No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal

No One Can Pronounce My Name

A Humorous And Tender Multigenerational Novel About Immigrants And Outsiders—Those Trying To Find Their Place In American Society And Within Their Own Families.In a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian Americans has settled into lives that straddle the divide between Eastern and Western cultures. For some, America is a bewildering and alienating place where cowo...

Title:No One Can Pronounce My Name
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1250112117
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:384 pages

No One Can Pronounce My Name Reviews

  • Larry H

    Rakesh Satyal's second novel,

    , is a patchwork quilt of a book, where different but related threads come together into a gorgeous masterpiece. I read the entire book on a flight to the West Coast, and was dazzled not only by Satyal's beautiful prose, but the amazing amount of heart and joy he brought to his book.

    Ranjana has just sent her only child off to college, and she wonders what she has to look forward to now. She's starting to suspect that her husband is havi

    Rakesh Satyal's second novel,

    , is a patchwork quilt of a book, where different but related threads come together into a gorgeous masterpiece. I read the entire book on a flight to the West Coast, and was dazzled not only by Satyal's beautiful prose, but the amazing amount of heart and joy he brought to his book.

    Ranjana has just sent her only child off to college, and she wonders what she has to look forward to now. She's starting to suspect that her husband is having an affair, and she finds herself seeking solace in food. The only thing that truly gives her pleasure is the time she spends each night writing paranormal romance stories, but as much joy as they bring her, she's even too embarrassed to share the stories with the members of her writers' group!

    Harit decided a long time ago he'd never be the type of man to marry and have the life everyone expects men to, and perhaps he was destined to be alone. After the sudden death of his beloved sister Swati, he and his elderly mother are consumed by grief. He begins dressing up in Swati's sari each night and pretending he is his sister, in an effort to help his nearly-blind mother find some comfort. The only time he leaves the house is to go to his job at a department store every day, and it is only through the efforts of his flamboyant coworker and friend, Teddy, that he even finds the strength to go out for a drink every now and again. (He doesn't actually find the strength at first; Teddy browbeats him into it.)

    A series of events leads to Ranjana and Harit meeting in an unlikely place, and the two quickly strike up a friendship that surprises them both. Not only does Ranjana feel appreciated, needed, cared about, but she feels as if she is helping Harit in some way. And Harit feels that their friendship has finally allowed him to come to terms with so many things he has kept bottled up for so long, and perhaps realize that he is a special person and is worthy of being loved for who he is.

    Friendship can be one of the most incredible gifts people give one another, not only for the companionship and confidences shared, but friendship often empowers people to feel they should pursue their dreams, and know that they have supporters behind them. To watch Ranjana and Harit both blossom under the light of their friendship, and realize the value of those around them where they had almost taken them for granted before is a beautiful thing, and one of the pieces I loved about this book.

    While I've presented this as a fairly simple story, in Satyal's hands it has such depth, humor, emotion, and complexity that readers should discover for themselves. There is such nuance in his storytelling, and you can feel the love he has for his characters, even when they're acting in less-appealing ways.

    I love books that surprise you, not necessarily with plot twists, but the way the author lets the book unfold, and pulls you in until you want nothing more than to spend more time with the characters, in the midst of the story they have created. That was the way I felt while reading

    . I felt as if I were a witness to all that occurred as a result of Ranjana and Harit's friendship, but more importantly, I felt lucky that Satyal took me on this journey. I felt his heart in this book alongside those of his characters.

    The author and Picador Publishing provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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  • Rachel León

    My expectations were exceptionally high for this book, which I've been impatiently waiting for since January. Satyal is a gifted writer and this book is great. I reviewed it for CHIRB and you can read the full review here:

  • Dianne

    This was a book written so beautifully, so lyrically that it was as if the words had been painted on canvas instead of merely typed onto paper.

    Why only two stars then? And why did I not finish this book even though I had read 75% of it?

    Because even with all of its beauty the story was slow, the commentary about American's was horrid, the character's thought they were above it all and I wasn't interested in the sex lives of these people.

    In fact I never once felt connected enough with any of thes

    This was a book written so beautifully, so lyrically that it was as if the words had been painted on canvas instead of merely typed onto paper.

    Why only two stars then? And why did I not finish this book even though I had read 75% of it?

    Because even with all of its beauty the story was slow, the commentary about American's was horrid, the character's thought they were above it all and I wasn't interested in the sex lives of these people.

