home gif

“One of CanLit's most innovative chameleons.”

- Quill & Quire

Anosh Irani has published three critically acclaimed novels: The Cripple and His Talismans, a national bestseller; The Song of Kahunsha, which was an international bestseller and was shortlisted for Canada Reads and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; and Dahanu Road, which was nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize. His play Bombay Black won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play, and his anthology The Bombay Plays: The Matka King & Bombay Black was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. His work has been translated into eleven languages. His new novel, The Parcel, is published by Knopf. He lives in Vancouver.

  • Anosh Irani 1
  • Anosh Irani 2
  • Anosh Irani 3
  • Anosh Irani 4

The Parcel’s astonishing heart, soul and unforgettable voice is Madhu - a eunuch 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, India. Madhu identifies herself as a “hijra” - a person belonging to the third sex, neither man nor woman. Now, at forty, she has moved away from prostitution, her trade since her teens, and is forced to beg on the streets to support the charismatic head of her hijra clan, Gurumai. One day, Madhu receives a call from a woman named Padma Madam, the most feared brothel owner in the district: a “parcel” has arrived - code for a young girl who has been trafficked from the provinces - and Madhu must prepare it for its fate. Despite Madhu’s reluctance, Gurumai forces her to take the job. As Madhu does her skilled work, her emotions spiral out of control and her past returns to haunt her, threatening to unravel a lifetime’s carefully constructed identity. Here is a timely new novel that, like so much of Anosh Irani’s extraordinary literary work, takes its inspiration from the world of Bombay, even as its characters enthrall and speak to us all.

“The Parcel is a magnificent novel, with powerfully imagined characters who yanked me into their lives from the first page and would not let go of me until the last. It is bold, bawdy, tender, funny, sorrowful, all that life is made up of, and when I did reach the end I felt abandoned.”

- Anita Rau Badami

“As engrossing as any thriller, Anosh Irani’s novel offers readers so much more. An aggregate of storytelling accomplishments, The Parcel captivates with its vividly rendered characters. . . . Deeply affecting.”

- Quill & Quire

In addition to the acknowledgements that appear in the book itself, the work of so many talented scholars, writers, and photographers has contributed to the author’s understanding of the world of The Parcel:
Joseph T. Bockrath, Urvashi Butalia, Zia Jaffrey, Anita Khemka, Siddharth Kara, Vinay Lal, Jennifer Loh, Mary Ellen Mark, Anahita Mukherjee, Serena Nanda, Laurence W. Preston, Gayatri Reddy, Amisha R.Patel, Dr. Piyush Saxena, Jaba Shah, Radha Sharma, Chinki Sinha, Dayanita Singh, Ketan Tanna, Swadha Taparia, Hazel Thompson.
The author would like to thank the following individuals for their support and assistance during the writing of this novel:
Riyaaz Amlani, Mathieu Boisvert, Trevor Carolan, Glen D’Mello, Jeevika Goyal, Allan Hepburn, Pasha Khan, Noushin Khushrushahi, Noah Richler, James Robertson, Sheuli Sethi, Nirmal Shah, Roy Wadia, and Sion.
A special thank you to Vandana Kriplani for so generously sharing her time and insight.

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.

“Anosh Irani does for Iranis what Rohinton Mistry did for Parsis.
The Irani community comes alive for those who do not know it.”

- Sunday Times of India

“The soul-searching journey of three generations of Iranis is blended into a heart-warming story…
The author portrays an unlikely yet compelling romance between a young Irani man and an even younger Warli woman with an exquisite touch. The beauty and purity of their love lingers even when it is violently truncated…The stories of generations as well as of individuals unfold on a sweeping scale, intertwining and coming full circle.”

- The Deccan Herald, India

“… exquisitely plotted, researched and written … a story of intertwined destinies and uncomfortable class divisions crafted in an unapologetic voice.”

- Mint Lounge, India

“Anosh Irani’s latest offering is a saga of unrelenting tragedy and a tale well told.”

- The Calcutta Telegraph

Dahanu Road goes beyond sepia-tinted nostalgia to depict the savage wrestling for power between landlords and Warli workers…the plot [is] taut and suspenseful…a chronicle of the eccentric members of one of the world’s most exclusive and quickly declining clubs- the Zoroastrian community…Alternately tragic and funny, Dahanu Road doesn’t lose sight of it all.”

