The Amazing Absorbing Boy

Amazing Absorbing Boy cover

Winner of the Trillium Book Award

Winner of the 2011 Toronto Book Awards

Longlisted for the 2011 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.  

Voted an Ontario Top 10 on CBC Canada Reads

Named a “Best of 2010” book by NOW magazine and Uptown magazine.


(NOVEL) Hardcover, 320 pages, Knopf Canada (January 2010) ISBN: 978-0-307-39727-0 (0-307-39727-0). Trade Paperback, 352 pages, Vintage Canada, 978-0-307-39728-7 (0-307-39728-9) $19.95. eBook from Knopf Canada (January 2010) ISBN: 978-0-307-37402-8 (0-307-37402-5). *To purchase, click The Amazing Absorbing Boy, click eBook link, or go to Random House/Knopf Canada.


About the book . . .

(from the publisher) “Both familiar and strange, this story of a large Canadian city seen through the wide eyes of a naive and inexperienced young immigrant — wise in the culture of comic books — is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Samuel is just 17 when his mother dies and he is called to live with the father he has only heard of. He leaves his village in Trinidad and flies to Toronto, where he finds his father living in a place called Regent Park. Samuel is lonely in this ‘big mall of a country’, but he has his memories of superheroes — his mentors — to guide him, including the memory of an unusual friend, who was two superheroes in one, as he sets out to explore what Toronto has to offer.”

Read an excerpt . . .

Chapter One, “THE NOWHEREIAN” – Click here.

Praise for The Amazing Absorbing Boy . . .

The Amazing Absorbing Boy “creates a complex, witty and hopeful portrait of an imaginative youth determined to forge his own path in multi-cultural Toronto.” — Jurors for the 2011 Toronto Book Awards.

“One of ‘The Most Anticipated Books of 2010.'”
— National Post’s The Afterword

“Toronto provides an ideal if unsurprising setting for an assimilation story, and Maharaj expertly captures the varied carols of its urban multiculture.” Read more from the essay “Melting Plots.”
— The Walrus

“A novel as sharply observed and entertaining as this is obviously a lot more fun than the latest entry in CanLit’s Giller-bait sweepstakes […] The language has a charming, natural ease, casually dropping articles and prepositions in a colloquial rhythm and delivering comic punchlines with dry, understated effect. But it is also a novel with deeper layers. At heart it is a rich exploration of the immigrant psychodrama of attraction and repulsion, welcome and paranoia, perception and misunderstanding.”
Toronto Star

“Whatever the future holds, ‘old’ Regent Park survives in Maharaj’s compelling new novel, The Amazing Absorbing Boy.”
— Mark MedleyNational Post

“Samuel’s ingenue-like innocence is very much to Maharaj’s satiric purpose, like the innocence of Voltaire’s Candide. Through that innocence we see the world — in this case, Toronto — in a fresh way […] Maharaj never gives the feeling that he is crafting picturesque semi-comic figures merely to add colour to his narrative. These figures are both too enigmatic and too vivid for that. Samuel’s first-person narrative itself produces an air of unreality in which the eccentrics fit right in.”
Philip Marchand, Open Book, National Post

“In many ways The Amazing Absorbing Boy presents a fresh take on the immigrant experience, a perspective of young immigrants the author feels is rarely represented in Canadian literature.”
— The Canadian Press

“In this charming literary novel, Trinidad-born Canadian Rabindranath Maharaj presents the fear and excitement of immigrating to Canada through the eyes of a 17-year-old Trinidadian teenager.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Maharaj superbly articulates the longing for home, on the one hand, and the dream of success in Canada on the other […] an exhilarating interpretation of immigrant experience.”
Globe and Mail

“This book is a rarity — I would give it as a gift to anyone between the ages of 14 and 94. And I don’t think I can name you five other books published in the last ten years that I would say that about. By any just standard, The Amazing Absorbing Boy should become a Canadian classic. And that’s the final word.”
By The Book Reviews

“There is an engaging, surreal quality to the story.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Maharaj is a sensitive observer who renders the familiar new and strange in this bittersweet tale of an everyday hero navigating a new land.”
Camilla Gibb

“Maharaj is an often funny, sharply observant stylist.”
The Montreal Gazette

“An immigrant’s tale unlike any we’ve been told, The Amazing Absorbing Boy walks our streets with fresh eyes, taking us to places we’ve been many times and show us what we’ve missed. This is a book Canadians have been waiting a long time to read.”
Steven Galloway

The Amazing Absorbing Boy is an amazing, absorbing read, one that opens a door on a strange new world called Canada. In prose that is filled with wonder and gentle humour, Maharaj ushers us through this culture from the perspective of one who has just landed in this cold, liberating, frightening and heavenly country, which is made of many countries, this place we all call home. To read Maharaj’s novel is to laugh at ourselves, to wonder at ourselves, and most importantly, to understand ourselves. If you haven’t yet discovered Rabindranath Maharaj, discover him with this novel.”
Gail Anderson-Dargatz

“Robin Maharaj’s novel, The Amazing Absorbing Boy, is a funny/tender book, to my knowledge an entirely new way of surveying the urban landscape and finding not just the unguessed at, unvisited parts of Toronto but of the Modern City. Highly original in its premise, it is in part an homage and in part a spoof of the sub-genre of super hero comic books — a highly intelligent, roaringly funny homage. Put aside the sombre ‘I must read this book because it might be a form-of self-betterment’ notion that’s been drilled into you about CanLit. Be amazed. Be absorbed. Have fun. It won’t hurt a bit.”
Wayne Johnston

“Think you know Toronto? Then try getting another perspective. You won’t find a fresher one than in The Amazing Absorbing Boy. [… It’s] a very big book. Highly recommended.”
— NOW Magazine

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