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Man on Fire by Stephen Kelman

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John Lock travels to India to meet his destiny: a destiny dressed in a white karate suit and sporting an impressive moustache. He has fled the quiet desperation of his life in England: decades wasted in a meaningless job, a marriage foundering in the wake of loss and a terrible secret he cannot bear to share with his wife. In the process he learns more about life, and death, and everything in between than he could ever have bargained for...

If you like Stephen Kelman you might also like to read books by Yvette Edwards, Rose Tremain and Emma Henderson.


Man on Fire by Stephen Kelman

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

John lock has come 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. Bibhuti Nayak's next record attempt - to have fifty baseball bats broken over his body - will set the seal on a career that has seen him rise from poverty to become a minor celebrity in a nation where standing out from the crowd requires tenacity, courage and perhaps a touch of madness. 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 - where he encounters ping-pong-playing monks, a fearless seven-year-old martial arts warrior and an old man longing for the monsoon to wash him away.


Praise for Stephen Kelman:

'Pigeon English is a book to fall in love with: a funny book, a true book, a shattering book ...not only for its appealing tone, but for its courage and boldness' Erica Wagner, The Times

'The humour, the resilience, the sheer ebullience of its narrator - a hero for our times - should ensure [Pigeon English] becomes, deservedly, a classic' Daily Mail

'Pigeon English paints a vivid portrait with honesty, sympathy and wit ... It is horrifying, tender and funny' ***** Daily Telegraph

'Simultaneously accurate and fantastical, this boy's love letter to the world made me laugh and tremble all the way through. Pigeon English is a triumph Emma' Donoghue, author of Room

About the Author

Stephen Kelman

Stephen Kelman was born in Luton in 1976. After finishing his degree he worked variously as a warehouse operative, a careworker, and in marketing and local government administration. He decided to pursue his writing seriously in 2005, and has completed several feature screenplays since then. Pigeon English is his first novel.

Author photo © Jonathan Ring

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Book Info

Publication date

13th August 2015


Stephen Kelman

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Author's Website


Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


320 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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