Review: Dancing to the Flute by Manisha Jolie Amin

Dancing to the Flute

by Manisha Jolie Amin

An entrancing novel of life, music and dreams.

Abandoned as a young child, Kalu, a cheeky street kid, has against all odds carved out a life for himself in rural India. In the quiet village of Hastinapore, Kalu makes friends: Bal, the solitary buffalo boy, and Malti, a gentle servant girl, who, with her mistress, Ganga Ba, has watched out for Kalu from the first day.

Perched high in the branches of a banyan tree, Kalu chooses a leaf, rolls it tightly and, doing what he’s done for as long as he can remember, blows through it. His pure simple notes dance through the air attracting a travelling healer whose interest will change Kalu’s life forever, setting him on a path he would never have dreamed possible, testing his self-belief and his friendships.

With all the energy and colour of India and its people, Dancing to the Flute is a magical, heart-warming story of this community’s joys and sorrows, the nature of friendship and the astonishing transformative powers of music.

This is a stunningly written book, set in contemporary India, it follows Kalu as a young child, living and earning his wages on the street. He is happy and content in his life, but he has a talent that is discovered by Vaid Dada, who heals him. Vaid Dada convinces his musical brother Guruji to take Kalu on as a student. We then follow Kalu on his amazing pilgrimage of discovery, through journeys he never thought would be possible for a street child, from simple things like sitting in a chair, or sleeping on a mattress, to astonishing things like performing on stage.

This is a book about India that shows a great warmth and depth that I have yet to come across in other stories. It shows that it is possible to follow your dreams, no matter how hard. And that even when life puts difficult obstacles in our way, there just may be a way through them.

I thoroughly enjoyed ready this book, and at the time of this review it is definitely my favourite that has been set in India.

Published by: Allen and Unwin

Recommended Retail Price $29.99

Recommended Age: possibly 18+

My Rating: 4/5

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3 Responses to Review: Dancing to the Flute by Manisha Jolie Amin

  1. Manisha says:

    Wow! Thanks for such a beautiful review – it’s lovely when someone likes what you’ve written. I’ve just had a look at many of your other reivews too… you have a great blog.

    All the very best,
    Manisha

  2. Narda Mahanga says:

    I too really enjoyed this book. I listened to the talking book version, the narrator, Paul English was excellent. Mr English also did the narration for Mao’s last dancer. Dancing to the flute. A great debut. I loved this uplifting caring and spiritual aspect of India especially as it often seems to be missing from books about India. Granted there is poverty and struggle, as well as great wealth. It was just wonderful to read about of lives of ordinary people made luminous – Kalu’s in particular, and, as I enjoy Indian music, fascinating to hear discussion of the ragas, meaning, etc. What next, Manisha?

    N Mahanga

  3. Pingback: Review: Dancing to the Flute (Manisha Jolie Amin) | studentspyglass

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