It’s a perfect October morning as I sip my chai tea, bright and cool and colourful, with the touch of a chill in the air, foreshadowing the season to come.
I have one book to tell you about today, The Golden Son by Shilpa Somaya Gowda. The second novel by this Toronto-born author tells the story of a young man who must make difficult decisions as he tries to balance responsibility for his family with his own independence. Anil is the eldest son of a large family in rural India who is expected to run the farm and fill the role of leader of the clan when his father passes away. But his father has always encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor, which leads him to study in Dallas, Texas. There he encounters trials that both discourage and challenge him, in his work and in love. Back home, his childhood friend, Leena, is also facing trials as she tries to fulfill her responsibilities to her family and in her recent marriage. When things become unbearable, she must make a decision that will change her life and the lives of her parents. When Anil’s father dies, he makes a lengthy visit home and tries to work things out with his brothers, who are basically running the home while he is off in America pursuing his own life away from the family. He decides to apply for a further internship in Dallas, and makes no promise either way as to his intentions to return to India. While he continues his work at the hospital in the U.S., he makes infrequent visits home and has the opportunity to catch up on the news of the area. When he learns of Leena’s situation, his long-buried love for this fiercely independent girl resurfaces, and he must decide where his future lies, and with whom. This lengthy novel demonstrates Gowda’s skill as an author. The writing is solid, the story plausible (despite the rather fairytale-ish ending), and the characters varied and realistic. She does a great job of portraying the challenges Anil faces as he deals with cultural reproaches both in India about “American ways” and in the U.S. about his “un-American” origins. There were twists and turns around every corner, and Gowda kept this reader guessing which way the story would go. There was a real sense of family responsibility in this novel, on the part of Leena and her parents, Anil, Anil’s brothers and sister, Piya, and his mother, which we don’t see here in Canada, and it felt as though this book was a window into another culture. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys domestic fiction with a cultural twist - not an amazing read, but definitely solid.
That’s all for today. Get outside and play in the leaves!
Bye for now…Julie