We Once Were Gazelles

Michael Chacko Daniels (MSJ68)

In this coming of age novel set in 1950s Bombay, Michael Chacko Daniels explores both an India that was cosmopolitan, and the slow rise in exclusionary politics in the country, through the life of a Malayali Syrian Christian boy growing up at that time.

Jug Suraiya, author and former associate editor of the Times of India, writes in the Foreword: “Michael Chacko Daniels has been compared favorably with transcultural writers . . . In narrating the stories of Paul Paulose, his two sisters, and their parents in flashback and flash-forward sequences, he not only vividly evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of a long-ago Bombay, but does so in an idiom which owes as much to the Maximum City of the past as to his Kerala heritage and his American influences.

The result is a compelling amalgam of humor, social satire, nostalgia, and verbal legerdemain of no little virtuosity, with many passages lending themselves to being read aloud in the best oral tradition of storytelling. The illustrations, by Rukmini Chakravarty, imbue the work with the visual immediacy of a graphic novel. In all, the book in its nimble elegance resembles the gazelles of its title. You’ll enjoy reading it as much as the author has obviously enjoyed writing it.”