The John Batchelor Show

Saturday 20 October 2012

Air Date: 
October 20, 2012

(Photo: New Delhi, Nov 4 : Five years after Mumbai clamped down on bar dancers, the women still await rehabilitation and many have been forced to join the circus or become sex workers, says San Francisco-based writer Sonia Faleiro whose latest book casts a candid look at their lives now. "Unlike the protagonist of my book, Leela, who stayed on to fight the ban, most Mumbai bar dancers have either left for home or been informally absorbed into professions like circuses and 'tamasha' (traditional Indian street performing arts) that they had left behind," Faleiro told IANS in an interview.) 

905P:  Gina Apostol, author, Gun Dealer’s Daughter, A Novel. 1 of 2.

“Philippine National Book Award–winner Apostol chronicles a country in political turmoil in her vertiginous American debut. ...Poetically told...Apostol offers an intriguing and significant view of Marcos-era Philippines in this complex and feverish novel.” (Publishers Weekly )  

920P:  Gina Apostol 2 of 2. 

Soon after she leaves home for university in Manila, Soledad Soliman (Sol) transforms herself from bookish rich girl to communist rebel. But is her allegiance to the principles of Mao or to Jed, the comrade she’s in love with? Can she really be a part of the movement or is she just a “useful fool,” a spoiled brat playing at revolution?   Far from the Philippines, in a mansion overlooking the Hudson River, Sol confesses her youthful indiscretions, unable to get past the fatal act of communist fervor that locked her memory in an endless loop. Rich with wordplay and unforgettable imagery, Gun Dealers’ Daughter combines the momentum of an amnesiac thriller with the intellectual delights of a Borgesian puzzle. In her American debut, award-winning author Gina Apostol delivers a riveting novel that illuminates the conflicted and little-known history of the Philippines, a country deeply entwined with our own.

935P: Sonia Faleiro, Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars. 1 OF 2

"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 Reviews (starred)

950P: Sonia Faleiro 2 of 2

"In India, despite the staggering number of fabulous stories that are waiting to be told, we have been mostly deprived of good literary nonfiction - a genre which Edward Hume describes as one that combines 'the immediacy of journalism and the power of true accounts with the texture, read, drama, emotional punch, point of view and broad themes of a novel.' This is what Faleiro has achieved in her riveting story-telling, as she draws out the relationship between nineteen-year-old Leela and the dance bar, Night Lovers, with its golden pillars and Medusa heads."—Times of India

1005P:  Buddy Guy, When I left Home: My Story, 1 of 2

Publishers Weekly, 4/16/12

“As mesmerizing a storyteller as a guitarist, Guy, writing with Ritz, regales readers with tales of growing up picking cotton in rural Alabama, of seeing his first guitar and standing transfixed in front of Lightning Slim for several hours just memorizing the movements of Slim’s hands, of his father’s friend buying his first guitar for him, and of his endless efforts to play the blues as he had heard and seen Slim and others play…Guy’s memoir is a joyous celebration of the blues, one of our greatest musical treasures.”

1020P:  Buddy Guy 2 of 2

BluesPowR blog, 5/10/12

When I Left Home covers an amazing amount of ground in its close to 300 pages…Relayed in a simple, conversational manner, the book does a terrific job of documenting the life of one of blues music's biggest living stars, making it a must-read for any fan of the blues…When I Left Home isn't, as the title indicates, just Buddy's story; in many respects, this is a story of the blues.”

1035P: Buddy Guy 3 of 4

DownBeat, July 2012

“Buddy Guy is a stellar storyteller…The guitarist relates the fascinating story of his life in the well-organized, speedily read When I Left Home…Guy weighs in on the blues experience, good and bad, maintaining a warmth of spirit…Guy gives his two cents on blues Chicago without lapsing into romanticizing…Buddy Guy’s smile on the cover of When I Left Home is every but a lasting image for modern blues.”

1050P: Buddy Guy, 4 of 4

Buddy Guy was born in 1936 in Lettsworth, Louisiana. He is considered among the best blues guitarists alive today. He lives in Chicago. David Ritz is the coauthor of many bestselling autobiographies of musicians, including Ray Charles, Etta James, Scott Weiland, Grandmaster Flash, and more. He is the author of Divided Soul, the definitive biography of Marvin Gaye, and lives in Los Angeles.


