x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The Flying Man focuses on an ageing, ruminating scoundrel

Roopa Farooki writes of a man with a squandered past in a colourful style.

The Flying Man
Roopa Farooki
The Flying Man Roopa Farooki

Meet Maqil, or is it Miguel, Mehmet or Mike? This tender new novel begins with the character in question spending his twilight years in a dingy motel in France.

Years spent looking for the next big con resulted in Maqil changing identities, countries and wives. With the rude shock of old age, he ruminates on his life’s thrills and spills.

A swashbuckling tale of adventure this is not. Maqil thinks of himself as a smooth-talking shyster, but Farooki paints him as a slightly pitiful figure, a confident scoundrel who, in reality, is losing those who are dear to him.

Having such an anti-hero as the narrator is challenging, and it takes a few chapters before Maqil becomes engaging. The novel livens up with the inclusion of lovingly rendered supporting characters such as his strong-willed ex-wife and two adult children.

It’s about a squandered past but the book’s colourful style ensures it does not elicit too much sympathy. Maqil is just a man who made choices, for better or worse.