Dancing to the Flute

A Novel

Dancing to the Flute

“Kalu picked up the flute by his side and started to play. The sound was deep and full, as if he were translating his thoughts into music. It stayed in the air like dust floating on the sunlight, and each note held the promise of something not quite spoken but maybe heard in the darkness of a dream.”


Abandoned as a young child, Kalu, a cheeky street kid, has carved out a life for himself in rural India. In the quiet village of Hastinapore, Kalu has also found friends: Bal, the solitary boy who tends the local buffaloes, and Malti, a gentle servant girl, who with her mistress, Ganga Ba, has watched over Kalu since he first wandered into the small town.

One day, perched high in the branches of a banyan tree, Kalu chooses a leaf, rolls it tightly, and as he’s done for as long as he can remember, blows through it. His pure, simple notes dance through the air and attract a traveling healer, whose interest will change Kalu’s life forever, setting him on a path he would never have dreamt possible and testing his belief in himself and his sense of identity.

Rich in texture and atmosphere, Dancing to the Flute is a heartwarming story of a community’s joys and sorrows, the transformative powers of music, the many faces of friendship, and a boy’s journey, against all odds, to become a man.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451672053 | 
  • February 2013
List Price $17.99 (price may vary by retailer)


To download a file to your computer right-click on the link and choose 'save file as'

High Resolution Images

Any use of an author photo must include its respective photo credit

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Dancing to the Flute includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Manisha Jolie Amin. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Kalu, a homeless orphan, survives on odd jobs. in the quiet rural indian village, Kalu has made a home for himself, and also made friends: Bal, a bonded laborer who herds buffalo, and Malti, a servant, who lives at her mistress Ganga Ba’s home. Kalu’s life is forever altered when a vaid, a traveling healer, passes through the small town and overhears the boy producing pure, simple notes from a rolled banyan leaf. impressed by Kalu’s talent and passion for music, the vaid proposes an apprenticeship with his brother, Guruji, a famous musician.  

Kalu and his young friends grow up apart from one another, yet still connected by bonds of deep affection. When Malti’s arranged marriage reaches a crisis point, and Bal’s struggle to find freedom and independence leads to tragic consequences, Kalu questions his beliefs regarding life and music. he travels the world playing his flute in search of peace and understanding, and only when he finds the right harmony in see more

About the Author

Manisha Jolie Amin
Photograph by Maylei Hunt

Manisha Jolie Amin

Manisha Jolie Amin was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Though her family immigrated to Australia when she was a young girl, she grew up listening to her mother tell her and her sister mythical tales about India while her father played the Indian flute. Today, she lives in Sydney, Australia.