    In fact I never once felt connected enough with any of these characters/caricature's.

    I could say much about what this story was *supposed* to be all about (friendship, relationships, questioning ones sexuality), but quite frankly I was only able to decipher the surface story and that was enough for me.

    Perhaps If I were a better educated person I could have gotten more out of this book.

  • Lorilin

    is the story of a group of Indian immigrants living in Cleveland, Ohio. Forty-something Harit is lonely and depressed after the death of his beloved older sister. He's doing his best to adequately care for his old and grief-stricken mother, but he's struggling. To get out of the house, Harit begins working in the men's department of a local clothing store, and, luckily, he finally finds a friend in Teddy, his odd but affable gay coworker.

    Not too far away, in another

    is the story of a group of Indian immigrants living in Cleveland, Ohio. Forty-something Harit is lonely and depressed after the death of his beloved older sister. He's doing his best to adequately care for his old and grief-stricken mother, but he's struggling. To get out of the house, Harit begins working in the men's department of a local clothing store, and, luckily, he finally finds a friend in Teddy, his odd but affable gay coworker.

    Not too far away, in another struggling household, Ranjana has just sent her only child, Prashant, off to college. Prashant is a mostly devoted son and top of his class in chemistry, but love (or is it lust?) has him rethinking his life goals and direction. Not that Ranjana is noticing. She's too concerned with her own general boredom in life and, especially, in her marriage. (Finding out that her husband is probably cheating on her certainly doesn't help things.) Ranjana's dissatisfaction eventually motivates her to find a job working as a receptionist at a medical office. It's through this job, and a series of crazy, seemingly unrelated events, that she finally meets Harit.

    If you think you know where this book is going, I can assure you that you don't. This storyline is unique, fresh, and unpredictable. I may have seen certain plot points coming, but only after having been surprised a few times first. The characters are intriguing, too. Both Harit and Ranjana are easy to empathize with, but they are also quirky and imperfect. I felt invested in their journeys from the (almost) start.

    So why only three stars? Well, this book is tough to get into and tough to complete. At almost 400 pages, it's about twice as long as it should be. Yes, the premise is great, the characters great. But dear God, it goes on forever. (Ranjana and Harit don't even MEET each other until the last third of the book. That is A LOT of build up, my friends.) I'm a fast reader, especially when it comes to fiction, but reading this one, especially in the beginning, was damn near torturous.

    Honestly, I wish I could give this book more stars! It has so much good stuff going for it, but it really needed to be cut down by at least a third. I wish the story had been tighter and more concise without all the thought-by-thought commentary from so many different characters.

    Thanks to Net Galley and Picador for the ARC.

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  • Liz

    Please read more of my reviews at:

    Rakesh Satyal pulled me in to his new novel,

    , even though I didn't like any of his characters at first reading. Harit and Ranjana hold the novel together. Their families and friends circle them in the dance of life as immigrants who are looking for meaning and happiness but have no confidence that those gifts will ever find them in Cleveland, Ohio. Harit is a single forty something man who works in

    Please read more of my reviews at:

    Rakesh Satyal pulled me in to his new novel,

    , even though I didn't like any of his characters at first reading. Harit and Ranjana hold the novel together. Their families and friends circle them in the dance of life as immigrants who are looking for meaning and happiness but have no confidence that those gifts will ever find them in Cleveland, Ohio. Harit is a single forty something man who works in a department store. He lives with his mother and they are both grieving the loss of his sister, Swarti. Ranjana is also a forty something immigrant who is married to a chemistry professor with a son at Princeton. She has served her husband, Mohan, as a dutiful wife and given her life to raising her son, Prashant. The family doesn't seem to really connect and when Prashant goes away to Princeton, Ranjana turns to a job in a doctor's office for a way to fill up her time. Ranjana is a writer, in secret, of "romance" novels and she dutifully attends her writers' group though it seems that it is mostly a waste of time.

    There is much heartbreak in this story. The loneliness of life as an immigrant is striking, even when a family such as Ranjana and Mohan have a circle of Indian friends and attend all the social functions required to maintain membership in that group. Harit is totally alone except for a work colleague, Teddy, who drags him to a local TGIF Friday's for drinks. He goes home to his mourning mother who sits alone. Harit has many secrets that weigh him down and even Teddy's boisterous and seemingly well meaning camaraderie cannot help Harit lift himself from a state of hopelessness.

