White Man Falling
By Mike Stocks
Police Sub-Inspector (retired) R.M. Swaminathan has suffered a stroke while beating up a Very Guilty Suspect in the lock-up of Mullaipuram Police Station. He can no longer talk properly, command the respect of his community, or give his six daughters the bankrupting dowries they deserve. Is it any wonder that Swami has lost his pride and wants to kill himself using only a puncture-repair kit? Surely a man in these circumstances has good reason to feel cursed when a white man falls out of the sky, dying at his feet and making him a laughing stock. But as further strange incidents occur, Swami’s hometown starts to believe he is walking with God, and life changes for ever…
Mike Stocks’s tale of domestic catastrophe, accidental crime-busting, deluded matchmaking and mystical absurdity brilliantly exemplifies how sometimes in life meaningless events can produce meaningful effects.
A warm-hearted comedy … Stocks’s poetic background … manifests itself in beautiful turns of phrase … and in the interweaving of Indian English throughout the text. There is a vogue in contemporary fiction for leaping between characters and timeframes like a flea seeking a tasty host. White Man Falling is a reminder that a single location and perspective, and linear chronology, can be deeply satisfying.
It is the precision and originality of Mike Stocks’s prose that makes this tragicomedy of Indian manners hard to put down and a joy to pick up.
A rare gem of a comic first novel … Mike Stocks’s White Man Falling‚ set in fast-changing contemporary India‚ delivers an acute‚ affectionately observed satire on modern family life‚ police corruption and the power of religion.
A witty and occasionally lyrical novel.
The Melbourne Age
The writing is witty and engaging … An entertaining read, with all the ingredients of a comedy of errors – confusion, deluded matchmaking, mystical absurdity. There are underlying metaphors, but the book is essentially a satire of the search for meaning in the meaningless.
The New Statesman
White Man Falling is that rare and wondrous thing – a perfectly realized serious comic novel. That it is also a first novel makes it all the more extraordinary.
Mike Stocks was born in Lancashire and educated at Birmingham University. He writes novels, poetry and translations, and has worked both as a lexicographer and as an editor for several British publishers. He is the founder of Anon, the anonymous-submissions poetry magazine. His debut novel, White Man Falling, won the Goss First Novel Award. His poetry collection Folly is published by Herla Publishing.