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Quarantine: Stories
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Quarantine: Stories

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  174 ratings  ·  41 reviews
With buoyant humor and incisive, cunning prose, Rahul Mehta sets off into uncharted literary territory. The characters in Quarantine—openly gay Indian-American men—are Westernized in some ways, with cosmopolitan views on friendship and sex, while struggling to maintain relationships with their families and cultural traditions. Grappling with the issues that concern all gay ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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I enjoyed these nine short stories about Indian American gay men in West Virginia, New York City, India, and upstate New York. Occasionally they end in ways that are clearly meant to be meaningful -- protagonist chooses spaghetti instead of Indian food after visiting his family; symbolism? -- but mostly they're more subtle than that (that's the title story). While sometimes I felt like he didn't give old people enough credit -- his first generation immigrant Indian elderly characters are often s ...more
Alright, alright, I get it, I get it! You're an overeducated, severely entitled East Coast homosexual who is so distracted by the work of dumping all his baggage on his parents/grandparents that he can't see how completely he's internalized these truly horrible classist, racist, bigoted, and sexist attitudes toward others -- and himself. But did you really need to reiterate that same point for 10 entire stories?
Mehta's collection of short stories range from descriptions of gay Indian American men's relationships to the struggles of Indian family members adjusting to a new life in the United States. The questions of race and sexuality are key components in most of the short stories and the plots are refreshing and interesting. Although many of the stories focus on the themes of family, belonging, and the separation between Indian and Indian American experiences, they all provide a slightly different tak ...more
If Madison Smartt Bell is telling the truth when he writes, on the cover of Quarantine, that the book is the “best first collection I have read in over twenty years,” one can only conclude that Bell doesn’t actually get all that much reading in, at least not of first short-story collections. What Quarantine has going for it – which, it is essential to realize, is not a literary quality at all – is a kind of demographic novelty. When’s the last time you read stories by a gay author about gay Indi ...more
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via the Goodreads First Reads program. (Awesome!)

Let me preface this review by saying that I liked this collection of short stories a lot. They were all very well written and edited, etc. I love the quality of this author’s writing. Individually, each story was interesting and engaging and compelling.

As a collection, however, it became obvious that the main characters featured in each of the stories were more than a little autob
Debut short-story collection explores the lives of gay Indian-American men caught between multiple cultures.

The quarantine in Mehta’s eponymous story is not a medical situation but a kind of forced cultural dislocation imposed, as quarantines often are, for the presumed benefit of those secreted away. Typically it’s the elderly parents of Indian immigrants who must endure a painful relocation to move in with their adult children who are bound by competing feelings of duty and guilt. Trapped in a
taken one at a time, these stories are nicely constructed and even, on occasion, truly powerful. taken as a collection, this book is unfortunately repetitive. it seems that some of the same themes get repeated over and over. in most of the stories the protagonist is an indian-american gay man with a white boyfriend. while the white boyfriend is generally rather nice, the indian-american guy is dislocated, unhappy, frustrated, and in a funk. since this happens over and over, after a bit one gets ...more
Clay Brown
Winner of the Lambda Awards Best Gay Debut FictionWriter’s Award, Quarantine is as insightful and telling as any collection of short stories you’re likely to read this year. Writer Mehta weaves a compelling tapestry of real life characters in this seemingly fictional autobiography. One assumes while reading these stories that it is Mr. Mehta’s own family and life. Not that we know that for true, but the fiction here seems almost non-existent as writer Mehta weaves an easy vibrancy in and about u ...more
Lord. Not sure whether this even deserves 3 stars, tbh. I'm inclined to give it 1 and rail about it but I did enjoy his style of writing at times and did find it amusing. In fact, let me tone this down to 2 stars.

Look, this book is an authentic experience of an Indian's connection with India, as all voices by Indians, diasporic or mainland, are authentic. But that doesn't make it a good voice. It screams 'THANK GOD I'M AMERICAN BECAUSE I COULD NOT BE MORE ASHAMED TO BE INDIAN.' It is redolent wi
In the Story of a Happy Marriage, Patchett extolled the power of the collection of short stories. One of her articles made me curious why I never tried out short stories. I picked this book up at the library and I was pleasantly surprised. The stories were from 10 to 25 pages and were about openly gay men who usually had parents who had immigrated from India. The stories were essentially about relationships and how to navigate them.

There was a very interesting exchange in one story about a man
The issue with short story collections is that there will inevitably be some you like and a few that you skim through once you discover they're not your cup of tea. While Quarantine is a collection of well-written stories from a different perspective (not a lot of LGBT lit seems to come from South-east Asian authors), each story progressively became less interesting as the book continued. I tore through the first four before I found myself half-reading the fifth and thumbing through the rest.

Jerry Delaney

This is a great introduction to a wonderful writer. These are the stories of the children of immigrants who are balancing the western customs they grew up with and the Indian customs of their parents. We see the appeal of both cultures. It's certainly not a new topic in literature but Metha has his own insights to add.

When I started the book I planned to give it 5 stars but couldn't by the end. Although the protagonist of every story is a 20-something gay male of Indian descent, I don't think th
Quarantine is Rahul Mehta’s debut short story collection. Nearly all of the nine stories in it center around gay Indian-American male protagonists who are trying to navigate the murky overlap between sexuality and cultural heritage. With the exception of “Citizen,” all of the stories feature second- or third-generation young men whose beliefs and lifestyles are often at odds with those of their close relatives. Mehta masterfully uses restraint, honesty, and humor throughout his stories, producin ...more
Sara Habein
What links together Rahul Mehta's nine stories in Quarantine is the longing for connection. Each story's protagonist feels at least one degree removed from their own life, either through their romantic relationships or their familial situation. Writing from the point of view of Indian-American gay men, "otherness" arrives without effort as Mehta tackles themes of loyalty, tradition, and yearning. The stories are both immersive and contemplative, and exactly the sort of lonely romanticism that my ...more
George Ilsley
There is something I call the "undisclosed first person narrator syndrome" wherein short stories are written from the first person and the reader is left wondering who this character is supposed to be, and if the "I" in the next story is the same person, and then the whole collection tends to collapse into an unpalatable mush. Sadly, this collection suffers from UFPNS, as well as the tendency for the first person narrator to be someone whose parents were born in India and moved to the US and who ...more

I won this book from a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway, and it definitely wasn't what I was expecting. Quarantine is a collection of nine short stories relating the lives of gay Indian-American men. It alternates between being set in America and being set in India.