- Time Out, New Delhi


- Elle India

“…Dahanu Road is engagingly written and Irani creates a lovable cast of characters.”

- Mumbai Boss

"Author Anosh Irani provides us with a unique blend of fact and fiction, interspersing village life with realities of Irani history. A heart-wrenching chronicle of love and loss, Dahanu Road is one man's search for truth in a sea of deception.”

- The Times of India

“After a long time, an unputdownable book. A fascinating insight into Dahanu’s Irani and Warli communities, written with warmth, honesty, and a great deal of humour by a skilled storyteller.”

- Sooni Taraporevala, Oscar nominated screenwriter of Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala & The Namesake

“Anosh Irani moves back and forth through the generations skillfully. His writing is visual and intense, and he creates his flawed characters with humour and compassion as they struggle with changing times and cultural mores, while trying to survive the ghosts of the past. Irani gives us a fascinating and exotic story that takes place within a little known historical context of Iran/Indian history.”

- The Chronicle Herald

“Anosh Irani has a talent for peeling back layers of history and class in brilliant tales that are wittily folkloric, devastatingly political, and flamboyantly mythological. He must come from a long line of storytellers, fire keepers and, I suspect, also magicians.”

- Rawi Hage, Author of De Niro’s Game & Cockroach

“A beautiful novel, Dahanu Road is big with love and infused with the passion of Anosh Irani’s gentle yet shrewd prose.”

- Donna Morrissey, Author of What They Wanted & Kit’s Law

“Anosh Irani’s third novel, Dahanu Road, offers a blend of personal family memories, historic truths and rich storytelling…it’s proof positive that there’s another superior talent from Southeast Asia living here. In writing about distant worlds he shows us the exotic Other, while at the same time enacting on foreign stages the moral challenges we all face.”

- National Post

“Like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Dahanu Road, by Anosh Irani, is a story of forbidden love. Irani writes evocatively in a tale that has humour and texture as well as pathos.”

- Elle Canada

“Irani weaves an intricate web of personal and political relationships… With characters as rooted in the earth as the trees of the orchard, Dahanu Road springs to life. The fruits of Irani’s labours will surely win him the acclaim he’s enjoyed for his past work.”

- Winnipeg Free Press

“Irani keeps the intricate story moving . . . as grandfather and grandson struggle with the behaviours expected of their class. . . . A fascinating look at what can and can’t be controlled despite the best of intentions.”

- Globe and Mail

“Simply told and nicely paced. Readers who have never set foot in India will get a feel for the country.”

- Vancouver Sun

Dahanu Road is the sort of novel book clubs will be drawn to like moths to a porch light for its exotic setting and the love story at its heart. . . . It’s an intriguing place Irani shows us, a place where old struggles yield beauty and love, as well as death and pain.”

- New Brunswick Telegraph-journal

“Irani’s writing seems to capture the heat of an Indian summer. As he delivers a tragic love story, he also writes about peoples unfamiliar to most Canadians, telling of class differences and connection to the land. Anosh Irani is one of the best young writers in Canada.”

- Uptown Magazine

Dahanu Road has much in common with Rohinton Mistry’s Giller-Prize winning A Fine Balance…Irani unravels convoluted history and class division to lay bare a grand narrative….The pages are saturated with rich detail. The smells, vistas, religious rituals, and rhythms of nature on the road are key to the narrative’s power.”

- Herenb.com

It is 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 beyond its garden walls - a paradise he calls Kahunsha, “the city of no sadness.” But when he runs away to search for his long-lost father, he finds himself thrust into the chaos of the streets, alone, possessing 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. Fueled only by a desire to find his father and the dream that Bombay will someday become Kahunsha, Chamdi struggles for survival on its brutal streets. But when he is caught up in the beginnings of the savage violence that will soon engulf the city, his dreams confront reality. Moving, poignant, and wonderfully rich in the sights and sounds of Bombay, The Song of Kahunsha is a compelling story of hopes and dreams, and of the fragility of childhood innocence.

