A Son of the Circus

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A Son of the Circus
First Edition
Author John Irving
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Random House (US)
Publication date
August 1994
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 633 p.
ISBN 0-679-43496-8
OCLC 29566583
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3559.R8 S64 1994

A Son of the Circus (1994) is John Irving's eighth published novel. The novel was a return to his first publisher, Random House, under whose imprint Irving's first three novels appeared.

In terms of its setting and cast of characters, the novel seems a significant departure for Irving. Though the setting is Mumbai, India and though the book describes the "Great Blue Nile" circus in detail, the novel has many other storylines. A key narrative thread is the growing human understanding in the main character, Farrokh Daruwalla.

The novel includes a crime-story that links the other plotlines: A series of murders take place in Mumbai and nearby places. When this affects an upper-class club and Daruwalla's "dear boy" - an adopted family member - is threatened, the killings are investigated by a sympathetic criminal inspector who long ago married a girl who had witnessed one of the murders.

Another story line concerns twin brothers who do not know each other at first. One is a famous movie actor starring in the Inspector Dhar series, which are scripted by none other than Dr. Daruwalla. The other is a Jesuit who causes all sorts of confusion when he arrives and annoys others. The twins meet when the Jesuit apprentice leaves his religious ambitions behind.


In an interview with Irving, the author noted that he considers the characters of his novels, including "A Son of the Circus", to be products not of imagination but of keen observations.