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Sampath Chawla is a complete disappointment to his family. He is born during a torrential rainstorm, in Shahkot, India, to a mother whom the neighbours find thoroughly odd. Nothing but trouble from the start, he disgraces himself at a wedding party, loses his job at the local post office and runs away from home to take refuge in the guava orchard, at the top of a guava tree. There he is mistaken for a holy man and seer when he reveals intimate secrets about the local inhabitants (gleaned from reading their mail in idle moments at the post office). His father can see there is money, at last, to be made from his idle son and sets about doing so with determination. A local journalist, however, is equally determined to unmask him. Although Desai writes with considerable flair, employing an inventive style of English reminiscent of a line of Indian authors from Salman Rushdie to Arundhati Roy, there is something tiresome about this relentlessly perky comedy, and one has a slight suspicion that the European reader is being hoodwinked with fashionable pastiche.