February 27, 2016

Praise for From the Ganges to the Snake River

Praise for From the Ganges to the Snake River

A fascinating look at the Inter-mountain West and its people

In this eclectic collection of personal essays, Debu Majumdar gives a tender, often amusing account of a stranger in a strange land. With each piece I found myself laughing out loud and curious to read more. . . Majumdar brings an outsider’s perspective to this country, but his writing is neither judgmental nor heavy-handed. In fact, it is the simplicity of his observations that make this comfortable to read . . . and he recognizes the value of this lonely place called Idaho, for he has found friends and belonging here.

–Dawn Anderson, Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho.

Writing in first person, Majumdar tells of serene Idaho–a place far from his native India . . . examining the landscape through an outsider’s eyes and reflecting on his experiences from India. …”From Ganges to the Snake River” may awaken memories in the reader, leading him or her to realize how the world changes but some things remain constant. . .

–David Eggert, Idaho Falls Post Register

The continuous interweaving of the Indian culture with North American reality, the intelligent shuttle between past and present, meticulously observed details of everyday life, penetrating dialogue, a human warmth and a love of nature are but a few features of Majumdar’s literary work. So much sincerity is hard to find in the troubled times of commercialized modern literature.

–Leon Torossian, Editor, Echo, Vienna, Austria

Majumdar’s wittily agile and empathic perceptions embrace a true internationalist’s view of two vastly different worlds. His profound insights and experiences in India and Idaho bring these worlds together with spirit and clarity. The grand sweep of mythology, history, and modern life of the Ganges and Snake Rivers is brought into the reader’s mind and heart with the vivid and finely nuanced accounts of this gifted writer.

–Carl Eberl, Professor Emeritus, City University of New York

Debu Majumdar’s book of essays, From the Ganges to the Snake River, throws two vastly different ways of life into fascinating juxtaposition. . . . Though he has been an American citizen for nigh to thirty years he can no more escape his origins than can you or I. Fortunately for all of us he is a gentle man who is able to tell truth and without drawing blood. Humorous, serious, thought provoking, enriching. Buy this book and read it.

–Kenneth H. Marler author of Sometime This Summer

From The Ganges To The Snake River: An East Indian In The American West is an engaging, thought-provoking collection of essays written over a period of twenty years in which Debu Majumdar (who was born and raised on the banks of India’s Ganges River) wrote while living in Idaho Falls, Idaho during the 1980s and 1990s. The essays cover everything from Mormon missionaries and Native Americas to fishing and horses. Highly recommended and totally engaging, these cultural essays include: First Idaho Winter; Idaho Trout; Fourth of July; Tiger Hunt; Hunting; Mountain River Ranch; The Missionaries; Be Crazy About; An Excursion on the River; Pollywog Pond; The Poets’ Club; A Place to Hang Your Hats; Oh Calcutta; At the Windcave; The Ramayana; and Indians Across the Ocean

–Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

Debu’s journey brings together many opposites: east and west, thoughts of adults on the young, old country — new country, Hinduism — Christianity, tradition and modernity. His odyssey takes him from an ancient land to a new one; sacred rivers flow through each, he creates himself anew as he moves between cultures. It is a voyage of discovery, but not just of places and environments and new friends and colleagues; there is an inner voyage that takes place too. In this kind of journey — which takes place over decades, on several continents — although most of these stories are set in Idaho in the last 20 years — there is ample room for reflection, and doubt and crises of identity. Do I belong to one culture? Or another? Or does that question even have meaning any more? Not least of the gifts of this book is that as Debu ponders the changes that have come about in himself, among his fellow Indians who have come to the United States, and in everyone who has come to the American West, he sees himself in new ways, and we see ourselves in a new light too. That is a valuable gift.

–Kenneth W. Meyer (Peshawar, Pakistan)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The author is an excellent observer of nature, and Idaho seems to be a beautiful part of the country with rivers and mountains and no pressures of population. The stories, which are autobiographical reminiscences, anecdotes, and thoughtful observations, are written in a frank, uncomplicated style and make a pleasant reading. Residents of Idaho would certainly enjoy them more for the local color, but for those who don’t know Idaho, the book might provide an incentive to visit the Snake River area.

Description of life in Calcutta, wonderfully depicting the sights, sounds and smells of the region, and some personal histories I found enjoyable, in particular the stories Oh, Calcutta, The Ramayana, and At the Windcave. In the last story, the author beautifully brings out the frustrations of an ambitious research scientist and compares his life with that of a relaxed scientific worker with interests outside the narrow limits of his specialty.

In one story, the author expresses himself on the topic of foreignness and feeling like an outsider. In these days of globalization, he suggests that a new educated class has emerged in the world, which has gone beyond regional boundaries and finds more commonality among themselves than among close neighbors. It is not the land that makes one feel foreign. It’s not a place but something within oneself, an inborn thing.

The book is a real praise of Idaho and the reader can get easily absorbed. Those who don’t know Idaho will also find something that they will appreciate and enjoy as I did.

–S. Sanatani (Vienna, Austria)

Mark Twain may just have been proven wrong. Not only do the East and West meet in Debu Majumdar’s thoughtful work, they are given interesting and delightful perspectives. As a person knowledgeable about life in Asia as well as American society, I found the work to be difficult to put down once I started. Majumdar recalls his early life in India’s Bengal province and compares and contrasts it to his life in Idaho. These range from his encounters with Mormon missionaries to encountering trout fishes. Great reading!

–Anirban Pal (Washington DC, USA)

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