Book Description

Review Burbidge's book is immensely educative and should be compulsory reading on how a foreigner discovers his true nature but returns home a very strong and confident man in charge of his life. The Boatman will surely take you across the Ganga. Ashok Row Kavi, Hindustan Times. Touching, honest, and brave, The Boatman draws us irresistibly into an intense new world. Vivid descriptions and a heady pace never let the reader go. Dianne Highbridge, author of A Much Younger Man and In the Empire of Dreams While most urban gay men in 80s India might have fantasized about going to explore their sexuality in the West, Burbidge stumbles upon the reverse journey, which he tells with great honesty. It would have been easier to write an exciting sexy book about a white man's adventures in India. This book is far more nuanced and is all the more touching for it.? Sandip Roy, The Boatman unearths many facets of a scene in its salad years, untouched by the activism, identity politics or notions of visibility that came much later, and caught in the quagmire of deep-seated repression, with its secrets, lies and unrelenting truths, and equally, untold treasures.? Vikram Phukan, Midday Burbidge took shocking risks in exploring his homosexuality and found a capacity for the covert that both fascinated and appalled him. Along with his compassionate and respectful depiction of Indian street life and a hunger for discovery, this makes for a memorable read. Jen Banyard, author of Spider Lies and the Riddle Gully mystery seriesAn engrossing, often disturbing, story, grippingly told. It is both every gay man's story and unlike any you've ever read. Robert Dessaix --Cover commendationA tender story of naked lust and obsessive craving as intoxicating as India itself. It made me want to return there. Benjamin Law --Cover commendation Read more From the Author Unlike other books I have written -- biographies, social change, memoirs -- this one is my own story. It took 13 years to write and get published and went through several iterations. I had serious doubts about revealing some of its more intimate aspects, or whether to write it at all. I had no desire to create yet another gay coming-out book or merely to titillate readers. What I did want was to share one of the most profound experiences of my life and the circumstances in which it happened, as authentically as I could. I could have chosen to fictionalize my account, but it seemed to demand a more honest rendering. With one exception, I changed the names of the characters to protect their privacy and in a couple of instances I merged two episodes. At one point, I almost gave up on the task. I hadn't advanced far in the writing when I came across Gregory David Robert's epic novel, Shantaram. Based on events in his own life, it was one of the most moving and gripping tales I had ever read. Written by another Australian who found himself in India, and in Bombay in particular, around the same time I was there, it probes an underworld of crime and poverty and the unique and memorable individuals who inhabit it. I had discovered another subterranean subculture of the same place and period, but my exploits seemed to shrivel into insignificance by comparison. Moreover, Roberts' writing felt so much more compelling than anything I might come up with that I was ready to abandon the task. But others convinced me that my story needed to be told and encouraged me to pursue it. Those of us who live and work in a country different from our own are bound to be changed by it. But India, perhaps more than most, does that to outsiders. It both charms and repels, lures and rejects. It is one of the most human societies I have ever encountered and one of the most inhumane. Personal relationships count for much in India. I was astounded how readily people opened up to me, embraced me, even tried to adopt me into their families. The familiar expression, 'in India, the guest is a god' was proven true again and again. Yet, in the public realm, I often felt more vulnerable and less secure than I ever have in my life. Such is the paradox that is India. The contrast it provided to my native Australia could not have been more stark. Growing up there in the 1950s and 60s in a respectable, conservative environment, I never came to terms with my homosexuality. And my early adult years living in a tightly knit religious-based community in Australia and North America only prolonged that experience. It took India -- and my second stint there, in an urban setting -- to allow that to happen. In a sense, writing The Boatman was my way of thanking India for giving me this gift, along with many others it bestowed upon me. For that, I will be forever grateful. Read more See all Editorial Reviews