I often feel that sunbeamsjess and I have some sort of telepathic collection. Every time I start to read her book of the month (normally much later than I’d planned, but still) she uploads her monthly review video. This month was no exception, the only difference being that we both only got around to finishing January’s read this month. I love Jessie’s taste in books, and the way she critiques novels, so I’m always eager to get involved in her ‘monthly’ book club, so today, I’m going to add my 2 cents worth to the mix.
Let’s start with the narrator – Gogol. As a protagonist, I would say Gogol was satisfactory. Personally, I always found the chapters from the perspective of Ashima more interesting, but that in no way detracted from the soundness of Gogol’s own narration.
Speaking of Ashima, can we discuss for a minute how all of her chapters made me crave Indian food. Due to the nature of Ashima’s day to day life, her narrative is often punctuated with descriptions of the meals she’s preparing that always made my stomach rumble. I must have eaten a thousand samosas while reading this book.
Despite the lovely food porn, this book took me forever to read. And yes, I am saying that as a criticism – sort of. When I look back there’s no obvious reason why it took me so long to get through this. Yes, I was relatively busy, but no more so than usual, yet this took me almost a month to complete. I was interested in the story, but I just didn’t seem to have to motivation to pick it up all that often.
I think, to a degree, that might have been because of the novel’s focus on Gogol’s relationships. I really wish we could’ve seen more of Gogol’s position in his workplace after he finished school. Once Gogol progressed to adult life the narrative seemed to shift to a focus on his relationships with women and his own family – I just would have liked to see more!
However, with all that said, I definitely feel that I have more of a true reflection of what Bengali culture really means, even within an American context. I’m finding it particularly interesting now that I’ve moved on to reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith.
Overall, I’d give this novel 3/5 stars. It was really interesting to see Bengali culture and the food porn was right up my alley, but I don’t think the narrative gripped me quite as much as I would have liked.
Let me know what you guys thought down below, I’m always interested to hear from you, especially with a book like this.