Rakesh Satyal | Fiction
This is the Deschutes County Library 2018 community read. And so I really WANT to give it four hearts, but it doesn't quite slide into that category for me. No One Can Pronounce My Name is the story of Indian-Americans living in Cleveland. Some lived in India earlier in their lives; some were born here, all identified as Indian. This was their story about how they maintain their culture (my mouth often watered as many social events were held around homemade pakoras and samosas); how they integrate; how they assimilate; how they befriend one another; how they deal with traditions and values and norms both American and Indian; what they gain and lose when they do assimilate.
It is not a heavy read … you will laugh and cry sometimes. The main characters are in their 20s, 30s and 40s. They are gay, straight and questioning. They desperately want friendships and intimacy, and don’t always find the vehicles to create meaningful relationships. Their jobs and passions differ, and the overlap of the circumstances of their lives happen by coincidence, a chance, sharing a workplace or a moment in a bar with an unlikely other.
I learned something about the challenges of building a new social structure. I chose three stars because I found the writing confusing at times and that made it a little less engaging than I had hoped.
If you live in Deschutes County, read this and go the workshops that are sponsored by the library and hit Bend High to hear the author speak. If you are not local, yes, I still recommend it, just not with my full heart and enthusiasm. It’s worth a peruse as you make your own decision.