“The novel shocks and educates us about the degraded life of children on the streets of Bombay, and the fantasy of Kahunsha demonstrates the power of imagination in the face of adversity. {A} compelling work recalling Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner…”

- Library Journal

”Anosh Irani… reveal{s} the tender heart of human need in his devastating yet surprisingly gentle novel…”

- Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Irani is a gifted storyteller, and {The Song of Kahunsha}, Dickensian in its plot and its vivid prose, is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking.”

- Booklist

“{Irani‘s} melodies in The Song of Kahunsha are at once bright and melancholic, his characters and senses as sharp as tusks and his plot as lithe as children running.”

- The National Post

“…{H}eartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful…Irani shows that beauty can be found even in the bleakest settings. Irani does such a good job of creating a living, breathing city that at times it is almost overwhelming.”

- Quill & Quire

“{Irani} rewrites Dickens’ Oliver Twist with his native Bombay replacing nineteenth-century London…. Pure storytelling.”

- Toronto Star

“Evocative and colourful.”

- The London Free Press

“A gripping and compassionate novel that will resonate long after readers have completed it...calls to mind Rohinton Mistry‘s A Fine Balance.”

- Winnipeg Free Press

“Beautiful.... {It} vindicates the fragile but triumphant scope of childhood imagination with touching grace.”

- The Globe and Mail

“{Chamdi’s} relentless struggle to survive makes him one of this year’s most unforgettable heroes.”

- Edmonton Journal

“With understated skill, Anosh Irani tells such a darkly enchanting story of the abandoned children of Bombay that I felt swept away by their fate and entangled in the world’s too believable cruelty towards the innocent. Irani’s shocking tale unfolds with a macabre and terrifying beauty that is both heartbreaking and compelling.”

- Wayson Choy, Author of All That Matters & The Jade Peony

“Comparisons to Oliver Twist are spurious – this novel is in a class by itself.”

- Shauna Singh Baldwin

A fable set in the chaos of Bombay, The Cripple and His Talismans marks the emergence of a unique, engaging voice. By turns philosophical, funny, violent, and tender, The Cripple and His Talismans tells the many-layered, surreal story of an amputee in search of his lost arm. Alienated from his privileged upbringing by his handicap, the unnamed narrator sets off on his quest. He encounters bizarre and fascinating characters: a beggar who lives under an egg cart; a leper who bites off his own finger and presents it to the cripple; a lady who sells rainbows; a blind man who can not go to the bathroom unless he hears the sound of a train; and a mysterious coffin-maker. The cripple soon becomes a riddle-solver, and the trail of clues inevitably leads him to a godlike character named Baba Rakhu - a master of the underworld who procures and sells lost limbs. From Baba, the narrator learns the story of his lost arm and a new maxim: that the world cannot be changed by ending suffering, but by a more judicious distribution of it.

“A highly imaginative novel, full of humour, poetry, and insights, written in a beautiful, spare style. Throughout the narrative looms a great city, Bombay, crazily reflected in the life of one of its inhabitants who, by means baffling, heinous, desperate, and often very funny, seeks to embrace the divine with both arms.”

- Yann Martel, Author of Life of Pi

“Irani’s brilliant debut novel, The Cripple and His Talismans, radiates with the energy of Bombay, albeit a dark energy... Irani commands attention from the first sentence.”

- The Globe and Mail

The Cripple and His Talismans makes demands on the reader, but our effort is triply rewarded - first, by the lush imagery of the writing; second, because of its surprises and, finally, because of its deep moral gravity.... This debut novel marks a step in the evolution of Canadian literature.”

- The Vancouver Sun

“Darkly comic and brave, this novel has no fear when it comes to facing the lepers, beggars, and prostitutes of the city. Irani seeks out territory that would frighten away other writers.... The book’s sheer audacity and humour elevate it well above the level of most first novels.”

- Quill & Quire

“Sly…Irani captures the cadence and inflections of his surreal Bombay perfectly.”

- National Post

“An impressive debut, a beautifully written modern-day fable.”

- Ottawa Citizen

“A book with a message, but one that is artfully and originally integrated into an entertaining and accessible fable structure. The language is rich, the dialogue precise and nuanced.”

- Times Colonist

“A remarkable book. The writing is stylish, and the author’s willingness to take risks, disarming.”

- The Edmonton Journal

“Anosh Irani has an eye for the absurdities of human existence and an ear for the comedy inherent in nearly everything we say. This is a marvelous debut.”

- BBC News, The World Books

“…[A] lush debut novel…an undercurrent of dark humour as well as Irani’s atmospheric evocation of Bombay enliven this compelling story.”

- Publishers Weekly

“Irani’s prose is audacious and spare. A challenging offering from a writer with a penchant for mixing the profane and divine.”

- Booklist

The Cripple and His Talismans is an absurd, and absurdly eloquent tale of a man who wanders Bombay in search of his lost arm. The book is a toothy metaphor for modern India and the forces that cripple it. Canada-based Irani deftly weaves the coarse realities of Bombay with dystopian notions of giants and rainbow hawkers. Irani’s flair for wordplay and leering wit make The Cripple... an enthralling story that won’t leave you in a hurry.”

- Elle India

The Cripple and His Talismans is a surreal tale set within the folds of a breathing entity called Bombay. Irani’s prose is both imaginative and strikingly visual in its lucidity and style. How the author moves towards the denouement makes for a startling read in this tale of lost and found… replete with a sense of whimsicality….”

- Bengal Post, India

The Cripple and His Talismans by Anosh Irani is a unique book. The journey of the man in search of his missing arm is often hilarious, sad, and at the same time human and absurd.”

- IBNLive

“Irani’s writing is both simple and startling, his musing on faith and morality especially quirky and strong... The Cripple and His Talismans is downright splendid.”

- The Asian Reporter

“These are the real books of Mumbai…”

- Scroll.in

“Read it for the audacity of a wordsmith who sets out to write a prose poem of the fantastic, mythic, horrible and hilarious memories he has of a city he once knew.”

- Live Mint

Men In White

the men in white


When Abdul’s cricket team decides to take action to end their losing streak, they talk of recruiting Abdul’s brother, Hasan, who is an expert at the sport. But bringing Hasan from India to Canada will take more than just a plane ticket, and not all members of the team agree with the high cost. Follow this heartwarming story of how home can be found in sport and unite family across nations.

World Premiere at the Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver, in February 2017.

Winner of 4 Dora Mavor Moore Awards including Outstanding New Play (2006)

Nominated for The Governor General's Award (2007)

Nominated for 4 Dora Mavor Moore Awards (2016)

Bombay Black is a love story between a blind man and a dancer. In a seaside flat, the iron-willed Padma takes money from men so they may watch her daughter, Apsara, 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. Kamal is somehow linked to their past. His secret threatens to change each of their lives forever.

“Intrigue, betrayal, love and seduction. This month’s most riveting watch on Mumbai’s theatre circuit is Bombay Black.”

- Elle Magazine

“Irani entwines fantasy with reality...a moving story.”

- Time Out Mumbai

“It is a play that proves the strength of love over hatred and the power of dreams over the desire for revenge. Bombay Black deals with horrific realities and difficult choices. The play succeeds in being both grotesque and poignant.”

- The Hindu, New Delhi

Bombay Black has taken the gender war to where it should belong. It no longer considers femininity to be the obliging lump of flesh for male chauvinism to knead, pound and mould into carnal subjugation. In contrast, femininity here is a hissing snake with unadulterated anger, writhing and waiting to pounce upon the sinning male for revenge. Bombay Black is a searing play.”

- The Pioneer, New Delhi

“A gripping tale about Apsara, a radiant and beautiful dancer, who is forced to perform for men at the behest of her hardened-by-circumstances mother, Padma. Padma’s dry sense of humour, delivered matter-of-factly with perfect timing…our attention never wavers. Sound, sets and lights fade away as the three actors bring the stage alive on the strength of their talent.”

– The Business Standard, New Delhi

“The acting is brilliant. Apsara as a dancer is fabulous, Kamal with his convincing dialogue delivery, holds the spectator, but Padma with her wicked sense of humour steals the show. Bombay Black brings to fore ugly contrasts and a precarious balance between hope and despair.”

– Every Tuesday

“The play's plot is engaging and the acting is impressive. The excellent use of lighting in a limited space deserves mention.”