    The immigrant experience has been well documented in the news and in the arts. This novel adds to that body of work that helps us who are generations removed from our immigrant ancestors catch a glimpse into what huge sacrifices immigrants, especially those from the culture of India, live with from day to day and on into their lives in the new country they have chosen. Often those choices are made for the children...let the children have a better life. It is for the children that the adults move to the other side of the planet and strive to create a new life, living quietly with the disappointments they feel cannot be overcome. Thanks to RS's incredible writing skills, we get a glimmer of hope for those who dare to chance a connection with someone. Not all life has to be lived in quiet misery. The brave ones who can reach out to just one person may find a new life unfolding in soul saving events.

    ARC received courtesy of NetGalley and Picador (May 2nd 2017).

  • helen the bookowl

    This story is about cultural clashes and how it can be difficult to fit into a new world and feel at ease there. Alone all the nuances of the new language can confuse you and make you feel somewhat ignorant and stupid.

    Ranjana, Harit and Prashant are some of the Indians in this story who have all moved to America several years ago, but who are all still trying to fit in completely with this new society. What this book does really well is to give you a rare insight into what it's like to be an im

    This story is about cultural clashes and how it can be difficult to fit into a new world and feel at ease there. Alone all the nuances of the new language can confuse you and make you feel somewhat ignorant and stupid.

    Ranjana, Harit and Prashant are some of the Indians in this story who have all moved to America several years ago, but who are all still trying to fit in completely with this new society. What this book does really well is to give you a rare insight into what it's like to be an immigrant and learn a new language. At one point, one character asks "Fancy a drink?", and Harit is left bewildered because according to his limited knowledge, 'fancy' means to really like someone.

    I found aspects of this novel really interesting, but simultaneously I found myself spending a lot of time getting through it. Not because it was difficult to read, but because I was more interested in other books and didn't always have the motivation to pick up this one. That being said, this is a good and enlightening story that definitely caught my attention all in all, and I find it important because of its rare and unique insight into the theme of cultural clashes.

  • Jessica Woodbury

    The descriptions of this book made it sound rather jaunty, and I can see how that is the case. But I personally had a very specific experience with this book and the connection was so deep that I stayed in this strong emotional state the whole time I read it. So jaunty? Sure, perhaps, but my experience was something else.

    This book is so tender, so generous towards its characters, that I was filled with empathy for them. Especially Harit, a man living with his mother, who is similar to that midd

    The descriptions of this book made it sound rather jaunty, and I can see how that is the case. But I personally had a very specific experience with this book and the connection was so deep that I stayed in this strong emotional state the whole time I read it. So jaunty? Sure, perhaps, but my experience was something else.

    This book is so tender, so generous towards its characters, that I was filled with empathy for them. Especially Harit, a man living with his mother, who is similar to that middle-aged sad sack type despite his immigrant status. I have read books with characters like Harit. Sometimes they are there for laughs or pity, but Satyal simply wants to present Harit to us as a full person. The way Harit and other characters who would normally be played for laughs or to fill a stereotype are able to flourish in these pages speaks to just how good Satyal is.

    The novel is concerned with the Indian immigrant experience, but it does have a nimble way of bringing you into each character's story that keeps it from feeling bogged down. The central characters of this book--the aforementioned Harit, and Ranjana, another immigrant whose only son has just gone off to college--are going through times of transition. Though they are adults who have lived in America for many years, they don't find connection through their communities, mostly made of Indian immigrants like themselves. Their search for connection and purpose goes in unexpected directions. But, as I've mentioned, this is more of a jaunty book of discovery than a meditative consideration of the meaning of life. There is much humor here and I was hooked from the first few pages.

    As a side note, Ranjana's son, Prashant, who has just gone to Princeton is another large character in the book and I couldn't help but compare this book to MRS. FLETCHER, Tom Perrotta's book out this summer also about a mother and son dealing with the son going off to college. There are definite similarities, but both Ranjana and Prashant were written more respectfully and more deeply. It turns out I found this book far more compelling in its portrait even though both mothers and both sons have similar limitations of perspective and insight sometimes. I really do think it comes down to the way Satyal cares about his characters. This doesn't feel like an anthropological study or a snide examination, it feels honest

    There are several queer characters in this book presented both in and out of stereotypes, some of them taking you by surprise, and I enjoyed how Satyal let us slowly explore their sexuality and identity.

  • Natelle Woodworth

    This just wasn't my cup of tea....

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