Monday, June 26, 2017

No one can pronounce my name by Rakesh Satyal

5 Star

In a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian Americans has settled into lives that straddle the divide between Eastern and Western cultures. For some, America is a bewildering and alienating place where coworkers can’t pronounce your name but will eagerly repeat the Sanskrit phrases from their yoga class. Harit, a lonely Indian immigrant in his midforties, lives with his mother who can no longer function after the death of Harit’s sister, Swati. In a misguided attempt to keep both himself and his mother sane, Harit has taken to dressing up in a sari every night to pass himself off as his sister. Meanwhile, Ranjana, also an Indian immigrant in her midforties, has just seen her only child, Prashant, off to college. Worried that her husband has begun an affair, she seeks solace by writing paranormal romances in secret. When Harit and Ranjana’s paths cross, they begin a strange yet necessary friendship that brings to light their own passions and fears.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I have always loved books set in India and I also love books about the immigrant experience as I find both so rich and compelling, so as this book was about Indians who had immigrated to America, I suspected that I would love it. And I truly did.

The book is incredibly full of detail and each character is developed in such a way that it felt like I was reading about a friend or neighbor. I loved how attached I became to them and how I wanted them to succeed and be happy- these types of connections can make a good book great.

Harit and Ranjana are two very different people but still have ties that bond them and create their friendship. While I was reading about their somewhat unlikely tale, I kept thinking about how the smallest things can bring us together. In their case, their Indian heritage was enough to forge that link.

Harit is living his life, but barely, due to tragedy in his family. A tragedy that irrevocably changed the lives of those he loved and the pain they feel is palpable. It seemed like he was stuck in a vicious cycle of just surviving until he meets Ranjana, who has her own pain to deal with.

This story is complex, with so many threads, that all tie together. A wonderful tale about friendship and love and the human experience that I will not soon forget.

Thank you to Picador for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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