– The Asian Age

“Anosh Irani creates a world of magic and realism that simultaneously exist in his play. The story and characters comfortably travel in and out of reality with the help of their imagination; one minute they are in the living room, the next in a golden chariot.”

– Mid Day

**** (4 stars) “Bombay Black focuses on the complex and conflicting relationship between an angry old woman (the versatile Deena Aziz) and her daughter Apsara (Anita Majumdar), a beautiful exotic dancer. When Apsara's client Kamal (Sanjay Talwar) unearths secrets from the family's past, the two characters take on an unexpected depth and darkness. This sudden and seamless tonal shift establishes one of Bombay Black's many graceful contrasts. Playwright Anosh Irani carefully navigates between convincing casual conversation and rich lyricism...a precarious balance between beautiful mythology and ugly realism, between hope and despair.”

- Eye Weekly

NNNN – “Anosh Irani's sultry, spooky and surreal tale of thwarted love and bittersweet revenge. Anita Majumdar plays Apsara with emotional and physical force. Opposite Sanjay Talwar's gentle, dreamy Kamal, their relationship beautifully captures the optimism of love against all odds. Director Brian Quirt tackles the story with a strong sense of scene composition, anchoring Irani's text with strong, often disturbing images.”

- Now Magazine

“...lovely theatre, well-designed, nicely staged, intriguingly acted and promisingly written... a masterful blend of eroticism and mystery.”

- Toronto Star

“The play unfolds partly as a love story, partly as a study in the oldest of all dramatic subjects, the ethics of revenge. Pungent and lyrical and sometimes witty. Line by line, Irani never hits a false note.”

- National Post

“Sensuous, lyrical, mysterious, sordid, grotesque, romantic and highly emblematic...”

- Globe And Mail

Bombay Black asks its audience to reflect on motivations for human nature and dwell on life’s big questions, even as they suspend their disbelief.”

– Torontoist

“The language of the play is dense and lyrical, the story layered and complex. It's a truly beautiful script, a powerful story told in heightened language. Bombay Black is a must-see: gorgeous and compelling story telling from a creative team of impressive talent.”

- inamagickingdom.com

Bombay Black is an intricately designed and woven piece of theatre that blends movement, poetry, folklore, and a rather complex story line.”

- Mooney on Theatre

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?

“At once poetic and theatrical, The Bombay Plays pulse with grit, humour and despair. Anosh Irani makes an astonishing debut with these two plays. His voice is fierce, funny and wholly original.”

- Governor General's Award Jury, 2007

“Anosh Irani has crafted a story as black and seductive as a desert night.”

- Globe and Mail

“Excellent characterization and humor bring (this) cruel drama to life.”

- The Vancouver Sun

“...raunchy yet elegant...an engaging exploration of the darker side of human nature.”

- The Westender

“Top Rani's desire to understand his sexuality is very powerful. And this is perhaps where east meets west in Irani's intriguing play.”

- Vancouver Courier

“Top Rani, in The Matka King, is a barker much like Celestin in Jerome: the top eunuch in a brothel in the red light district, he has girls to sell and bets to take. Throughout, the writing is deliciously biting and the exchanges very clever. Every line is an opportunity to comment and satirize while the images are vivid and unexpected. Despite (or because of) the humour and the harshness, we feel deeply for these characters.”

– Canadian Literature


Feature film commissioned by director Irena Salina (Flow) and producer Leslie Holleran
(Chocolat, The Cider House Rules).

Anosh Irani has taught Creative Writing at McGill University, The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. His main focus is the novel, short fiction, and playwriting. As Visiting Professor and Writer-in- Residence in the World Literature Department at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver), he is currently teaching a course on short fiction.

For guest lectures and private workshops, please get in touch directly with the author.

For inquiries about rights please email rights@ca.penguingroup.com
For interview or other publicity inquiries, please contact Maximillian Arambulo at

Theatrical Licenses available through Pam Winter, Gary Goddard Agency. www.garygoddardagency.com 416 928 0299

Jody Hotchkiss (Hotchkiss and Associates)
info@haalit.com 212 253 0161

To contact the author directly: anosh@anoshirani.com