Manik Mudigonda was born into (and subsequently rejected from) a highly scrupulous Brahmin family in India’s holiest city, Benares. Now, in the heady days leading up to World War I, he is a lonely colonial solicitor in Mombasa, Kenya’s most multicultural, metropolitan city.
He possesses numerous physical deformities, including severe, patchy depigmentation all over his body, one bright red eye, a wiry shock of waist-length white hair, and hundreds of smallpox scars. He’s a complete outsider with limited coping mechanisms, and he finds comfort in primarily destructive ways—alcoholism, bulimia, and committing adultery with married women. Manik, it is safe to say, is not your typical Casanova.
Yet despite it all, his greatest joy is making women happy, and he falls deeply in love, again and again. Manik suffers without end, convinced that he is utterly unable to find someone to truly love him in return.
Memories of a Mombasa Gigolo is a complex character study written in journal style that not only provides a rich picture of cosmopolitan British colonial Africa in the early 1900s, but also explores the most intimate realm of human emotion and sexuality while painting a portrait of one of the earliest and most fascinating melting-pot cities.