Wednesday, 26 November 2014
The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki
review by Maryom
In a cheap hotel in Biarritz, an old man sets about writing a letter - one that won't be discovered till after he is dead; one that he feels will explain and excuse him to his friends and family. For even Maqil himself, compulsive gambler, inveterate liar, and charming con-man, is beginning to see that his life-style needs defending. Born in Lahore in the Punjab, he's travelled all over the world, lived in the US, England, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, adopting a new name and identity for each, blending in for a while then moving on again. Along the way, he's made and lost fortunes, married three times, fathered two children and is now a grandfather, but now is old, alone and penniless, facing the ultimate gamble - death and whatever lies beyond.
I discovered Roopa Farooki's writing earlier this year with The Good Children, a 600 page family-epic style novel, and have been searching my local library for more by her. The Flying Man is almost as sweeping a novel, charting the life and 'careers' of Maqil Karam, as for most of his eighty years, trading on his good looks and charm, he flits and flies round the globe, moving on when the going gets too hard or when he might be called to account, financially or emotionally.
Maqil is an entertaining, loveable rogue, who sees himself as moving on from one adventure to another, but beware anyone who gets too close, for at heart he's a commitment-phobe. Maqil believes, of course, that HE is the one who's had all the fun but while he's constantly on the move, escaping the responsibility of wives, children, and taxes, others are putting down roots, raising family, and forming those lasting ties that bind us together. At the end, his life, supposedly full of glamour and intrigue, doesn't feel like it really adds up to much - he's just a lonely old man in an out-of-season holiday resort, waiting for the end - his one redeeming feature being his love for his second wife Samira.
This is the sort of story I love - a fully fleshed out world to lose myself in completely, with believable characters I can relate to; a story that pulled me in, moving from humorous to touching, that through one man's fictitious life made me think about the things that I believe to be important.
Longlisted for the Orange prize and the Impac Dublin Literary Award
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Headline Review
Genre - adult fiction, literary,