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Anosh Irani

Anosh Irani is a playwright and novelist who was born in Bombay/Mumbai, India. He completed a B.Comm. at the University of Bombay before immigrating to Canada in 1998. At the University of British Columbia, Irani completed a B.F.A. in creative writing. His play Bombay Black, about a blind man and a dancer, had its world premiere in Toronto in January 2006. That production went on to win five Dora Mavor Moore Awards, including one for Outstanding New Play. His play My Granny the Goldfish was staged by the Artsclub Theatre Company in Vancouver from Apr 15-May 15, 2010. Irani lives in Vancouver.


The Cripple and His Talismans

Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 2003.
Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2010.
PS8617 .R36 C74 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis

The Cripple and His Talismans takes place in Bombay, India, and it begins and ends with a search for the narrator’s severed arm. Fables and clues lead the narrator to a master of the underworld named Baba Rakhu. Gradually, Baba reveals the story of the lost arm along with a new way to understand suffering in the world.

Awards and Honours

2004 Alcuin Society Award for Excellence in Book Design in Canada–Prose Fiction (Second Prize); Designer: Ingrid Paulson.


Dahanu Road

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2010.
PS8617 .R36 D35 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Zairos is a dissolute young landowner’s son living in the town of Dahanu, just outside Bombay, when his life of careless luxury is brought up short by a mysterious death: the sudden suicide of Ganpat, a tribal worker on his family’s estate. Soon Zairos has fallen in love with Ganpat’s daughter Kusum, and finds himself defying taboos with their relationship. At the same time his grandfather, Shapur, reveals to him the story of their family and of the land that Zairos stands to inherit. Violence and hatred echo through history, and Zairos learns the terrible truth his grandfather has spent a lifetime hiding.


The Parcel book cover


The Parcel

Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2016.
PS8617 .R36 P37 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The Parcel‘s astonishing heart, soul and unforgettable voice is Madhu–born a boy, but a eunuch by choice–who has spent most of her life in a close-knit clan of transgender sex workers in Kamathipura, the notorious red-light district of Bombay. Madhu identifies herself as a “hijra”–a person belonging to the third sex, neither here nor there, man nor woman. Now, at 40, she has moved away from prostitution, her trade since her teens, and is forced to beg to support the charismatic head of the hijra clan, Gurumai. One day Madhu receives a call from Padma Madam, the most feared brothel owner in the district: a “parcel” has arrived–a young girl from the provinces, betrayed and trafficked by her aunt–and Madhu must prepare it for its fate. Despite Madhu’s reluctance, she is forced to take the job by Gurumai. As Madhu’s emotions spiral out of control, her past comes back to haunt her, threatening to unravel a lifetime’s work and identity. This is a dark, devastating but ultimately redemptive novel that promises to be one of the most talked-about publications of the year.

Awards and Honours

2016 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (Finalist)
2016 Governor General Literary Award–Fiction, English language (Finalist)
2017 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (Finalist)


The Song of Kahunsha

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2006.
PS8617 .R36 S65 2006

Publisher’s Synopsis

It is January 1993 and Bombay is on the verge of being torn apart by racial violence. Ten-year-old Chamdi has rarely ventured outside his orphanage, and entertains an idyllic fantasy of what the city is like–a paradise he calls Kahunsha, “the city of no sadness.” But when he runs away to search for his long-lost father, he is thrust into the chaos of the streets, alone, posessing only the blood-stained cloth he was left in as a baby. There Chamdi meets Sumdi and Guddi, brother and sister who beg in order to provide for their sick mother, and the three become fast friends. …

Awards and Honours

2007 CBC Canada Reads (Nominated)
2007 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (Finalist)

Fiction (Short stories)

Translated from the Gibberish: Seven Stories and One Half Truth

Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2019.
on order

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Here are seven superb, subtle, surprising stories that show, through a prism of unforgettable characters, what it means to live between two worlds: India and Canada.

In these stunning stories and one “half truth” (a semi-fictional meditation on the experience of being an immigrant) we meet a swimming instructor determined to reenact John Cheever’s iconic short story “The Swimmer” in the pools of Mumbai; a famous Indian chef who breaks down on a New York talk show; a gangster’s wife who believes a penguin at the Mumbai zoo is the reincarnation of her lost child; an illegal immigrant in Vancouver who plays a fateful game of cricket; and a kindly sweets-shop owner whose hope for a new life in Canada leads to a terrible choice. The book starts and ends with a gorgeous, emotionally raw “translation” to the page of the author’s own life between worlds, blurring the line between fiction and fact. Translated from the Gibberish confirms Anosh Irani as a unique, inventive, vitally important voice in contemporary fiction.


