Saturday, 24 August 2013

Kim's Review : Amreekan Desi - Masters of America

Obviously with a title like "Amreekan desi" and a glance through the contents, the comparison with "the Inscrutable Americans" would be inevitable. However, Atulya Mahajan's - Amreekan Desi, does manage to hold its own, quite easily.

Atulya is next in the line of well followed bloggers and twitterers to be able to get his book published by a large house and out in circulation. So it isn't a complete surprise to learn from credits that Sidin and Arnab helped him with the publishing process.

The Readers Cosmos along with Good Reads, sent me this book to be reviewed. I wasn't expecting to love the book, I thought it would be a good distraction, a light humorous book after the heavy reading about the War of the Roses.

The Amreekan Desi - Masters of America did tick these boxes for me, but it was also a very well researched, nuanced book with a keen understanding of people and their perspectives formed through experiences. Atulya Mahajan has delved behind personalities and given a depth to his characters through these insights.

Having lived in the US for awhile, I did come across plenty of Akhil Aroras and Jassis in various degrees. So I know that these characters aren't caricatures, nor are they figments of the authors imagination. A large percentage of Indians, visiting the US for further studies (mostly MS) fall somewhere on the scale between Akhil Arora and Jassi.

Its not just these 2 characters, but also the rest of the cast who are quite well fleshed out for a short novel. Mr Arora, Priyank, Goyal Uncle, Dilpreet, Nandita, Kedar, Anil, Priya, Sundar, Suresh and the others. Not all of them have backstories attached, but with just a few lines of presence, its quite easy to identify the character behind the person.

The language is simple and easy to comprehend and the story is a human story. Its not high brow literature but its not bus station book stall fodder either.

Amreekan Desi is in essence a tale of discovery and an adventure. Akhil and Jassi start at 2 different ends of the spectrum in their attitude towards going to America and what they want to accomplish by this move. Yet situations and perspectives change and while Akhils life seems all sorted out by the end of the book, the reader can believe that Jassi's life will also have a happy ending of its own.

The part of the book I loved best was Akhils interation with the janitor and his conversation with his mother over Diwali rituals. I almost snorted out the coffee I was drinking when I read that bit.

Its a well written book and anyone who has been to the US or plans to visit the US for studies will absolutely love the book and the characters. Even if you do not even have a passport of your own, you can still enjoy the book, because at the end of the day its an interesting story inhabited by characters that any Indian can identify with. Americans who wonder why Indians in America behave the way they do could also glean a glimmer of insight by reading American Desi.

Rating : 3.75 / 5

This Review is a part of "The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program". To get free books visit

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