The Cambridge Curry Club

The Cambridge Curry Club

The title is postcolonial tongue-in-cheek. No curry feasts dripping off the book’s pages. Not even a whiff of tikka masala. No recipes, either. Sorry. Yes, there is life outside and beyond curry.

The novel was inspired by my brief stint at a charity shop on colourful and historic Mill Road in Cambridge, a city usually defined by its colleges. It is a comic story about ordinary people and what happens in their lives when they both lose and take control. My bumbling heroines are three gossipy volunteers of Indian origin and a reticent Irishwoman working in the fictitious IndiaNeed charity shop. Eccentric customers, lovers and husbands stream through its doors.

The shop is both a metaphor for the Diaspora and a stage where each character plays a part and leaves. The novel started life as a play for the Kali Theatre Company and Futures, its venture for new playwrights.

The Curry Club had a rehearsed reading at London’s Soho Theatre in 2003. Its theatricality, dialogue and “scene” quality have been retained in the novel, giving rise to its particular form and structure. No, there isn’t even a focus on one central character. If you are a purist — once again, sorry.


Saumya Balsari is much in the vein of Kiran Desai and Arundhati Roy
— Alexander McCall Smith

A truly charming BlackAmber title that I highly recommend, The Cambridge Curry Club. This is fascinating … very much another in The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency territory.
— Sarah Broadhurst Ones to Watch, Paperback Preview: The Bookseller

Beautifully observed … warm and poignant … a delightful debut novel.
— Meera Syal

Unusual and provocative … if you like a read with chuckles, this is it.
— Ronald Wolfe Writing Comedy

Balsari is at her best when describing the Asian characters working in IndiaNeed … such is the quality of her character observation that the fact that the rest of the world have wandered in from a bad-tempered Tom Sharpe novel, and that the plot is raggedly farcical, is irrelevant.
— English PEN

A real feast of comedy and characters in a wonderful riotous, colourful mix.
— Rosemary Hayes

2004 Edition

This is the drab image of the now out-of-print book.

I can't think why anyone would wish to own or borrow a title with such a dreary cover when no dark misdeeds lurk within.

I hated it so much I even made sure the book sold out so there would be no copies left. Then my original publishers went out of business anyway, and I didn't earn a penny, either. (My moment of dark Dostoevskyian despair to match the cover.)

The 2008 cover designed by my new publishers has a (politically correct and horizontally placed) chili as its dominant image. 

Warning: Several internet second-hand copies for sale sport the old drab cover, so if you are ordering the book, it should be the one with the chili.