☆☆☆☆☆5 out of 5 stars.
Fascinating tales of a childhood in India as told by a grandfather, Shankar, to his American grandchildren. The stories weave together as Shankar reviews his life choices, the traditions and beliefs that shaped him, and the family conflict underlying his adulthood. I was immediately drawn in to the novel through the characters, the settings (India and the East Coast U.S.), and the conflicts: father-son, coming of age, caste norms, marriage, loss, identity in a global world, assimilation, sacrifice, rejection, and inner turmoil as Shankar works to come to terms with his life.
Each tale is a well-developed story in its own right, and each helps to push the plot forward while giving the reader a deeper understanding of the underlying conflicts, culture, changing socio-political mores, and choices the protagonist makes. The tales are delicate, intricately described, and often humorous, illuminating a lesson learned or a heart-wrenching slice-of-life look into a conflicted past, a childhood memory, an immigrant’s struggles or triumphs, a career, a marriage. Shankar is a deeply developed character, and the supporting characters are also well developed with their own needs, interests, and personalities coming to life.
The novel is well-paced, each tale provoking memories that drive the protagonist’s inner conflict and raising questions that keep the reader turning pages. The story moves along, yet there is time for reflection on the universal truths revealed.
The descriptions are easy to visualize, the imagery is delicate, the themes are profound. I enjoyed and recommend this important and uplifting novel.