The Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year 2011
Sonia Faleiro is an award-winning reporter and writer. She is the author of a book of fiction, The Girl, and a contributor to numerous anthologies including AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India. She has reported for publications including India Today and Tehelka, and is now a contributing editor with Vogue. Sonia was born in Goa, studied in Edinburgh and lives in San Francisco. She is working on her second book of non-fiction.
* A harrowing and heart-breaking account ... a tour de force of reportage, whose depth, insight and resonance make it the equal of the best fiction. [Faleiro] has portrayed the tragedy of this world without a shred of sentimentality. In this she has done justice to her characters for whom sentimentality - like romance, love and honesty - are luxuries they can rarely afford. Sunday Times * A riveting expose ... For a book that's so short, Faleiro manages to pack a lot in: pimps, gangsters, transvestites, cops and madams. But its most outstanding quality to my eye is the window it offers on the widespread sexual repression that exists in India today, and the murky middle-class morality that rules it ... The real triumph of Beautiful Thing is how Faleiro dismantles the grand tradition of marriage in India, exposing it for what it is - a form of slavery for a large percentage of women who are bound to their husbands for food and the roofs over their heads, but rarely ever for love. Observer * A gripping and intimate portrayal of the lives of the women who work in that industry. She manages to evoke shock, rage and laughter...this book is a moving testament to the girls like [Leela]. Literary Review * Useless to describe the pathos and singular power of this book. Beautiful Thing is, quite simply, one of the finest books on Bombay ever written. Spectator * In this tour de force of heartrending reportage, Sonia Faleiro shows the ugly brutality which has torn away the foundations of so many lives Independent * The rich, gaudy tapestry that Faleiro weaves is a reminder that some of the best recent books about India ... give us the big picture by focusing on the microcosm. Financial Times * Beautiful Thing is a brilliant debut that catapults Sonia Faleiro straight to the top of the premier division of Indian writers of non-fiction ... Beautiful Thing opens up a hidden world with startling insight and intimacy, and strangely is both a tragic monument to the abused bar girls of Bombay and a celebration of their amazing resilience and spirit. -- William Dalrymple, Author Of Nine Lives * Faleiro writes her way into the bloodstream with this mesmeric book, fashioned with heart and enviable acuity. A shocking, funny and memorable ride. -- Nikita Lalwani, Author Of Gifted * A rare glimpse into dismissed lives. Sonia Faleiro brings a novelist's eye for detail and a depth of empathy to her work. This is a magnificent book of reportage that is also endowed with all the terror and beauty of art. -- Kiran Desai, Booker Prize-Winning Author Of The Inheritance Of Loss * ... With her we hear, we see, we feel and finally know the world behind that door: a world that was unimaginable before Faleiro drew us there, but is unforgettable when the last page is turned, the last beaded curtain drawn to a close. -- Gregory David Roberts, Author Of Shantaram * Throws the doors open on Mumbai's sex trade. Independent * [Leela's] rich character is sparked to vivid life in a highly coloured work of brilliant literary reportage. Times * Saved from doominess by [Faleiro's] striking empathy, sensitivity, and sharp ear. Independent on Sunday * Beautiful Thing is a meticulous, moving account of the battle for social mobility and personal freedom in Bombay. Daily Telegraph * Beautiful Thing is not for the faint-hearted. The stories of the girls Faleiro meets are as brutal as anything fiction could conjure. The Scotsman * Remarkable ... the only hard thing about Beautiful Thing will be putting it down once you've started. ... Truly one of a kind Curious Book Fans
Award winning-journalist and novelist Faleiro (The Girl) is the outsider in this memoir. As a reporter, she befriends Leela, one of Bombay's bar dancers, here tells her story and, by extension, the story of untold other bar dancers. Within the hierarchy of sex workers in Bombay [now Mumbai], bar dancers are neither street prostitutes nor escorts. They often have "husbands"-a single semi-steady relationship with a married man-while they carry out their dancing careers. Leela's story, which appears to be a common one, is fascinating, though it may be hard for some readers to handle. Worse is the desperate turn the girls' lives take when the dance bars shut down, often owing to back-alley local politics, and the choices they must make in a society that so devalues them. Verdict Readers see Leela through the eyes of Faleiro, who relates this tale as an audience member as much as a reporter. Though this title is informative about the underside of life in India, the subject of the sex trade culture makes for a distinctly sobering read.-Julie Kane, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.