Book review | Circus Folk & Village Freaks by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal

Circus Folk & Village Freaks by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal

Author: Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal 

Genre: Poetry, Narrative Poems, Fantasy Fiction 

No. of pages: 155

Published by: Vishwakarma Publications 

Published on: 20th September 2018 

Format: Hardcover

My rating: ★★★★★

Meet the beautiful people of the Circus, and the freaks who live in the Village next to them. Mangled, jangled, misunderstood, all find place in the rich tapestry of this book.

Siamese twins separate to lose half a heart each, and find snake-man and tiger-taming lovers. A man bitten by a crocodile becomes a God, and a Devadasi woos the entire countryside with her culinary artistry.

Fates intertwined lead sometimes to tragedy, sometimes happy summits of fame. A clown finds his place in Hollywood and mute animals break unspeakable chains. A twisted man falls in love with a mirror and a white man is unmade by the Indian sun.

In this book are tales for every season and every reason. Tales of human depravity that take innocent lives, and of a murderers’ insanity that follows, a fitting revenge by nature, red in tooth and claw.

These stories are told in the form of narrative poems in rhyming couplets.

Look inside and you will find, you have been to this Village. Surely, you have been to this Circus too.

It's a book like no other. I'm not kidding. This is that one book that I'll never ever forget and keep telling people to just go READ IT ASAP.  I've read enough narrative poems for English classes in school to be able to call Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal's works being at par with those genius works we read and admired.

Circus Folk And Village Freaks is a book filled with amazement. 18 stories of an unusual and peculiar village and an equally queer circus people, that will baffle you. And it's not just about peculiarity and weirdness, the author has deftly covered issues like sexual orientation, patriarchy, abandonment, dominance, stereotyping, and ever hypertrichosis (the genetic disorder where females have excessive facial hair).

The tales will hook you up and from the beginning of the first couplet to the last, you'll find yourself sucked up in the story.

The tales have been written in rhythmic couplets spanning over almost 4-5 pages and each tale is a masterpiece. Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal has an excellent story-telling style, like those in street plays where you find yourself drawn to the play even if you are busy and have someplace to go. She'll draw you towards her stories like moths drawn to a flame. If you think I'm exaggerating the go on, read this book and see for yourself. Her lyrical style and the rhymes she used to narrate an entire story without even once flying around the words has just marveled me.

If I could summarize this whole review in one simple action, it would be *chef's kiss*.


Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal holds an MA from Kings College, London. She is a recipient of the 14th Beullah Rose Poetry Prize by Smartish Pace. She was shortlisted for the Third Coast Fiction Prize, 2018. She is featured on the Masthead of the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review as a Frequent Contributor. A popular Spoken Word poet, she performs at events across venues in India. Her page poetry is featured in reputed international literary journals such as Smartish Pace, Dunes Review,Typehouse Literary Review, SOFTBLOW, Broad River Review, Gyroscope Review and many more. Her poetry will be anthologized alongside the work of renowned poets such as Gulzar and Piyush Mishra in 2019. She lives with her 4-year-old son, husband and two dog babies in Pune, India.



I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange of an honest and unbiased review. 

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