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on 19 August 2007
This is the story of Sampath "Good Fortune" Chawla, an idle young man who spends many hours dreaming in the tea stalls and singing to himself in public gardens of Shahkot. At the post office he spends time reading the mail instead of working and soon loses his job. Then he decides to take permanent residence in the fork of a guava tree in a marvellous orchard upon a hillside and become a hermit. Unfortunately his family quickly realise that Sampath could make their fortune and so a stream of worshipers start visiting Sampath's tree, asking for blessing while his parents, in a nearby tea stall, sell flower garlands, fruit, incense and souvenirs.
In a witty and sharp prose Ms Desai mocks pious devotion, official incompetence, domestic tiffs, young love, marriage customs, sacred monkeys and the novel is a delightfully funny satire of the customs of India.
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on 13 October 2006
Bought this because I'm too stingy to buy her Booker winner till it comes out as a paperback. She's a very talented writer - natural comic writing, very gentle humour. I fear this book paints a picture of a lagely imaginary India, or an India long since passed, but I greatly enjoyed the characterisations and the situations. The first 50 pages in particular are first class. Thereafter her focus slips a little and we get into first-novel-it is. I suspect The Inheritance of Loss is a fine book - she's taken 7 years to write it, and all the signs of an exceptionally talented natural writer are there to be seen in Hullaballoo
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on 23 November 2000
One of the nicest books I have read in years. Beautifully written and utterly compelling. I was genuinely upset when I reached the end - I just wanted to have more; to spend more time with the delightful characters that Kiran Desai has created. I'm buying it as presents for loads of folk this Christmas - it's a real treat.
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Happiness Comes in Doing Your Own Thing, April 15, 2008
By Donald Mitchell "a Practical Optimist" (Boston) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard is the old sixties message of "do your own thing" brought to bear in rural India. That nation is still bound by caste and class consciousness that places strong limits on what each person may and may not do. Naturally, the truly talented may transcend those limits, but what about the rest of us?

To explore that point, Kiran Desai provides us with the least likely hero you've ever met, Sampath Chawla, who combines the simpleness of Don Quixote with the desire for ease of Tom Sawyer. He and a number of the other characters are especially interesting for being originally drawn, rather than representing traditional archetypes. In doing this, Ms. Desai is helped by her references to the lack of mental balance in Sampath's mother and her children.

Some may incorrectly describe this as a humor book, but rather it's a biting satire of the nuttiness of the way things usually work. For example, in a job we are supposed to please the boss and rely on the boss's good will to provide for us. But if pleasing the boss means that we make ourselves miserable, what use is this? As another example, spew out a nonsensical aphorism and most people will find a connection to their own life . . . even if none is intended. We defer to those who seem to have superior power or knowledge . . . even when it's only a reputation for such rather than the reality.

Ms. Desai's point is that the good life is the rational life of meaningful self-interest, unrestrained by tradition, convention, and habit. She makes the exposition of that point more fun than any other writer I can remember.
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on 19 August 1999
I aven't read a book I have liked so much since Annie Proulx's Shipping News. This is a very funny story about a family in India, whose son goes slightly off the rails. The results are hilarious. This story makes for a wonderful debut by the dughter of the famous autor, Anita Desai.
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This is a marvellous piece of prose writing, and an enthralling story in which the author traps not only her protagonist but herself up a tree, and then manages to write her way out of the predicament. Actually, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard has many protagonists, each with a hypnotically convincing point of view, and the book shifts around through these subjective worlds with supreme skill and verve. An outrageous achievement.
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on 29 March 2010
I read this book all in one go one weekend, I just didn't want to put it down. It tells the wonderfully humorous tale of Sampath Chawla and his rather peculiar life. Filled with both hope and hopelessness, despair at the way the world is going and joy in living life as it comes, this is a wonderful book. The characters are ruddy with life, and you will just want the book to go on so you can find out more about them!
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on 18 July 2007
This is a very funny book indeed. I agree with "James M" review below and also found the first half of the book to be far superior to the second half. My attention was definitely slipping in the second half, but it is still a good read. Probably a perfect book for taking your mind off rubbish, or slipping in your bag to take on holiday.

Desai writes with incredible humour. And I thought her descriptions of characters were very imaginative. You really do get a sense of another world.

I enjoyed this book mainly for all its zaniness and colourful description. There are also some carefully hidden messages within the text underneath the humour. For my taste there could have been a little more of that. And I felt the book to be a bit flimsy at times because of that. But this is just down to personal taste.

It is as said, a light and easy read. And it really is extremely funny in places.
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on 28 January 2009
This book was a joy to read. I lived in India for a while in the late 60s and the atmosphere came flooding back. The characters are unique and quirky but believable,the surroundings described in such a way you can almost smell them.
The plan to catch the monkeys reminded me of a Tom Sharpe novel,where things go wrong in amusing ways,culminating in a shambles.
The secondary plot of the 'spy' was intriguing with an unexpected end.
The whirlwind end seemed a little abrupt and fantastical...almost as though the author didnt quite know how to finish....or had she tired of the whole thing?
An easy read if you are looking for something lighthearted.
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on 29 April 2014
Not my usual type of book but very entertaining and a cultural insight into the quirky lives of an Indian family and the quite amusing events that take place in the story. My first Kiran Desai book and will definitely read another.
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