The Bombay Plays: The Matka King and Bombay Black

Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2007.
PS8617 .R36 B64 2007

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The Matka King
In a story that pits human nature against love and chance, a landscape of betrayal and redemption comes to life in the red-light district of Bombay, India. One very powerful eunuch, Top Rani, operates an illicit lottery through his brothel, and when a gambler who is deeply in debt makes an unexpected wager, the stakes become life and death. Can a fortune-teller and a ten-year-old girl beat Top Rani at his own game?

Bombay Black
Apsara, Bombay’s most infamous dancer, lives with her iron-willed mother Padma in an apartment by the sea. Padma takes money from men so they may watch her daughter perform a mesmerizing dance. Apsara’s extraordinary beauty and erotically charged dancing cast a powerful spell over her wealthy and famous clientele. One day, a mysterious blind man named Kamal visits for a private dance. His secret link to their past threatens to change each of their lives forever. At turns lyrical and brutal, Bombay Black charts the seduction of Apsara by Kamal, and Padma’s violent enmity toward the blind man and the secrets he holds.

Awards and Honours

2007 Governor General’s Literary Award–English–Drama (Shortlist)


The Men in White

Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2018.
PS8617 .R36 M46, 2018

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Eighteen-year-old Hasan Siddiqui lives in a bustling Muslim quarter of Bombay. He escapes the drudgery of his work at a chicken slaughterhouse by fostering two fervent dreams — to become a star in cricket, a sport at which he happens to excel, and to win the affections of Haseena, a fiercely intelligent young woman two years his junior. When it comes to her, however, he is not so proficient, and Hasan’s close-to-nonexistent prospects — along with the rather unfortunate setting of their budding romance, Baba’s Chicken Centre — make advancing either cause look impossible.

Half a world away in Vancouver, Hasan’s older brother, Abdul, has been working under the table at an Indian restaurant, attempting to set down roots with the hope of one day reuniting with his brother. For Abdul the immigrant dream shows little sign of materializing, but he finds solace in his amateur cricket team. When he and the team’s captain decide to take action to end their losing streak, they talk of recruiting the talented Hasan for the rest of the season. But bringing Hasan from India to Canada will take much more than just a plane ticket, and rising tensions demonstrate that not all members of the team agree with the high cost.

Alternating between Bombay and Vancouver and exploring urgent themes surrounding the complexities of the modern immigrant experience, Islamophobia, and racial violence, The Men in White is by turns disarming, hilarious, and brutally poignant — the masterful playwright and novelist Anosh Irani at his finest.

Awards and Honours

2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards, English Drama (Finalist)

Love Loss and Longing book cover

Anthology (Drama)

Love, Loss, and Longing: South Asian Canadian Plays

Irani, Anosh. “Bombay Black.” In Love, Loss, and Longing: South Asian Canadian Plays, edited by Dalbir Singh. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2015, [27]-99.

PS8315.1 .L68 2015

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Chilana, Rajwant Singh. “Anosh Irani.” In South Asian Writers in Canada: A Bio-Bibliographical Study. Surrey, BC: Asian Publications, 2017, 168.
Z1376 .S68 C45 2017

Ewart, Christopher. “Limping Towards Representation: Writing Disability in Three Twentieth Century Narratives.” M.A. diss., University of Calgary, 2005.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Keren, Michael. “Fiction and the Study of Slums: Anosh Irani’s The Cripple and his Talismans.” Chap. in his Politics and Literature at the Turn of the Millennium. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2015, 89-100.
Available soon


Anosh Irani personal website (includes excerpts from the novels)

Publisher House of Anansi Press

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada (publisher of Doubleday Canada and Knopf Canada)

Publisher Playwrights Canada Press

Publisher Raincoast Books

Interview with Michael Enright from the CBC Sunday Edition broadcast 2004/6/27 (21:47 duration)

Anosh Irani on Dahanu Road, part of CBC Radio One’s The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers,  episode “Anosh Irani” first broadcast June 14, 2010