Man On Fire by Stephen Kelman

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 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.

He 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 - he learns more about life, and death, and everything in between than he could ever have bargained for.