PODCAST

Breaking an Estrangement, Bengali-Style

BY MEGAN LABRISE • April 21, 2020

In Missed Translations, a son travels to India to confront his estranged father.

New York Times reporter and standup comic Sopan Deb grew up Hindu in New Jersey, the second son of immigrant parents who were arranged to be married and ultimately divorced. It was onstage at a New York City comedy club circa 2018 that he realized “much of my material—especially the stuff about my parents—resulted from unfamiliarity, both with myself and with them,” as he writes in Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me (Dey Street, April 21).

Deb’s standout debut memoir is the story of a journey to India (and select parts of New Jersey) in search of answers to the many questions surrounding his family’s estrangement: Why was his mother so sad? Why did his parents divorce? Why did his father move back to India? Why hadn’t they spoken in years? And what role had he played?

Kirkus: “Memoirs by children of immigrants often fault clueless parents; this one is refreshing for Deb’s realization that—whatever his elders’ missteps—he needed ‘to take some responsibility for my part in our family’s disconnect’ for things to change.”

Deb and host Megan Labrise discuss the provenance of the title “Missed Translations,” how he came to the decision to seek the truth about his parents’ lives, what makes a good memoir, and some of the memoirs that influenced him.

Then children’s editor Vicky Smith, YA editor Laura Simeon, nonfiction editor Eric Liebetrau, and fiction editor Laurie Muchnick share their reading recommendations for the week.

 

Editors’ picks:

A Hatful of Dragons by Vikram Madan (Wordsong)

Kent State by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic)

Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality in a Divided World edited by John Freeman (Penguin)

Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz (Doubleday)

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? By Alan Weisman (Little, Brown)

How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang (Riverhead)

The "Golden Mountain Chronicles" by Laurence Yep (Harper)

 

Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.

 

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