1105P:  Alan Furst, Mission to Paris, A Novel. 1 of 2.

“Alan Furst’s writing reminds me of a swim in perfect water on a perfect day, fluid and exquisite. One wants the feeling to go on forever, the book to never end … Like Graham Greene, Furst creates believable characters caught up, with varying degrees of willingness, in the parade of political life. And because they care, the reader does, too … Furst is one of the finest spy novelists working today, and, from boudoir to the beach, Mission to Paris is perfect summer reading.”

—Publisher’s Weekly

1120P: Alan Furst 2 of 2

“This is the romantic Paris to make a tourist weep … The brilliant historical flourishes seem to create – or recreate – a world … In Furst’s densely populated books, hundred of minor characters – clerks, chauffeurs, soldiers, whores – all whirl around his heroes in perfect focus for a page or two, then dot by dot, face by face, they vanish, leaving a heartbreaking sense of the vast Homeric epic that was World War II and the smallness of almost every life that was caught up in it.”

The New York Times Book Review

1135P:  Ismet Prcic, Shards, A Novel, 1 of 2

"Experimental and brutal and heart-wrenching . . . You just give in to it, as you do when reading someone like Faulkner. . . . What makes Shards so compelling is, first of all, the language . . . which has an almost ferocious beauty. Secondly, and as important, is the organization of the book, which gives it a sense of urgency. . . . Ismet's confusion is so vivid that it becomes ours, making us participants in this story. . . . To have had such a life when you are so young is hard to convey without becoming sentimental or pathetic, yet Prcic has done it brilliantly."

The Arts Fuse

1150P:  Ismet Prcic, Shards, A Novel, 2 of 2

"Brilliant . . . With verbal glee, Prcic serves up a darkly comic vision of the terrors and misunderstandings of immigration. Tight, glorious little tales-within-tales abound, rattled off with a quick, artless naturalism. . . . The writing is packed with one original metaphor after another, language that's almost drunk with colorful, startling images. . . . Brimming with scraps of memory, regrets, and rationalizations, Shards leaves an indelible scar on the reader's imagination. Prcic has pieced together a young man's story from the torn and exploded remains of his former life, and the sheer power of his language leaves the reader shaken."

—Shelf Awareness

Aquino's rise began in 1983 when her husband, opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., was assassinated on the tarmac of Manila's international airport as he returned from exile in the United States to challenge Marcos, his longtime adversary. The killing enraged many Filipinos and unleashed a broad-based opposition movement that thrust Aquino into the role of national leader.

1205P:   Gina Apostol, author, Gun Dealer’s Daughter, A Novel. 1 of 2

Gina Apostol won the Philippine National Book Award for her first two novels, Bibliolepsy and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. She teaches at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

1220P:   Gina Apostol, author, Gun Dealer’s Daughter, A Novel. 2 of 2 

1235P:  Sonia Faleiro, Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars.  1 OF 2

"As a first person narrator who makes her presence felt only occasionally, Faleiro presents what is revealed to her without judgement or heavy-handed emotion. She has collected a wonderful set of characters to act as our guides in Beautiful Thing. Aside from Leela, there’s Aunty, who runs a brothel in Aksa Beach; Masti, a rare example of a hijra accepted by her family; Shetty, the owner of a dance bar; Priya, Leela’s friend; Apsara, Leela’s mother; and a Dubai-based fixer who claims to be Abu Salem’s right hand man. Well-paced, sharply-observed and full of respectful curiosity, Beautiful Thing is difficult to put down."—Mumbai Boss

A 25-year-old girl who was recently arrested by the railway police for snatching gold chains on suburban trains has told cops that she committed the crime to keep her 20 boyfriends content, so that they wouldn’t dump her.

1250P:  Sonia Faleiro, Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars.  2 of 2

"In a fast-paced, conversational, high-octance circumstantial style, the contradictions of Leela's hedonistic, heartbreaking life as a badass Lolita crossed with a naively knowing Sweet Charity are thoroughly and empathetically explored. Her rich character is sparked to vivid life in a highly colored work of brilliant literary reportage."—The Times (UK)