The Americans- Book Review

Chitra Viraraghavan is new to me, as far as Indian writers go. But it is a good read about something that I know something about- America. The best thing about it is that it treads ground that is not trodden by many Indians writing about the U.S. of A. Usually, the warts remain hidden from view. Not here, not those of the Indians for whom it is a Mecca, nor of the "great American dreamers".

The only complaint I had as an oldish reader was that the characters are many, and it gets tough to remember who is who. But that's more to do with me, than the book. The many angles used, particularly about other immigrants- blacks, Mexicans, and an Israeli, are dimensions I have not seen in Indian writing before. We are too obsessed with our so-called 'brains' and academic success, I assume. The easy-going nature of Americans comes across in the encounters that the old Indian Maths teacher has with them, during his long stay with his daughter. One lady offers to show him around Chicago (and does), which the daughter never finds time for.

America is shown as a normal place with normal people- criminals (yes, of Indian origin), adulterers (ditto), ungrateful kids who leave their parents in limbo but use them when they can, parents who are quite happy not to be living in the land of dreams (not theirs anyway), American born kids of Indians who just want to fit in. The academic systems of American universities show up as heartless and rule-bound, though one could argue it is much worse here in India.

Utterly believable, and very readable, though it might take a bit longer, if you are my age. Guess my age?


Diamond Head said…
we Americans do not discuss age or aging unless its a new bean or weed that will reverse aging

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