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August 25, 2013 / subramanyam

Amreekan Desi— A good book by Atulya Mahajan


          In the final year of my graduation  I saw a lot of my friends reading Barron’s GRE guides, running around institutes for GRE coaching, using new new words (in the daily conversations), applying for colleges and taking recommendation letters. (I think this would be the case with many people today, more particularly in the case of engineering grads ) Well, thanks to FB I saw a lot of  them posting pics of their colleges and their road trips in a year or so after the graduation. I always used to feel like you know, this fellow is having a gala time in the US. However, as I never travelled to the US, I have little knowledge on how things shape up for these ambitious guys as they leave the shores of India and land in the “land of opportunity” the United States of America. We rarely see them returning to India,  and even when they come back,  nostalgia eats away a lot of the conversation. Isn’t it ?

          So in reality we know little about the life of our desi students in the US, the troubles,travails and the struggles they goAmreekandesi-Front-Cover1-671x1024 through, the cultural shock they face, the hard realities life teaches to them, the way the education system moulds them and makes them work hard and harder, the way they enjoy their lives and their trips, the way they get smitten by love, the way they search for jobs  etc.. are rarely known to us.

          In his debut novel “Amreekan Desi” Atulya Mahajan takes through all these things.  In those 308 pages he covers almost every aspect of a Desi student’s life in the US.  Right from the flight that takes them off from the Indian shores to the graduation day ceremony he covers almost all facets of a desi student’s life in the US.

          Akhil Aurora and Jaspreet Singh, two young Indian boys leave to the US to complete their masters, while Akhil is on a mission to prove himself , earn good amount of money and return  to India, Jassi wants to radically  Americanize himself. I used the word radical for Jessi because one of his aims in going to the US is having an American girl as his wife and living through a few(?) bay watch moments for himself. Both the boys end up in Florida State University to pursue their masters and even end up being roommates. How do they go on with their courses?  Will both the boys be successful in their pursuits? What does the land of opportunity have in store for each of them forms the crux of the book. 

          Then the book also speaks about the Indian community in the campus and how they help out the new joinees, one cannot but appreciate the likes of Dilpreet, Ruksh and Sundar who go out of their way to help the new lads.   Then we have the second generation Indian Americans (sarcastically referred to as ABCD’s), the book speaks about the various issues they encounter and the troubles they have in their lives.   As the story revolves around college and studies and as we have a desi boy as a protagonist, we get to see a lot of girls in the story. What’s good here is the fact  that the female characters actually bring the major twists in the plot while the male characters more or less just respond to the change and take corrective action. Again each of the female characters in the story represent a culture or a value system, you hate some of them, love some of them and empathise with a few of them. but you might hardly forget anyone of them.   I liked the way the author handled it.   Kudos to the author on a  job  well done. 

          The book also challenges some of the myths and some misconceptions that we have regarding America. I thank the author for dispelling some of the myths I harbored.  I also liked the way Jassi’s story was handled. I would give the author a perfect 10 on that . See, that lad goes to the US with some false hopes, refuses to accept the reality there, has real tough times but he still seeks what he wants, the way he undergoes the metamorphosis and the way life rewards him in the end are too good.  Normally authors do a very god job with the protagonist but handling the second best character also that way was awesome. I loved it.

          I can hardly speak about any areas of improvement when it comes to this book, I almost liked each and every page as I was reading it. The pace of the book was good and it will make the reader finish the book quickly.  The descriptions of FSU are also good with vivid imagery,  I liked it.

          The only glitch I felt was the way Akhil makes his love story successful, I felt while most of the book was looking realistic, the only part that makes us feel “this kind of stuff happens only in stories” is the part where Akhil wins over everyone to make his love successful. Interesting read, but it might sound slightly filmy for a few people.

          Well forgot to mention, you will see that humor is also very well waved into the book. You find not just a few,  but many things that would make you pause and smile/laugh.

          All said and done, fantastic book dear friends. I strongly recommend that people read this book. While you would enjoy reading it,  you would pick a fact or two about US and the studies there.

Happy Reading

This book review is a part of “The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program”. To get free books log on tothereaderscosmos.blogspot.com.

 

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One Comment

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  1. amreekandesi / Aug 25 2013 2:21 pm

    Thanks for the comprehensive review. Glad you liked the book 🙂

    Like

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