An impressive, culturally informative, and engaging love story filled with conflicts.

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THE UNEXPECTED DAUGHTER

A romance between a woman from a poor, Southern family and a man from a large, close-knit, Indian immigrant clan sparks a clash that threatens to destroy the lives of three main characters in this debut novel.

Jenny Jenkins and Roshan Desai meet in dental school in Memphis and are simply good friends —until a graduation night celebration sends them into each other’s arms. Unfortunately, Roshan’s mother, Esha, who has a key to her son’s apartment, finds them together the next morning. Staring at Jenny, Esha says to her son, “Roshan, you need to take out the trash.” Jenny and Roshan go their separate ways only to reconnect after a decade, reigniting their passion; family chaos ensues. Each of the three characters has a life-altering back story, pieces of which are revealed along the way. Jenny becomes a successful dentist in Atlanta; Roshan agrees to a traditional, arranged marriage, but his dental practice is jeopardized by alcoholism and his lack of interest in his work. Esha is tortured by her son’s loveless and childless marriage but has learned to always maintain a public face of contentment: “If you tell a lie often enough, doesn’t it become the truth?” Jenny and Roshan are almost polar opposites. Jenny left home early to reinvent herself. She is independent and relentless in her pursuit of her career. Roshan is a rebel, but he’s constrained by tradition and various obligations to his widowed mother. He is both smothered and nourished by his family. Of these three fully developed characters, Esha is the most intriguing. Widowed when Roshan was 4 and thoroughly entrenched in Indian tradition, she gradually ventures out into mainstream society in search of purpose and reconciliation with her son. Parbhoo, a Southerner who is herself married to an Indian immigrant from South Africa, enriches the narrative with lavish descriptions of Indian food, dress, and family gatherings. And she has a wonderful eye for detail—at a celebration, Esha watches the younger women dancing: “The tiny mirrors on their flowing skirts created a swirl of colors, rotating in a circle.”

An impressive, culturally informative, and engaging love story filled with conflicts.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9982310-0-6

Page Count: 390

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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