A Son of the Circus (1994) is John Irving's eighth published novel. The novel was a return to his first publisher, Random House, under whose imprint Irving's first three novels appeared.
In terms of its setting and cast of characters, the novel seems a significant departure for Irving. Though the setting is Mumbai, India and though the book describes the "Great Blue Nile" circus in detail, the novel has many other storylines. A key narrative thread is the growing human understanding in the main character, Farrokh Daruwalla.
The novel includes a crime-story that links the other plotlines: A series of murders take place in Mumbai and nearby places. When this affects an upper-class club and Daruwalla's "dear boy" - an adopted family member - is threatened, the killings are investigated by a sympathetic criminal inspector who long ago married a girl who had witnessed one of the murders.
Another story line concerns twin brothers who do not know each other at first. One is a famous movie actor starring in the Inspector Dhar series, which are scripted by none other than Dr. Daruwalla. The other is a Jesuit who causes all sorts of confusion when he arrives and annoys others. The twins meet when the Jesuit apprentice leaves his religious ambitions behind.