Friday, August 7, 2009

Royal Enfield mentioned in bestsellers

There are intriguing references to Royal Enfield motorcycles in bestselling books of almost all sorts, from travelogues to science fiction. To my surprise, these references are easy to find, and you can even read them online if they happen to have been captured by Amazon's excerpt feature. For instance, this one, from John Irving's novel The Imaginary Girlfriend:

"I had just turned 23 when Colin was born. It was late March, which is not Spring in New Hampshire. I remember driving my motorcycle home from the hospital. (A friend had driven Shyla to the hospital, because I'd been in class--Tom Williams's Creative Writing class.) I remember watching out for the patches of ice and snow that were still evident on the roads; I drove home very slowly, put the motorcycle in the garage, and never drove it again--I would sell it that summer. It was a 750cc Royal Enfield, black and chrome, with a customized tomato-red gastank the shape of a teardrop--I would never miss it. I was a father; fathers didn't drive motorcycles."

To find these, go to Amazon and search for "Royal Enfield" by "Bestselling". You'll see an "Excerpt" link on each book's listing. Click that.

Here are the 10 bestselling books with references to Royal Enfield, as listed by Amazon, with a fragment of the reference to Royal Enfield:

1. Cutting for Stone: A novel by Abraham Verghese
Excerpt - page 13: "... thirty one Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycles the engines wrapped in oilcloth The ship meant ..."

2. Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson
Excerpt - Front Matter: "... at house where he had parked his vintage Royal Enfield motorcycle next to late model Harley Chatterton was a commercial ..."

3. The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith
Excerpt - page 183: "... I got hold of a very nice hired bike A Royal Enfield Bullet 650cc Made in Madras I went up to the ..."

4. The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance by Mark Zimmerman
Excerpt - page 98: "... Primary Oil Changes Outside of Harley-Davidson and India (Royal) Enfields, not too many current motorcycles have a primary chain case. ..."

5. The Cure for Alcoholism: Drink Your Way Sober Without Willpower, Abstinence or Discomfort by Roy Eskapa PhD and David Sinclair PhD
Excerpt - Front Matter: "... a fellow in Dharamsala who would rent him an old Royal Enfield motorbike. With the book stored on a USB memory stick ..."

6. Webster's New World Thesaurus by Charlton Laird, Staff of Webster's New World Dictionary, and Michael E. Agnes Excerpt - page 514: "... Cimatti, Vespa, Ducati, Garelli, Lambretta, Matchless, Norton, Indian, Volocette, Jawa, Royal Enfield, Bridgestone, Maico, Hodaka. motorist, n. - Syn. driver, traveler, tourist, ..."

7. The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel by Michael Chabon
Excerpt - page 272: "... like that. At first glance, it is a stock 1961 Royal Enfield Crusader, gunmetal gray in the sunlight, its stunning chromium trim ..."

8. Pirate: A Thriller (Hawke) by Ted Bell
Excerpt - page 355: "... " Hawke said, eyeing the Royal Enfield motorcycle parked by the side of the building. It was ..."

9. Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, 5th: Worldwide Motorcycling Route & Planning Guide (Trailblazer) by Chris Scott
Excerpt - page 21: "... fixed everywhere, brakes Derived from the forty-year-old casts and dies Royal Enfield left behind, Indian Enfields have been going ever since. ..."

10. A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
Excerpt - page 176: "... Mr Biswas became annoyed. Once a week he rode his Royal Enfield bicycle to Hanuman House to see Savi. ..."

Happy reading!


  1. And as you mentioned before, Irving's "Setting free the Bears" also mentions Royal Enfield. Irving was a motorcycle rider. I wonder if he owned a Royal Enfield?

  2. You missed my favorite in your paraphrase from the Adventure Motorcycling handbook. In the 'plusses and minuses' section it says:
    Riders Like - Can be fixed anywhere
    Don't Like - Needs to be fixed everywhere

    Somewhere else I saw the RE described as "Always sick, never terminal"


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