BEACH BOY by Ardashir Vakil

BEACH BOY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

London-based Vakil manages extraordinary things in this debut as he conveys the sights, smells, and especially the tastes of his native Bombay through the voracious appetites of a movie-mad, sex-crazed, ever-hungry young boy. Setting forth from his family’s glass house by the sea, eight-year-old Cyrus Readymoney enjoys more freedom of movement than most boys his age. He shows up at his neighbors’ houses during mealtimes (sometimes visiting them all in a single day); he hops a bus into Bombay to see whatever movie he wants; he even invites himself along on other families— vacations. His high-spiritedness gets him into trouble with his teachers, of course, and the fact that nothing is denied him means he’s older than his years in some ways. Then, too, he’s something of an insomniac. Still, to some these qualities are endearing—especially to the Maharani living with her adopted daughters in the crumbling mansion next door. She takes him under her wing at a time when Cyrus is already lusting for her daughter Meera, giving him the close contact he had only dreamed about previously. And he’s traveling with other neighbors to their home in southern India for six weeks, so life looks good. But then his father, a busy man not above having an occasional affair, goes off the deep end when he catches Cyrus’s mother with another man; she leaves, taking the children with her. Comfortably settled in a city apartment, Cyrus still tries to keep his ties to his old neighborhood, even going as planned on the vacation. When his father has a heart attack, though, he must move back home, only to find his parents gone to America, seeking treatment, and his former comfort vanished forever. A sensual feast and a glutton’s delight, this is also a moving, beautifully nuanced tale of a precocious boy and a childhood’s premature end. (Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selection)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-85299-3
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998