The stories were all so good, and I found myself entranced by the characters over and over again. I wish that some of them had been made into longer stories. I was disappointed when I was not able to find out what happened to the charac

I enjoyed these stories. The writing is minimalistic, I would say, but I like that since it goes well with the stories which are like snapshots of a certain time in each character's life (there are not really any endings when the story ends). And while the characters are not ones that I really could say I typically have a lot of similarities - indians, homosexuals, grandmonthers, etc - I nevertheless did connect with them, and wanted to keep reading each story to see what happened. The books is ...more
Knowing the author tainted my perspective as I kept seeing him in each story. Very autobiographical , the stories relate various insights and experiences he had during his evolution as a gay, Indian-American. The writing is inviting and open, so that anyone might walk into the scene and feel he or she was privy to what was happening. My personal favorites were the ones dealing with cultural insights. Some of the more sexual, gay issues were less palatable to me, but that is strictly a personal b ...more
Good effort for a first time author. He sticks with what he knows. All the stories are from the perspective of an American born boy of East Indian parents (and grandparents - who appear in most of the stories). I especially liked "Floating", the only tale that takes place in India. It opens with, "His clothes make me think he is one of us." One of us in that he is American born? One of us in that he is gay? One of us in that he is in a relationship with a non-Indian? It was the only story with a ...more
I love a good short story collection. I'm always hesitant to pick them up, but always glad when I do. The stories here are about more or less lonely gay first generation Indian-American men, and they run the gamut of coming to terms with a native culture that feels somewhat alien to navigating the more selfish impulses of desire (infidelity, a resistance to compassion/empathy, etc). At times the settings and themes can feel repetitive - many stories involve aging grandparents or are set in subur ...more
Mehta's collection had a buzz, I think, because he is Indian-American and gay. The stories all have a gay, Indian-American protagonist who is in some way probably Mehta himself (the main character in "Yours" comments on how the people in autobiographies aren't themselves even when they are). I like Mehta's writing style, and I liked the characters' awkward conversations and interactions. The stories have different protagonists in name only (they are all very similar), so for some reviewers it be ...more
Fantastic book. A diverse collection of short stories of modern queer life from the perspective of an Indian, queer person of color. Poignant, funny, deep, and refreshing.
Mehta's writing style is pretty straightforward and minimalistic, but I instantly fell into each story. The characters are so well-developed, something newer authors often fail at in short stories. Through each story, Mehta skillfully explores issues of sexuality, tradition, family and culture, offering a refreshing perspective of the intricacies of day-to-day relationships. An excellent addition to Queer Literature and fiction in general. (Disclaimer: I received this book through Goodreads' Fir ...more
This book is amazing. I cannot believe the depth of this author. The stories are about Indian Americans second generation and their adjustment to life here. Once again beautiful language, imagery and story lines. I think what I truly liked about this book is that it has universal themes. Yes the characters are Indian but their situations of dealing with family, parents aging, relationships and struggles with creativity can apply to anyone. Another voice that I will be reading on a consistent bas ...more
I really liked this collection of short stories.Evey story features a young Indian-American trying to balance culture and homosexuality.As an example in the first story the main charecter and his boyfriend visit his parents and stay a few days.His mom tells him not to tell his grandpa that they're a couple and has them sleep in the basement that has two beds instead of the bedroom which only has one.

I look forward to more books coming from this author.
This set of stories took a little while to warm up for me. Not that they weren't well written but just didn't grab my interest right away. I did decide to keep reading and did begin to enjoy the stories a more. I think my favorite story was #7, "What We Mean." It was a story filled with sad characters (sad as in actually sad) and revolves around a breakup. I would recommend this as a book to read & hope that maybe others will warm to as I did.
Interesting enough take on a thoroughly Americanized generation of Indian American young gay men. West Virginia, NYC, LA are familiar to this generation as much as India, its customs, languages are foreign. The characters in the stories seem disconnected, adrift, less successful than their parents and resigned to that somehow. Young and trying to figure out one's purpose and largely unable to do so, that's a central theme of this collection.
I wondered if I would have trouble relating to this collection, since most of the stories are told from a rather specific perspective: young Indian-American gay men. But now that I've read it, I feel silly for even thinking that. The characters are wonderfully varied, and their stories are so beautifully written and true.
Quarantine is excellent. Blue Bookcase review coming in a couple of weeks.
I just couldn't get into it. One or two of the stories caught my imagination, but most were flat and uninteresting. Also, I couldn't accept the premise that these were fictional stories; it certainly seemed like they were thinly-veiled memoirs of the author, his family, and friends. If so, they would have been more effective dirctly written as such: the fictionalization was too obvious and distracting.
Sue Russell
I read this very quickly over the weekend after being impressed with (and touched by) Mehta's "Lives" column on the back page of the Sunday NYT. In terms of content, these stories reflect a very specific perspective I don't think I've seen: that of a second-generation gay Indian growing up in a depressed small town in West Virginia, a child of first-generation parents who have "made it" in the U.S.
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