go where few writers would be able to and at considerable risk to her own health and personal safety.

They say you should never judge a book by its cover but when that cover carries endorsements by William Dalrymple, Kiran Desai and Gregory David Roberts, Indiaphiles will realise that this is something very special and readers should sit up and take notice. I read a lot of books about Indian and have clocked up a lot of non-fiction about the country recently and whilst it's almost always interesting, some of the books can be heavy going and can take some determination to get through. The only hard thing about 'Beautiful Thing' will be putting it down once you've started. For a difficult story in a bleak setting which deals with exploitation of many kinds it's a remarkably easy read that flows like a novel rather than non-fiction.

We learn that life in the dance bars gives the most beautiful and popular girls a wealth that's beyond the dreams of the prostitutes out in the slums and a relative respectability that enables them to be courted by clients who spoil them rotten in return (initially) for little more than a bit of flirting and hand holding.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant read 17 Sep 2013
By mark
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
would recommend it as an insight to the language and life of dance bars - funny and thought provoking !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not just about Bombay's Bar Dancers 29 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Though a work of non-fiction, Falerio's writing instantly sucks you in and gets you heavily invested in the fate of the protagonist and has you turning the pages through to the end. It could be a paper-back - for it is gritty and titillating as any thriller, yet it is also a report on the state of affairs of young women without means and without protection in urban India.

While targeted at a privileged readership, this book is not a moral treatise or a pedantic talking-to to its reader, and it is most certainly not a cheap invitation to gawk at the lives of others. I think it aims to be a space to put forward the story of these brave, beautiful young women-- because that is what they seek- a listener. And once you have listened to these girls, the question arises, out of your sheer admiration and empathy for their savage spirit of survival - is there anything you can possibly do for them but to change the way you look at them, the way you think about them and what you hope for them?

Falerio's dancing girls are inarticulate, unrefined and uneducated, yet I saw them as TRULY feminist. While they own their femininity, flaunt their sexuality and sell it with impunity, Falerio is able to contextualize this as the only kind of feminism available to these women- the kind that refuses to be patronized, the kind that navigates a grotesquely patriarchal and apathetic society without fear and with hope for something better. They are not simply feminist because patriarchy isn't working for them --.they seek to author their lives themselves. Yet, it is also the kind of feminism yearns to be loved, to be saved, to be safe and to be materially successful.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A DIFFERENT WORLD? 12 Mar 2013
By A Gill
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A fascinating insight in to a world that is far removed for most of our experiences. The only "fault" is that it is real lfe and so there is no neat ending.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating subject but.... 21 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Although this is a non fiction book, the storyline was good but I didn't feel drawn to it until the last third because I felt excluded by my lack of Indian knowledge.
This book had so much local dialect and Indian phrases, which weren't always translated that I felt it challenging to anyone without such knowledge already. Also, not having visited India, more explanation of the area and other things mentioned would have been useful and would have meant less guesswork.
The subject was fascinating and startling and will cause hours of interesting and heated discussion in our book group but if more appreciation could have been given to the fact that many readers wouldn't understand the Indian dialect and slang used throughout, it would get a better review.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think... 22 Aug 2011
By april
Format:Paperback
This book works on two levels; the direct, narrative one, with the bar dancer Leela at its center, and the deeper, more thought-provoking and analytic one, where I, the reader, wonder about all the abused women and children in the world, in my own world, and wonder what kind of society I live in, where the continued inhumane treatment of vulnerable and weak people is not only tolerated but actively encouraged, for monetary profit as well as for power and influence.
The author's straight and honest approach to her subject, her deep empathy, and her direct and humorous language draws me into Leela's world. Even after finishing the book, I continued to think of Leela, and all the thousands of young people, both girls and boys, like her; maybe even in my very own neighborhood. It is an eye-opening book, deeply researched and felt, and it left me thinking deeply, of trafficking, of incest and of the abuse of those most in need of protection, the young and vulnerable.
I recommend it highly!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly Vivid Work that Can Put Many Novels to Shame
"Beautiful Thing" reaches us as an acclaimed book of journalism, illuminating one of the darker corners---the world of Bombay's bar dancing girls--of that immense, dynamic Indian... Read more
Published on 20 Mar 2012 by Stephanie De Pue
1.0 out of 5 stars Bored
I bought this book based on the reviews and am sorry I did. I have never been a fan of writing that feels like the author is singing a song. Read more
Published on 28 Feb 2012 by Anju
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
One of the most powerful and thought-provoking books I've read, by an extremely talented writer and intrepid reporter who has brought together years of research into a literary... Read more
Published on 22 Oct 2011 by Elisabeth Dodds
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars
This book was a bit disappointing but it wasn't awful. I expected to be more shocked and surprised by the "secret world" but in. Read more
Published on 25 Sep 2011 by bethanchloe
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars
I was really disappointed by this book for which I had high hopes especially in light of the positive reviews I had read. Read more
Published on 10 Sep 2011 by Abs
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This is superb book, written in a most lucid and interesting style. I wished this book were 3 times it's size so as not to end so soon, it is so good. Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2011 by Satish
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