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Allegro Armstrong Braganza, the eponymous avian chronicler of this novel, is immoral, immortal, irreverent, intelligent, irritable and often drunk. Born in the forests beyond Shillong, he was a foul-mouthed friend of the eccentric Englishman Gareth Armstrong; then coarse companion to his daughter Rachel who married a talented Anglo-Indian piano tuner named Emilio Braganza; and finally avuncular anchor to five subsequent generations of this expansive British-Goan family who travel across India and the globe to further their various quests—Orlando in Cambodia studying the architecture of the Angkor Wat, Bella learning translation in Portugal, Maria in Almora furthering her dance ambitions under the tutelage of Uday Shankar, and Asifio in New Delhi continuing the family’s thriving music shop in Connaught Place. Through shifting tides of fame and fortune over a hundred years, it is Allegro who remains their constant and reliable port of stability.
Wickedly funny and full of surprises, Malay Chatterjee’s The Drunk Bird Chronicles is a sparkling debut that will be read and enjoyed for years to come.