A very frank account of Burbidge’s sexual adventuring, The Boatman, is also a vividly drawn portrait of life in India, full of characters, incidents, anecdotes, adventures and misadventures.
−Traveller Sydney Morning Herald
Its moving afterword describes Burbidge’s return to India last year for the book launch and his attendance at an LGBT pride march there. Burbidge was struck by how strongly the cause of sexual rights had been embraced by other elements of Indian society who also face discrimination from their countrymen.
Crusader Hillis, Australian Book Review
The Boatman charts his awakening: the exhilarating and risky business of negotiating gay subculture in a country where homosexuality is still illegal, along with his eventual coming out to friends and colleagues.
Fiona Capp, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald
Burbidge writes with sensitivity, poignancy, and the suspense of the chase. A remarkable testament to self-discovery and the erotic. You give me India, an India I can understand and appreciate.
Peter Goers, 891 ABC Adelaide
Unexpectedly contemporaneous, while still managing to evoke the ethos of a country in flux– the early profusion of exotica giving way to a more observed understanding of India.
Vikram Phukan, TimeOut Mumbai
Touching, honest, and brave, The Boatman draws us irresistibly into an intense new world. Vivid descriptions and a heady pace never let the reader go.
Dianne Highbridge, author of A Much Younger Man and In the Empire of Dreams
While most urban gay men in 80s India might have fantasized about going to explore their sexuality in the West, Burbidge stumbles upon the reverse journey, which he tells with great honesty. It would have been easier to write an exciting sexy book about a white man’s adventures in India. This book is far more nuanced and is all the more touching for it.
Sandip Roy, Firstpost.com
A charming account of an unspoken side of life in Mumbai in the eighties. Its strength lies in its unique perspective. Instead of coming out to his mother, Burbidge seems to come out to India.
Mahesh Dattani, playwright, director & actor
Burbidge took shocking risks in exploring his homosexuality and found a capacity for the covert that both fascinated and appalled him. Along with his compassionate and respectful depiction of Indian street life and a hunger for discovery, this makes for a memorable read.
Jen Banyard, author of Spider Lies and the Riddle Gully mystery series
For a country that still criminalises homosexuality, The Boatman chronicles its cities that defy the law every night as spaces morph, people emerge and all types of liaisons are made and broken.
Priyanka Kotamraju, The Hindu
Those of us gay men who survived the eighties were all ‘boatmen’. Burbidge’s memoir allows us to remember and wonder.
Jeremy Fisher, author of How to Tell Your Father to Drop Dead and Music From Another Country
For Burbidge, getting away to India allowed him to face who he was. He tells his story with total honesty and educates us in the process.
Amos Lassen, LGBT reviewer, Boston
John Burbidge’s writing is fluid and engaging and written with such honesty rarely seen since Holding the Man.
Terry Larder, OutinPerth