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No Other World

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  37 reviews
From the author of the prize-winning collection Quarantine, an insightful, compelling debut novel set in rural America and India in the 1980s and `90s, part coming-of-age story about a gay Indian American boy, part family saga about an immigrant family's struggles each to find a sense of belonging, identity, and hope

In a rural community in Western New York, twelve-year-old
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 28th 2017 by Harper
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3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  187 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Jessica Woodbury
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it
This one started as a 4-star but ended up as a 3.5 for me. I love the writing, I love the family, but ultimately it didn't quite gel for me the way I'd hoped. The book is centered on an Indian-American family in a small town in upstate New York. At first, you get a hint of family secrets buried beneath the surface as 12-year-old Kiran cannot stop staring at another family's house. The book has micro flash-forwards, revealing in an aside that this character grows up to be gay and that character d ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it

This book started out well for me, Mehta's got a descriptive writing style that reminded me of Rakesh Satyal. Things I liked: The characters are flawed in a way that goes hand-in-hand with the plot. I thought he did a really good job tackling anti-trans bigotry both within and outside of the queer community in the third part of the book. Loved that Shanti was portrayed as a woman that acknowledged her sexuality, which almost never happens for women of color. Things I didn't like: All of the v
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Finally! A gay coming-of-age novel that breaks away from the standard tropes and conventions - in a good way!

The Good:
- Well-rounded, simultaneously flawed & virtuous characters that support the plot throughout the book.
- Descriptive writing style; really great imagery and similes (particularly loved how he compares makeup and clothing to armor).
- Juxtapositions abound in great ways: old world vs. new, religious observers butting heads, 1st generation Americans vs. 2nd gen., immigrant vs. bo
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mehta's first novel, after his award-winning short story collection, Quarantine, fulfills the promise of his shorter work. Although it contains some well-worn tropes from both the gay coming of age novel, and the Indian immigrant in America story, there are enough fresh and interesting details to lend it some uniqueness. Some structural and temporal wonkiness (for example, Prabhu is introduced as coming to America due to his grief over his wife dying in childbirth, leading one to believe his son ...more
Mar 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book for the plot, but I felt like Mehta's narration spoke too much, gave too much to me. Personally, I don't like the sensation of being spoon-fed; the characters felt overly explained, in a way that made them two-dimensional and unlikeable.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kiran’s yearnings echo his parents’ bewilderment as they try to adjust to a new world. His father, Nishit Shah, a successful doctor, is haunted by thoughts of the brother he left behind. His mother, Shanti, struggles to accept a life with a man she did not choose—her marriage to Nishit was arranged—and her growing attachment to an American man. Kiran is close to his older sister, Preeti—until an unexpected threat and an unfathomable betrayal drive a wedge between them that will reverberate throu ...more
Andrew Peters
When I read the Lambda Literary Foundation's review, mentioning a gay, Indian protagonist, growing up in Western New York in the 1980s, I think it took me all of thirty seconds to buy it on iTunes. I was a gay kid growing up in WNY (Buffalo) in the 1980s, and I've enjoyed Southeast Asian authors (Shyam Selvadurai). So beyond the literary merits of Mehta's debut novel, the story was a bit of a homecoming for me. The setting rang true from pop/punk/rock references, childhood games ("Smear the Quee ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was a mixed-bag. The climax was anti-climatic. More troubling: the colonial mentality, that when there was a choice for a romantic interest, every time a white person was preferable. This occurs in at least 3 instances.

There are a few beautiful passages:

Over the years, Bharat sometimes wondered what his life might have looked like had they immigrated. Now, in Kiran's room, he was collecting clues not only about his American cousin but about his own alternate American self.

Even after th
Shweta Keswani
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book is extremely outdated ... indeed it is from another time but then the writing needs to have more depth to it , the characters should have been sharper to at-least make it an interesting read ... first half was manageable but after that it went down at a amazing speed .... The climax ... well there wasn’t worth mentioning. Absolute waste of time .
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read for review for Adult Books for Teens. Really beautiful.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a story about family, culture, and identity. Kiran is born to a couple who immigrated to America from India in search of the American dream. In some ways, they have it. They are doing fine and living in a nice town in Western NY, but Kiran feels like he doesn't quite belong. He questions how he fits, both in his nation and in his own home. The book also introduces us to the uncle who stayed behind in India and eventually to his son as well, providing the reader different eyes on the stor ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
An extraordinarily beautiful smile on R. Mehta’s face inside the back cover convinced me to spend my time with his story. I am so glad that I made this choice. Choices we make, and then those decisions made for us where we have no choice plays a key role in No Other World. This book read like there was not a word out of place. The symbolism is just right. The wild mouse who seems to not be able to be caught played against the cuter, harmless pet mouse who ends up a victim; the crows who stand gu ...more
Jun 18, 2017 added it
Shelves: fiction
A well-written family story, with often interesting slants on those obligatory pieces of family dramas: identity, heritage, secrets, lies, unhappiness, sacrifice, infidelity, and fidelity. Mehta shakes up his characters' stories like a kaleidoscope, with different people and different moments in the past-present-future colliding and creating patterns within single sections, paragraphs, and sometimes sentences. I thought it was a compelling writing style, even if it was sometimes too herky-jerky ...more
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed No Other World, Rahul Mehta’s book about the immigrant experience. The book is more than just a rehash of say, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, and in many ways is more ambitious in scope. It takes us on a journey both chronologically and geographically to little known worlds that came to life for me. The parts of the book that take us into two of those worlds, immigrant life in a stark, rural area of the U.S. and a fascinating look into the Hijra culture of India were especially e ...more
Gene Turchin
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
No Other World, a novel by Rahul Metha is a literary novel, a coming of age novel and a novel about a transplanted Indian family. I don’t know if I can do it justice in a review because it is complex and nuanced. The story is narrated by various characters within the family.

