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A sort of curried Scrubs, in which physician/novelist Nigam (The Snake Charmer, 1998) takes us on Grand Rounds through a New York City hospital staffed largely by Indian expatriates.

During his residency, Sonny Seth finds himself faced with weird conditions and even weirder patients every day and is given very little time to think about them. Raised in Arizona, Sonny is of Indian birth, but he never knew his father and seems more at ease with American culture than do many of his (largely Indian) patients. There’s Sonali, for instance, whose husband Nishad became so obsessed with her buttocks that he succumbed to temptation one night and took a bite out of one of them (which became badly infected). There’s the Comatose Patient, who is actually perfectly lucid but pretends to be unconscious to avoid dealing with his wife and mistress (who hate him). And the Transplanted Man, in for kidney dialysis, has over the years exchanged his lungs, corneas, pancreas, heart, and liver for new models. Minister of Health in the Indian government, the Transplanted Man is thought to have a good shot at becoming the next prime minister, but there are financial scandals in his past—and his opponents are making hay of his tendency to travel abroad for medical treatment. One of his regular visitors is the Uriah Heep-ish Sharad Kakkar, a Bollywood matinee idol who wants to enter politics and is trying to wrest an endorsement from the Transplanted Man’s feeble fingers. Sonny grows close to the Transplanted Man, who turns out to have more of a connection with him than he would have guessed. Nigam’s cast of characters is large enough to provide plenty of distraction (a psychotherapist named Dr. Guru; a scientist who may have discovered a cure for insomnia; etc.) but not too numerous to overwhelm.

A good read, with interesting and credible characters working their way through the chaos of modern hospital life.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-688-16819-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2002