Title: The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Publisher: William Morrow
Paperback: 432 pages
Content Rating: PG-13 (For scenes of domestic violence and abuse)
The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter returns with an unforgettable story of family, responsibility, love, honor, tradition, and identity, in which two childhood friends—a young doctor and a newly married bride—must balance the expectations of their culture and their families with the desires of their own hearts.
The first of his family to go to college, Anil Patel, the golden son, carries the weight of tradition and his family’s expectations when he leaves his tiny Indian village to begin a medical residency in Dallas, Texas, at one of the busiest and most competitive hospitals in America. When his father dies, Anil becomes the de facto head of the Patel household and inherits the mantle of arbiter for all of the village’s disputes. But he is uneasy with the custom, uncertain that he has the wisdom and courage demonstrated by his father and grandfather. His doubts are compounded by the difficulties he discovers in adjusting to a new culture and a new job, challenges that will shake his confidence in himself and his abilities.
Back home in India, Anil’s closest childhood friend, Leena, struggles to adapt to her demanding new husband and relatives. Arranged by her parents, the marriage shatters Leena’s romantic hopes, and eventually forces her to make a desperate choice that will hold drastic repercussions for herself and her family. Though Anil and Leena struggle to come to terms with their identities thousands of miles apart, their lives eventually intersect once more—changing them both and the people they love forever.
Tender and bittersweet, The Golden Son illuminates the ambivalence of people caught between past and present, tradition and modernity, duty and choice; the push and pull of living in two cultures, and the painful decisions we must make to find our true selves.
The novel is the story of Anil Patel, the elder son of a respected family in a village of India, who decides to become a doctor and pursue his medical residency in Dallas, Texas at one of the best known hospitals in America. Anil experiences immigrant issues--new culture and attitudes, prejudice, modernized lifestyle and the wonder of modern medicine. He learns some tough lessons all while juggling the traditions of his own culture and family.
This is also the story of Leena, a close childhood friend of Anil who lives in Anil's village in India and who eventually gets married and experiences abuse at the hand of her husband's family. At some point Anil and Leena's life reconnect and their life lessons will combine to bring about positive change and healing for both their families.
I simply loved how the author was able to seamlessly intertwine the Indian and American cultures and the struggle to find one's identity when part of both cultures. The lush descriptions of the Indian village and farmlands, its people and their lives shone through as equally as did the adrenaline rush of the exhilarating but exhaustive medical residency in a big hospital of a modern metropolis.
It is evident that Gowda understood and researched both settings and cultures well. The unspoken but understood ways of doing things in the small Indian village, especially when it came to arranged marriages and dowries versus the medical jargon and competitive nature of the residency were clear evidence of her extensive research. It is these subtle but powerful bits of information that makes this novel so good, so satisfying to read, and such a pleasure for info junkies like me. I love learning new things as I read.
Well-written, evocative, emotional and exotic, The Golden Son is the second book from Gowda that will once again capture not only readers who loved her first book, but anyone who loves to read literary fiction rich in culture and characterization. This book has made it to my Best Reads of 2016 list.
Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.
Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.
Find out more about Shilpi at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.