I can only surmise that the conflicting emotions swirling through and around Kiran, his mother, Shanti, his sister and his father must tap a vein in the immigrant experience. Here but not part of the American society and ye
Rahul Mehta's newly released debut novel, No Other World centers on Kiran Shah, first generation Indian-American son of Dr. Nishit Shah and his wife, Shanti, who together with his older sister, Preeti, grow up in Western New York state in the early 1980s. Over the course of two decades, Kiran struggles not only with his budding sexuality, but also cultural identity, familial duty, and personal identity. While chapters devoted to Kiran's childhood are shaped by heartbreaking incidents involving h ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had to do stops and starts in reading this book. It was a personal and painful experience for me. Having known Rahul since he was about 12, I personalized every word and every line. I kept seeing Rahul as Kiran, even though multiple aspects were totally out of sync. To me it was actually painful to read certain parts.
Still, the tale and the journey were very enlightening. I knew little about true Indian culture. Google helped me better understand some things, and, others were so alien that I
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Few writers catch the sadness of the human soul like Mehta. His work weaves together the stories of a South Asian family lost in their identities: a young boy tinkering with his sexuality, a Mom torn between her duty and desire, an uncle unsteady by his wife’s death and his brothers distance. What’s the most captivating about this book is how Mehta charges the most mundane moments with tension, like the scene where Nishit cleans his glasses. Well worth a read.
Emily Thackeray
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful and wise book. How heartfelt. Maybe for me it was so special because I'm so crazy about India, because I studied Indian religion, because I know how to say thank you in Hindi and Urdu, because I think one of the saddest events in human history was the 1947 Partition of India.
Maybe because I have always felt like an outsider, a misfit, myself. But this book resonated with me tremendously. If it did not with you, so be it. You're probably lucky that it didn't.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely book, filled with all kinds of daring and risk-taking. Mehta’s exploration of an Indian family in the United States is universally relatable. He sensitively covers child abuse, queer Indian identity, and the ancient trans population of India— the hijras. It’s beautifully written, and what he captures so well are the ways in which families know all sorts of unspoken truths about each other, and that imperfect love is the only love there is. I’d read it again.
Kathy Dhanda
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Coming of age book by a gay Indian man. Confused by his identity, Karan struggles with the paradox of his traditional culture and his rural upbringing in the US. While the struggle is real, the writing felt rather contrived and abrupt. The introduction of the hijra (hermaphrodite) in the last half felt completely out of place. A brave book, no doubt, dealing with issues of identity, homophobia, and loss of home.
Leonardo Kingston
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
From the author of the prize-winning collection Quarantine, an insightful, compelling debut novel set in rural America and India in the 1980s and `90s, part coming-of-age story about a gay Indian American boy, part family saga about an immigrant family's struggles each to find a sense of belonging, identity, and hope
Richa Bhattarai
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Parts of it are interesting and compelling, but on the whole it seemed incoherent and languishing to me. An Indian-American boy coming-of-age in a sleepy town, some touching bits but overall, would not like to revisit.
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A thought provoking look at an Indian immigrant family, focused on their American born son as they try to adapt to their new lives in rural New York. The author then shows the struggle from another view as the now older son visits relatives in rural India.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shanti, the mother character, was definitely the highlight of this one for me. At first I thought it was going to be a typical coming-of-age/coming-out novel, but with an Indian American twist. There's definitely more to it than that, but the symbolism could sometimes be a tad heavy-handed.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Complex family drama that touches on the isolation of not only immigration but homosexuality and racism. It has lots of light moments, but Mehta really gets you into the hearts and minds of the people in this family. Really touching.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. The end doesn’t quite work for me but there’s some good stuff in here.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
3.5? Surprisingly sweet for hitting on some dark subject matter. I wanted more of nearly every character.
Rachel Hopkins
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
It was good - not awesome. Best for older readers.
Mary M
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting story, but I just didn't like any of the characters.
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