Transgender sex worker and trafficked child break hearts at KPU Reads

Mon, Jan 16, 2017

Surrey, B.C. – Meet Madhu, a transgender sex worker, and Kinjal, a child trafficked into her world, in Anosh Irani’s dark, devastating but ultimately redemptive novel, The Parcel, at KPU Reads.

In its second year, KPU Reads brings together students, faculty and the community in discussion around one book. The Parcel chosen for its universal theme of acceptance is about Madhu, a retired transgendered sex worker who is asked to “look after” a young girl who has been trafficked into the notorious red-light district of Bombay and train her for what's to come.

“What I love about The Parcel being selected as part of KPU Reads is that Bombay's red light district is a world so far removed from the physical space that the readers of the novel are in,” said Irani.

Irani grew up opposite Kamathipura (Bombay's red light district) in a compound called The Retreat. It was a quiet almost idyllic place, but directly opposite the gates of The Retreat was a convent school where each evening sex workers would line up.  

“Of course at the time I was too little to know who these women were, or what they did,” recalled Irani. “Some of them had a black paste around their lips and they looked very theatrical. As a child, I viewed their get up as a costume. At some point I found out what the paste is for—it deters clients from kissing them on the mouths—and it gave things a whole new meaning.”   

The Parcel is a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Other critically acclaimed literary works by Irani include: The Song of Kahunsha, shortlisted for Canada Reads and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; Bombay Black won the Dora Movar Moore Award for Outstanding New Play (2006), and The Bombay Plays; The Matka King & Bombay Black was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award.

KPU Reads kicks off with Irani’s reading of The Parcel followed by a meet and greet with the author on Jan. 30 from 3-4 p.m. in the southwest corner of the first floor of Coast Capital Savings Library on KPU’s Surrey campus. There will be light refreshments and a chance to win a copy of the novel. A second reading of the book will take place March 28 from 1-2 p.m.

The events are free and open to the general public. To register and learn more, visit

A photo of Anosh Irani and the cover art of The Parcel is available on Flickr.

About Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at

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