Nominated by:

The State Library of South Australia, Adelaide

Publisher of nominated edition:

Bloomsbury, UK

Man on Fire

Stephen Kelman    

I was beating the life out of Bibhuti with a baseball bat when my first monsoon broke…

John Lock has come to India to meet his destiny.

He has fled the quiet desperation of his life in England to offer his help to a man who has learned to conquer pain, a world record breaker who specialises in feats of extreme endurance and ill-advised masochism. In answering Bibhuti’s call for assistance, John hopes to rewrite a brave end to a life poorly lived.

But as they take their leap of faith together, and John is welcomed into Bibhuti’s family, and into the colour and chaos of Mumbai, he learns more about life, and death, and everything in between than he could ever have bargained for.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Stephen Kelman was born in Luton in 1976. Pigeon English, his first novel, was shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Guardian First Book Award, and he was also shortlisted for the New Writer of the Year Award at the Galaxy National Book Awards. Pigeon English is a set text on the GCSE syllabus. Stephen lives in St Albans.

Librarian’s Comments

This is a fascinating look at life in India and one man’s obsession with the Guinness Book of Records. Based on a true story, it is narrated alternatively by a sad and lost Englishman who travels to India, and local Mumbai resident, Bibhuti Nayak, who attempts some bizarre world record attempts that require control of mind over body. A friendship and subsequent leap of faith develops between the two men. We loved this story, and also the peripheral characters.

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