Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars by Sonia Faleiro
Introduced by Iain Finlayson, a Scottish writer and journalist based in Hay
Prostituted to the cops by her father at the age of eleven, Leela ran away at thirteen to become a high-earning bar dancer in the red-light district of Bombay. As a practical, fearless girl, she believed she could be predator rather than prey in a market-driven culture of love for sale, aspiring to live the dolce vita with all the optimism of youth, good looks, a fast mouth and the snap-back resilience of knicker elastic. When the Indian government closed the dance bars as immoral, the tables turned for Leela and many girls like her who turned to prostitution. In a fast-paced conversational, high-octane circumstantial style, the contradictions of Leela’s hedonistic, honky-tonk, hotsy-totsy, heartbreaking life as a bad-ass Lolita crossed with a naively knowing Sweet Charity, are thoroughly and empathetically explored through a richly textured character sparked to vivid life in a highly coloured work of brilliant literary reportage.