book cover of Death of a Circus

Death of a Circus

A novel by

Death of a Circus tells the story of the Bringlebright Circus, a small fictional troupe traveling the United States in the early twentieth century, an era when circuses are falling out of favor and only the largest shows are enduring. Initially, the book follows Lor Cole, a young African American man from Connecticut who dreams of leaving behind his provincial past and making a name for himself as a high wire walker. Upon joining Bringlebright, however, Lor quickly learns that the characters who join him under the Big Top have their own stories to tell.

Closest to Lor is Cirella Flannery, a beautiful and startlingly devious fire-eater who has struggled for survival since her spirited days in a juvenile detention facility. Ranju, Bringlebright's reclusive chief animal trainer, hides a history of magic and trickery that may be his undoing. Stalwart, Ranju's young protege, finds solace in his journal even as he grapples with a mysterious connection to Lor. Presiding over the show is Mr. Barnacle, the Ringmaster, a charlatan who constantly concocts new stratagems to keep Bringlebright afloat. Together, these performers create a colorful ensemble that illuminates the twin sides of the show: one rapturously razzle-dazzle, the other rough-and-tumble.

Death of a Circus is a novel of multiple narrative lines. It captures the rapid pacing of an adventure story, but it is ultimately much more. Chock full of circus allusions, Big Top lingo, folklore and historical detail, it is a far-reaching fairy tale that speaks to the foibles of the human heart and what happens when life is lived both within and outside the center ring spotlight.

Praise for this book

"Puts a fresh spin on the timeworn myths of the big top. Chandra Prasad's Death of a Circus is narrated with Dickensian verve, a keen eye for historical detail, and lots of heart." - Tom Perrotta

"Prasad's narrative dives under the roar of the crowd and the trumpeting of elephants to take you into a world of desperation, high-wire hijinks, romance and murder. Compulsively readable and historically detailed, her lyrical prose creates a powerful mood that sticks with you long after the big top comes down." - Arthur Rosenfeld

"A page-turner, a dark fairy tale rich in its portrayal of its characters, and filled with vivid detail that limns the exotic world of circus performers in another era." - Marian Thurm

"Death of a Circus gives us not only the roar, the glitter, and the chills and thrills of an early twentieth century circus, but also a vivid understanding of the tawdry, dangerous, filthy, and human inner workings of the big top. This is the story of one black drifter who literally rises to the top of the circus world as the greatest, most inventive tightrope walker on earth. Fittingly, the language of Death of a Circus is acrobatic, sinewy, and daring." - Polly Whitney

Used availability for Chandra Prasad's Death of a Circus

Paperback Editions

August 2006 : USA Paperback

Title: Death of a Circus
Author(s): Chandra Prasad
ISBN: 1-59709-024-7 / 978-1-59709-024-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU