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The Windfall

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For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, cut corners, gossipy neighbors, and the small dramas of stolen yoga pants and stale marriages. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha comes into an enormous and unexpected sum of money, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status: skinny ties, hired guards, shoe-polishing machines, and all.

The move sets off a chain of events that rock their neighbors, their marriage, and their son, who is struggling to keep a lid on his romantic dilemmas and slipping grades, and brings unintended consequences, ultimately forcing the Jha family to reckon with what really matters..

295 pages, Hardcover

First published June 27, 2017

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About the author

Diksha Basu

6 books218 followers
Diksha Basu is a writer and occasional actor.

Originally from New Delhi, India, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and now divides her time between New York City and Mumbai.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,186 reviews
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
599 reviews18.7k followers
August 19, 2017
This is a wonderful rags-to-riches story filled with lively characters and humour.

The novel starts with Mr. and Mrs. Jha preparing a dinner for their neighbors to inform them they will soon be moving away to an affluent neighbor in New Delhi.

Mr. Jha is a self-made man who recently achieved financial success and wants to upgrade everything in his life including his surroundings. This is how the book begins and what follows is an interesting, rich, and funny story.

The story is told from different points of view and the characters are well-drawn and engaging. The novel takes place in New Delhi and America and it's just a delight to read.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel and recommend it to all, specially those who would like to travel to far away places without leaving their home.

FINAL NOTE: I love foreign films including those from India, I made a post of my favorite Hindi films which you can read here. I highly recommend these AMAZING films (If I had to choose one I'd say go watch The Lunchbox right now!).

Review posted on blog.
Profile Image for Julie .
3,998 reviews58.9k followers
July 6, 2017
The Windfall by Diksha Basu is a 2017 Crown publishing publication.

What a delightful tale!

Books can take you anywhere and everywhere, without leaving the comfort of your own home. I’ve been trying to incorporate more ‘cultural’ books in my reading diet, and have been loving it, but the synopsis for this book had me feeling a little nervous. I passed on the book several times, because I know so little about the manners, customs and culture of India, I was worried I wouldn’t ‘get’ the humor or understand the complexities of the novel.

But, the book just kept showing up on my radar like it was begging me to try it. So I gave up and checked it out of the library.

Naturally, you will probably enjoy this book more if you are familiar with the customs of India, but you don’t have to be an expert to get the general gist of the story.

What really sold me, was the characterizations and dialogue, which, despite my unfamiliarity with Indian culture, was hilarious and utterly charming, and pretty much spot on, when it comes to how one handles a sudden overnight accumulation of vast wealth.

The most puzzling character was the Jha’s son, Rapak, who is attending school in America. He seems to adapt well, for the most part, to America, and even has an American girlfriend, but, while he wishes to totally embrace his new life, he is still tied to the traditions and values he was raised on, which becomes such a conflict for him, he can't decide who to be, and winds up struggling with his studies and relationships. I’m not sure I liked him, especially, because he was too wishy washy and lacked depth. But, he does eventually pull his head out enough to pacify me.

One of my favorite parts of the book, features a young, childless widow, who longs to embrace life again, but is terribly lonely, wistfully dreaming of a love match. I loved the unexpected romance that develops for her which was quite lovely.

But, at the center of the story is the jarring adjustment the Jha’s must make as they leave their close- knit housing community, where everybody knows each other, (and your business), to a quiet, wealthy neighborhood. Mrs. Jha misses her friends, and does not embrace the trappings of wealth in the same way her husband does, which of course reveals much about how money has affected their marriage and individual priorities.

A bit of a competition arises between Mr. Jha and his new neighbor, Mr. Chopra, which is the best part of the story.

No matter how hard you try, or not- acquiring sudden wealth will change you to some degree. It will have an effect on your relationships, your perspectives, or even your value system. The Jha’s find that money- surprise, surprise- does not bring true contentment after all. Perhaps they had been rich all along, only didn’t appreciate it until their monumental shift in fortune begins to bring about more stress than happiness.

While cultural, gender, and social conflicts are evident in the story, the family dynamics are at the very heart of the matter. The family must work together to hold on to all that is dear, help each other through giant, swift changes in order to keep the family unit functioning, while they find a way to adapt.

There is an underlying current in the story at times, that hums alongside the hilarious one-upmanship games, which suggests that beneath the veneer of societal expectations, is a pressure cooker of tension and fear, that threatens to explode, but in this case, it ultimately dies out with a whimper instead of a roar. This approach kept the tone light, and the tension muted, which was in accordance with the atmosphere and tone of the novel, but perhaps it may have dulled the dramatic elements just a little bit.

The ending is warm and satisfying, even though the story kind of lost a little momentum there at the end for some reason, but overall, I found it to be enlightening, an easier read than I was expecting and I really enjoyed learning about New Delhi and more about Indian customs.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
442 reviews656 followers
November 22, 2017
Rating 3.75

I always enjoy reading about different cultures and especially about India. I am fascinated by India, the food, the customs, Bollywood, you name it. When I saw this one I knew I wanted to read it. I won a copy of this book via #ReadItForward. It took me awhile to get into this one but I laughed and warmed to it in the end. I debated between a 3.5 and 4, so split the diff.

I would sum this up as money doesn't buy you everything you dreamed of and ultimate happiness. No matter what, you are the same person. Mr. Jha sells a start-up he has and makes millions of dollars. Granted, he was taken advantage of a bit and could have made so much more, but he's happy with what he got. He, his wife and son live in a less fancy, somewhat poor part of India. There are a cast of character neighbors who are such busy bodies. Everything that everyone does is heavily scrutinized and commented on. Any small change a person makes or something outside the norm someone does, oh the gossip starts. Even when a neighbor who is widowed finds love and is going to marry a divorced man...can you even *believe* it. :-) After making his money, the Jha's move to a high-class neighborhood. Where, everything is just about the same....a bunch of nosy busy bodies, except these ones are rich. Mr. Jha meets his neighbors the Chopras where the two men get into a sort of competition to one-up one another - from everything to having a gate guard, how their wives dress, how well their sons are doing...and after some time, when both men's sons fall from grace, it's a competition on who fell the hardest, or who was the best at being the worst. It's all about doing what's expected of you - Rhupa, Mr. Jha's son is in love with an American girl, but custom dictates he must marry an Indian woman. So he dumps the girl because of custom. It all became quite funny.

I must say, the one part that will stick with me is when the Ja's went to NYC to visit their son. Mrs. Jha wants to go to Tiffany's and have the whole 'Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's' experience. She's a fan of the movie, and is so disappointed at the coldness of the 1st floor, being nothing like the movie. She does not wish to have breakfast there. Overall, I'm glad I read this one. Thanks to the website ReadItForward for providing me a copy of this book through my win.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,146 reviews501 followers
December 10, 2017
A heartfelt comedy of manners for readers of Seating Arrangements and Crazy Rich Asians, Diksha Basu's debut novel unfolds the story of a family discovering what it means to be nouveau riche in modern India.

For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, cut corners, gossipy neighbors, and the small dramas of stolen yoga pants and stale marriages. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha comes into an enormous and unexpected sum of money, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status: skinny ties, hired guards, shoe-polishing machines, and all.

The move sets off a chain of events that rock their neighbors, their marriage, and their son, who is struggling to keep a lid on his romantic dilemmas and slipping grades, and brings unintended consequences, ultimately forcing the Jha family to reckon with what really matters.

Hilarious and wise, The Windfall illuminates with warmth and charm the precariousness of social status, the fragility of pride, and, above all, the human drive to build and share a home. Even the rich, it turns out, need to belong somewhere.

This novel was shear joy. Humorous, relaxing, entertaining, chicken-soup-for-the-soul read. It had me laughing, and smiling all the way. I was amazed to find that it was a debut novel resulting from a Creative Writing Program. Although there was a deeper undertone to it, the story did not aim to rip the guts out of history, family relationships, social or political issues, and yet still managed to provide enough information to ensure a great, satisfying read. The ending had a kind-of cliffhanger feel to it, but I wanted to believe that the author left the outcome to the reader's imagination (and probably plan a follow up). I actually liked the ending for this book as a stand-alone. What a great book! This story lifted my spirit.

Profile Image for Lisa.
1,417 reviews535 followers
September 19, 2020
[2.8] I yawned more than I laughed while reading this satire about a newly rich family in Delhi. Some good moments, but by the end I was skimming.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,821 reviews498 followers
June 4, 2017
This book is very lightweight social satire. I would have preferred satire with more bite to it. Mr. Anil Jha made millions of dollars when he sold his website and now he and his wife Bindu are moving to their first house in an upscale neighborhood in Delhi and leaving their apartment and neighbors behind. Their son is going to business school in upstate New York, where he is in danger of flunking out. He can't bring himself to tell his parents about his school troubles or his American girlfriend. Mrs. Reema Ray is their friend from the old neighborhood. She is a young widow. While the Jhas in their forties are getting a chance at a fresh start, thirty something Mrs. Ray doesn't appear to have any prospects. I might have preferred the book if the main focus had been on Mrs. Ray. It appears that no matter which neighborhood you live in in Delhi, you can't escape nosy neighbors and a sad need to impress those neighbors.

I liked the details about life in India, but nothing at all happens in this book. Even Mr. Jha's out of left field meltdown near the end of the book doesn't add the needed sharpness. The book is really just pleasant.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Resh (The Book Satchel).
418 reviews487 followers
September 14, 2017
I loved this read. It is funny, makes you laugh, and constantly giggle. Here are the highlights of the book:

-the book is 'very Indian to the core'; if you know what I mean. It is real the real thing, not a made up face of India that appeals to the foreign reader. Another book that I found to be quintessentially Indian is the brilliant Ghachar Ghochar, which is of a more serious theme.

-This book is the ghost buster of stereotypes : over anxious Indian parents who urge the kids to study, Indian widows who live lives dependent on others, Indian parents who force you into arranged marriage?
Sigh! I am so glad this book gave a realistic look into what happens in a large part of India in middle class families. Often the mindsets in the characters (of middle class families) of books from Indian authors settled abroad are not in sync with the realities of today.

-Laughs! Yes, the turn of events will make you giggle and Diksha makes sarcastic remarks of some of the quirks of Indians in the most hilarious way possible. I kept nodding and saying, "So true, why do we do that?"

- A major theme is how new money influences our lifestyles. The rich want to show off everything; so they are willing to change their jobs, houses, furniture; everything to be at par with the other rich. This was perfectly done.

-All characters had good and bad sides- perfect. Also very quirky characters.

-The whole book is a kind of self discovery. The Jhas are trying to fit in their new neighbourhood. Their son, Rupak, is trying not to mess up his life and degree, Mrs. Ray, the widow, is trying to see where life would lead her and so on.

For the lengthier review : http://www.thebooksatchel.com/windfal...
Rating : 3.5/5

Much thanks to Bloomsbury India for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Book of the Month.
229 reviews12.5k followers
July 1, 2017
Moving On Up ... in Modern Day India
By Judge Rachel Syme

Whenever the weather turns hot all I want to do is read gossipy, effervescent novels about people surfing precarious social tides and trying to make it to dry land in one piece. The Windfall quenches just that thirst: a bubbly, fun, witty comedy of manners about a family attempting a lifestyle upgrade in Delhi. It’s a story about ambition, family secrets, and the pride before the fall.

When Mr. Jha, the family patriarch, sells his website for a fortune, he finds himself suddenly able to relocate—out of the cramped Mayur Palli Housing Complex, where he has lived with his wife for over twenty years, and into Gurgaon, one of the toniest neighborhoods in all of Delhi. Suddenly free of the prying neighbors and tight living spaces of middle class India, the Jhas are like a modern day update on The Jeffersons, endeavoring to fit into their new surroundings and the accompanying social pressures—they learn how to use dimmer switches, Mr. Jha buys a corporate-grade shoe polisher for their home. But of course, along with new material things come brand-new problems. Soon, the Jhas are enmeshed in a complex game of humblebrag one-upmanship with their neighbors, who casually drop references to Harrods and luxurious recreation clubs and new Jaguars. It seems that once you’re rich, only being richer will do.

Meanwhile, the Jhas' son, who left for business school in America shortly after his parents’ windfall, has fallen in love with a woman named Elizabeth, spending profligately, and almost flunking out of his MBA program. He starts to become enchanted with the trappings of his fathers’ bank account and romanticizing his new surroundings: “He bought an iPhone and an iPad and a GoPro camera and he downloaded Final Cut Pro and he spent his time filming his life in America and creating his own mini film versions of the shows and movies he had grown up watching.” He falls into a melancholic state, knowing that back home, his parents still want him to marry an Indian girl, and that if he cannot succeed in business, he will never be able to have the independence he craves.

Money changes everything—and in the case of the Jhas, it puts stressors on all aspects of their lives: marriage, parenthood, friendship, sanity. Watching the Jhas deal with their new circumstances is a joy, even when they’re not having much fun. If you want to read a novel that fizzles in the back of your throat like a cold glass of champagne, full of evocative details and sparkly trappings of modern Indian high society, then lay out on a towel and take in Diksha Basu’s debut.

Read more at https://www.bookofthemonth.com/the-wi...
Profile Image for Lata.
3,499 reviews187 followers
July 26, 2017
3.5 stars. Mr. Jha has found himself newly wealthy, thanks to the sale of his internet business. With this newfound wealth, he decides to uproot himself and his wife to another part of Delhi to a well-off neighbourhood. Mr. Jha's son Rupak is studying, badly, in the US and is involved with a white American young woman.
Mr. Jha meets his new neighbour Mr. Chopra, and the two begin a game of one-upmanship, with each man's insecurity propelling him to either purchase something ridiculous or talk of doing so, or talk up their sons' exploits and deficiencies. Meanwhile, Mrs. Jha must cope with Mr. Jha's insecurities and her own loneliness in her new home and wonders how to keep herself occupied now that she no longer works outside the home. (Mrs. Jha had been working for years helping village craftspeople sell their wares in the city.) Rupak can't focus on his M.B.A studies, and can't tell his parents about his relationship, and feels the tug/conflict of family expectations and his own desires. Mrs. Jha's good friend in the old neighbourhood, Mrs Ray, struggles to deal with her loneliness and the cultural and neighbourhood expectations of how she should behave, as she's a widow.
There are funny moments in this story, however I mostly felt uncomfortable and irritated with the male characters' shallow status obsessions, and their expectations that their wives would go along with them. I also found the general behaviour of the background men to be disgusting. And I was sickened with my culture's beliefs and attitudes about female widows, and women in general. And to top it off, I was totally frustrated and annoyed with Rupak and the different cultural expectations that exist for daughters and sons.
That said, I did like the characters, for all their faults, and wanted to see where their actions took them, and I would actually have happily followed Mrs. Jha and Mrs. Ray and their further experiences.
Profile Image for Brown Girl Reading.
346 reviews1,597 followers
August 22, 2020
I really enjoyed this wonderfully told story of the Jha family who has come into 20 million dollars after Mr Jha sells his successful internet website to a multinational company. From there we follow how Mr. and Mrs. Jha navigate adapting to life with the rich on the other side of Delhi. Diksha Basu does a fantastic job of educating the reader on Indian culture while making us laugh and smile. Told through informative lively realistic dialogues you will be immediately pulled into the story and won't want it to end. I wish more minority authors wrote about their cultures with humor.
Profile Image for Julia.
1,287 reviews23 followers
April 23, 2017
A cute book about a family from East Delhi adjusting to life on the wealthy side of town. Mr. Jha has sold his website for a fortune, and moves his family from their middle class life style to an upper class one. Mr. Jha and his new neighbor, Mr. Chopra engage in a series of one-upmanship. Both trying to prove that they are so wealthy they can afford anything. Mrs. Jha just misses her old neighbors and friends. Meanwhile, the Jha's son is studying in America, and is in danger of flunking out. Everyone is experiencing a lot of stress, most of it caused by keeping up appearances and lying to one another.

I found the book interesting, and enjoyed the look into a culture that I am not familiar with. Mrs. Jha and her friend Mrs. Ray were the most likable characters. Rupak Jha, the son, is struggling with finding his place in the world, and falling in love with an American woman, something he is sure his family will be against. Overall, a nice book.

I received a free ARC from the publisher and goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for A. S..
Author 2 books192 followers
December 2, 2017

the bandar blog
I requested  The Windfall by Dikshu Basu a few months ago, because I'm not-so-secretly obsessed with books that are heavy on Indian culture. I had this book on my shelf for a while before I finally decided to read it. When I did, I quickly became enamored with it.

the family bond, societal pressures, and Indian culture

5 Things I loved about The Windfall:
1. Its focus on Indian culture. This book's plot is one that could only exist in India. The story revolves around a family who has become recently wealthy and is moving out of their middle-class neighborhood into a much higher class one. The things that happen as a result are both fascinating (as a reader who is not Indian) and hilarious.

2. The social interactions between friends and family. The relationships in this book are completely charming. While not all relationships are positive ones, I found myself invested in all the interactions that the characters had and loving every conversation that took place between them.

3. Its light-hearted nature. While this book does have some more serious subjects, on the whole it is a very light-hearted book. I felt buoyed up by the story, and never brought down to some sad or lonely place.

4. It's funny! While this book touches on real subjects and real issues/stereotypes in India, it's obviously somewhat tongue-in-cheek. You will find yourself giggling with every page turn.

5. It's the perfect length. While I would have loved this book even if it had been triple the size, this 200-something page book is a quick read.

I completely loved this book and would recommend it anyone who enjoys Indian culture and/or warm-hearted reads about family. 

What's the last light-hearted read you enjoyed?
Profile Image for salmaagroudy.
154 reviews96 followers
August 20, 2017
20/8/2017: i wrote an article/different review about this book, and if you guys are interested, you can read it here!

3.5 stars.

Wealth. Humour. Culture. Love. Family. A weird and a wild mix, but a good one indeed.

Thank you Crown Publishing for sending me a free, finished copy of this book in an exchange for an honest review!

The Windfall revolves around a number of different families and individuals whom their lives changed when Mr. Jha gained millions of dollars by selling his website and decided to move his family into a much bigger house in a fancier neighbourhood.

The story follows the Jha family on their transit from a local complex in East Delhi to a House in Gurgaon: a neighbourhood with high-class houses and families with personal guards, shiny cars, and thousand dollars-worthy jewellery.

The book is dipped in humour and social satire, which are illustrated in poor Mr. Jha's constant pretentious efforts towards his new (and just as wealthy) neighbours: from showing off his family's expensive trip to NY, to constantly mentioning his one and only son—Rupak—who's doing his MBA abroad.

Despite how i was constantly annoyed by most of the character's behaviours, how pretentious they were, and how all of Mr. Jha's actions were driven by his obsession of impressing and wow-ing their new, wealthy neighbours, the things that made me continue reading were much more dominant. First, Mrs. Jha's kindness and her wit: she was the best out of all The Windfall's characters, one that i couldn't help but enjoy reading about. Then there's how this book exposed me to the Indian culture and some Indian traditions—which i absolutely loved learning and reading about—without having to leave my place. And lastly, the humour that lays within this book's pages.

The Jha's story highlights how one single event or action can lead to changes—both small and huge—and how our destinies affect those around us both: close and far.
Profile Image for MaryannC. Fiendish Book freak.
485 reviews106 followers
July 12, 2017
3.75 Stars.

This was a pretty enjoyable light hearted read. After much hard work and perseverance Mr. Jha has just sold his company, has come into sudden wealth and tells his wife that they will be moving out of the close knit apartment complex in Delhi they have always known into a fancy new home. Filled with a bit of sadness at having to leave their neighbors who have been close friends Mrs. Jha has a hard time adjusting to the new contraptions and quietness of their new home, while Mr. Jha reveling in his new found money tries to outdo his other wealthy neighbors. Oftentimes humorous, I enjoyed this read that included snippets of their old neighbor's lives like the young beautiful widow Mrs. Ray, who thinks her life no longer exists because her husband died to the slightly envious friends The Guptas and The Patnaiks. There is also Mr. and Mrs. Jha's son, Rupak who studying in New York struggles with what his parents will say when he tells them he is involved with a beautiful blonde and not a woman of his culture, all in all a light, enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Melissa.
2,268 reviews144 followers
June 28, 2017
A wonderful comedy of manners about the life of a family from East Delhi and what happens when a successful business deal allows them to move into the upper class. Basu gives each of her four main characters (Anil, Bindu, Rupak, and their friend Reema) different hurdles with this move. And I have to say, the "keeping up with the Jonses" competition with the neighbors is never old whether you're from Delhi or New York or middle-America. A good book for the summer.
Profile Image for Zak.
406 reviews28 followers
December 24, 2018
A light-hearted satire which lampoons the way Indian society places undue emphasis on "keeping up with the Joneses". Being satire, I would say some of it is obviously exaggerated but it's still good fun to read. From what I can see, it seems that traditional Indian and Chinese families share many of the same "values". An altogether enjoyable outing, though I have to say I have a particular fondness for anything written by Indian authors. [Final rating: 3.75*]
154 reviews4 followers
June 9, 2017
A longer review is available on my blog:

This was a very light, fun read. It had a bit of comedy, a bit of romance and a bit of culture. It also contained an important lesson on jealousy and being satisfied with what one has in life. Mr. Jha spends so much time trying to impress Mr. Chopra that it is hard to imagine that he has any time to enjoy himself and his new life. He is also very insensitive to his wife's discomfort with their newfound wealth. The characters were very likeable and interesting, though. I really enjoyed the story and it was a fun book to read. I would recommend it to those that enjoy books on romance, different cultures or women's fiction.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Penguin's First to Read program. All opinions are my own.
463 reviews2 followers
May 30, 2017
THE WINDFALL by Diksha Basu
This book is not funny. It is just sad. A bunch of pretentious people trying their hardest to be even more pretentious is just depressing. I would have preferred a book about Mrs. Ray and Uben, somewhat minor characters who serve as foils for the Jha’s and Chopra’s. Mrs. Ray offers a breath of lightness and air in this very arid book. The Jha’s have come into money and are determined that everyone will know how wealthy they are. They wear uncomfortable clothes, sit on a very uncomfortable sofa and befriend very unlikeable people.
The writing is okay but totally wasted on this depressing book.
1 of 5 stars
Profile Image for Evelina | AvalinahsBooks.
852 reviews443 followers
August 11, 2019
It took me a while to warm up to The Windfall, but warm up I did. At first I was completely confused about where the book was going. Was it about how happy it is to suddenly move up in the world, or is it about how sad it is, on the contrary? Is this going to be about their life after their move? But if so, why is it taking them so long to move? And ultimately, it turned out this book isn't about life before or after - it's about change in life. And it's got about as many points of view as it has characters, and that makes it so very realistic.

Perhaps the part I enjoyed the most about The Windfall was the soft middle-age romance. More books should have this! I'm not a big fan of romance because it makes me feel very bad about my own histories and experiences, but if I found more romance stories like that, they would genuinely make me a happier person. The romance isn't a big part of the book at all, and it's so understated - it's not the Hollywood (or, in this case, maybe Bollywood) love story that is literally the meaning of everything - in my 30s, I dread that skewed view of romance. It's the quiet, soft, real people romance. People who have been disappointed in life, people who know romantic films are but fairytales of the modern world. The love story was so light, soft and comfortable it made me all warm inside. Love doesn't need to be world shattering to be love. And to be lovely.

Another great point this book made was how we construct what people must think in our heads, when those people are actually thinking the complete opposite, and are in turn making their own castle of clouds about what we think. It's expressed very well in The Windfall and I felt it was a large part of the book.

And lastly, to a foreigner, this was a great glimpse into the everyday world of New Delhi (I'm not saying India because India is vast and regions can be very different). It's always wonderful to read something genuine like that and have it available in another country.

I really enjoyed The Windfall. If it goes a little slow at first, give it time - it really does grow on you. It's a wonderful book.

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Profile Image for Jaylia3.
752 reviews129 followers
September 6, 2017
This entertaining novel of family life and social mores in modern India has less of a spotlight on romance than Jane Austen’s books, but if Austen was applying her sly wit and acute powers of observation to contemporary New Delhi rather than Regency England she might write something like The Windfall. The story is centered on the recently rich Jha family and the ways all that money is changing their lives and perspectives. One result of there being less focus on romance than in, for instance, Pride and Prejudice, is that Diksha Basu gives readers more page time with a wealth and status obsessed version of Mr. Collins and his patient more sensible wife, than she does with any Elizabeth and Darcy or Jane and Bingley type characters, and I would have liked to read more about Mrs. Ray, a widowed friend of Mrs. Jha. But that’s not to say this book didn’t keep me reading until late into the night. Besides being the funniest novel I’ve read in a long time, I really enjoyed briefly inhabiting a world I don’t know a lot about.

I read an advanced review copy of this book supplied to me at minimal cost by the publisher. Review opinions are mine.
Profile Image for Kasa Cotugno.
2,337 reviews441 followers
May 16, 2017
The Jhas have lived in the same housing development in East New Delhi for over twenty years, all their married life. When Mr. Jha sells his website for an enormous amount, they think it time to move to Gurgaon, the uber rich neighborhood across town. Diksha Basu has crafted a beautiful novel out of the challenges that ensue when a family finds itself attempting to keep up with the Chopras, little knowing that their neighbors are just as competitive in their attempts to stay ahead of any perceived inequality in taste or welfare. Each character is given an inner voice with sometimes hilarious results, sometimes, poignant. The effects of globalization can be summed up in one sentence in which Rupak, the Jha son, reflects during his parents' visit to the United States where he is attending college: "...here was his father, Hindu, in his yarmulke, speaking happily to his Muslim brothers from Bangladesh." Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Rachel.
706 reviews12 followers
July 25, 2017
Windfall is the story of the Jha’s, who live in East Delhi in India. Mr. Jha has just sold his website for 20 million dollars. The Jha’s are moving out of their middle class neighborhood, where they have lived for decades, to a rich suburb. This turns out to more of a culture shock than either of them could have imagined. Mr. Jha becomes involved in a very intense “keeping up with the Jones’s” battle with his new neighbors, the Chopras. He is frantically trying to learn how to be a “real” rich person. Mrs. Jha, on the other hand, feels almost guilty about becoming wealthy and leaving her friends in the old neighborhood behind. She is reluctant to give up her old ways. For instance, she still take bucket baths, even though the new house has an actual shower.

Ms. Basu writes as if the reader has a basic working knowledge of India and Indian culture. I read quite a bit of Indian literature so I didn’t have a problem understanding anything (with the exception of a bath mug vs. toilet paper. (I found some very interesting YouTube videos about that!) An average reader may have to look up a few words, but nothing that would be consequential to understanding the overall story.

After reading Windfall, I totally get the comparisons to Crazy Rich Asians. The Jha’s aren’t billionaires but they are new money and adjusting to it in a funny and often ostentatious way. The conversations Mr. Jha and Mr. Chopra have in which they try and one-up each other are cringe worthy. Poor Mr. Jha.

I love both books set in India and comedies of manners. Windfall is the perfect combination of the two – making it just the right book for me! If you’re looking for your next summer read, put Windfall on your list.
Profile Image for Soha.
44 reviews25 followers
September 4, 2020
I'll start by saying that this story is quintessentially Indian. It captures the idiosyncrasies of middle-class Indians so well; the good, the bad, and everything in between.

"I'm not serving anyone cold soup." Mrs. Jha said. "I don't care what the fashion is in Australia or America, but in India, serving someone cold soup is rude."

It took me a while to get into this story, but once I did, I wanted to know it all - how do Mr. and Mrs. Jha adjust to shifting from their small flat in East Delhi to the rich neighborhood of Gurgaon? When will Rupak pick up the courage to tell his parents about his White American girlfriend? How can he start pulling up his grades? How will he tell his parents about what he really wants to study and how will they react to it? How will Mrs. Ray, a childless widow, confront her feelings of loneliness and lean into a second chance at love and romance?

At the heart of this book are the dynamics between the characters. We get to see everyone adjusting to their respective changes in different ways, and there's the added layer of where they are on the social and economic ladder in society. I applaud Diksha Basu for handling these interactions in raw, realistic, and sometimes hilarious ways. Lots of life wisdom in between the lines.

Bindu (Mrs. Jha) and Reema (Mrs. Ray) were probably my favourite characters.

There's definitely laughter and sometimes tears, but it's ultimately heartwarming.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 57 books7,867 followers
November 10, 2019
A comedy of manners set in Delhi as a middle-aged Indian couple come to terms with sudden massive wealth, while their son studying business in the US attempts to do the same plus cultural differences.

It's very readable in an enjoyably gossipy way (I love a good soap opera) and there are some very funny observations. Terrific sense of place, also, very well conveyed, and a great depiction of a fundamentally loving marriage where it's been a couple of decades and they both know each other's flaws. It just doesn't quite have enough plot/event to make it a gripping story. (eg, quite a long stretch is taken up with Mr Jha deciding to buy an automatic shoe-polisher then changing his mind and returning it.) There are two significant-sized incidents for the central characters, but neither of them really causes any massive change for the Jhas that we see properly explored--it feels like any change happens off page. Maybe that's the deal with comedy of manners, but to me it seemed a missed opportunity to give the book more heft and depth. Then again, if you're aiming at a beach read, that's probably the point.
Profile Image for Owly&HerBooks.
374 reviews70 followers
August 24, 2017

There was so much that caught my attention when first picking up this novel and a lot of it had to do with the changes in surroundings, the way someone's life can be turned upside down even when everything seems like it's going towards a much better outcome. It is a story that leads us through all of that from many different point of views, which is always nice to get to see.

"He was fifty-two years old, his wife was forty-nine, and their twenty-three-year-old son was in business school in America. The move was going to be seen as an unnecessary display of his newly acquired wealth. And since the money had come from the onetime sale of a website, everyone in Mayur Palli treated it with suspicion. Nobody believed it was hard-earned money. 'A lucky windfall,' he had heard Mr. Gupta call it."

I really enjoyed this novel and everything it represented. All the characters fit perfectly into this read and I was able to move along it pretty quickly. It brings those questions up to light as to how it would affect ones life if they were placed in that situation, having to leave a place you've known for so long, people that have been around you through it all. Not only that, but what kind of a person one would become in a situation like that.

There was so much that went on in this novel, from Mr. Jha trying to fit in to a new lifestyle at all costs, while his wife tries in her own way to adjust to the idea of a life in wealth. Even though there were some things that set me off from these character's, it was all part of what made them who they were and why their internal struggle with their new surroundings affected them so much more. This included their son Rupak, with all he had going on also and his adjustment into a completely different home from the one he knew or would be coming back to.

"It was all his own fault, Rupak knew. He got to America soon after his parents became wealthy, and he immediately fell in love--not with Elizabeth, but with the whole country, and with the bank account that his father kept replenishing. He found himself falling into a version of what he thought life in America was meant to be."

Much of what went on, their lives in India, the different things they had to go through like Mrs. Ray who was a widow and trying to live her life without being looked down upon, kept me reading. Rupak also began to mature as he kept going through all of those different things in life. What seemed to get to me a lot though is how I didn't feel like Mr. Jha was trying to learn from his mistakes or finding a medium with his new life and his old one.

Even so, I read through this novel with ease. There were so many feels that I had, but the last part of this read had me wishing for a better ending. I know that much of it had to do with entering a new chapter in their life, that sadly would include having to compete with a "I have more than you" mentality. I understood though, why it had to be done that way and the sad truth that is part of the real world we live in. Still, I was hoping for a different outcome.

***I received this copy from Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.***
Profile Image for AJ.
51 reviews8 followers
August 9, 2017
You can also find this review at booksbestfriendblog.wordpress.com/201...

The Windfall is a nice, light book to read when you just need a break from more serious topics (like healthcare or the U.S. government in general). The story follows a family from East Delhi who find themselves suddenly wealthy after the father sells his website for millions of dollars. Now that they can afford to move into the upper class, Mr. Jha wastes no time finding a richer neighborhood that will suit his new Japanese sofa with Swarovski crystals. Mrs. Jha isn’t quite as changed by the their new status, and doesn’t see the need to leave the neighborhood they have lived in for decades.

While I enjoyed breezing through the descriptions of how Mr. Jha spends his newfound wealth in the universal game of keeping up with the Jones (or in his case, the Chopras), I preferred reading Mrs. Jha’s more down-to-earth reactions to his craziness. Parts of this reminded me of the Crazy Rich Asians series with how outrageous Mr. Jha’s spending became (it never reached CRA heights, sadly). The subplot with Mrs. Ray finding love again was charming, but didn’t connect well with the main story.

The one part of the story I didn’t like with the Jha’s son, Rupak. His total lack of accountability really bothered me, especially since he won’t acknowledge his own role in his failing grades. Instead he blames his parents new wealth for giving him no reason to study, or his parents disapproval of his film hobby. He makes no move to become independent despite passing judgement on how everyone else lives their lives. Rupak also uses his parents as an excuse to avoid commitment with his girlfriend Elizabeth while dating an Indian women he doesn’t love.

The Windfall provides a classic look at how money changes people for both the better and worse, and shows that sometimes it takes hitting bottom to remember what is really important in life.

I recommend this for fans of Crazy Rich Asians or those looking to escape into a light read this summer.
Profile Image for SueKich.
291 reviews20 followers
July 25, 2017

Minted in modern India.

The characters fairly leap off the page in this thoroughly engaging “keeping-up-with-the-Chopras” novel by Diksha Basu.

Mr & Mrs Jha have been content for decades living in their cramped flat in an East Delhi block that has seen better days. It’s the kind of place where people are in and out of each other’s front door and each other’s lives. When software engineer Mr Jha sells his start-up for an unexpectedly vast sum, he’s thrilled to bits to be going up in the world. But how’s he going to break it to the neighbours that they’re moving on?

Our Mr Jha is tickled pink with his new electronic shoe polishing machine until Mr Chopra - the flashy next-door neighbour in Gurgaon - spots it on the front seat of Mr Jha’s new Mercedes and pooh-poohs such a contraption. Mr Jha considers the idea of butlers: “a different sort of pleasure than having servants bringing you food and cleaning your home. Butlers showed that you had made the progression from servants to expensive appliances to uniformed men who ran the expensive appliances.”

Some interesting one-upmanship goes on between Mr Jha and Mr Chopra. They compete for the privilege of being the father of the most indolent son: in this way, they demonstrate to the neighbourhood that they are wealthy enough to support their grown-up offspring!

Mrs Jha is a different kettle of fish altogether. Recently retired from her worthwhile job, she’s uncomfortable with the move, worried about fitting in and concerned that their son Rupak (studying lackadaisically in the States) isn’t eating properly and also that he’ll fall for a pretty blonde American girl. (He isn’t and he does.) When they go to New York to visit, her husband takes her to Tiffany’s and this scene alone is worth the price of entry. How Mrs Jha longs to look like Audrey Hepburn!

This sharply observed ‘comedy of manners’ really is a delight. I believe it may be Diksha Basu’s first novel – if so, it’s a confident debut. She has produced a perfectly poised narrative where the humour is counter-balanced by the book’s serious social and cultural points, and she has peopled it with some appealing (and some not-so-appealing) characters. Admittedly, one or two may be a little broad stroke and one or two scenes a bit over the top but even so there was an underlying subtlety of purpose and development throughout. Don’t let the flippancy of the front cover typography put you off: this may be an easy read - but it's a good one.
Profile Image for Tuti.
454 reviews47 followers
February 22, 2019
excellent! intelligent, subtle and fun to read. great story about the jha’s, a lower middle class family in india who becomes rich after the husband sells a website he has constructed for a multi million dollar sum which catapults them overnight into another world. they buy a large house in the rich part of the city, a designer sofa encrusted with swarowsky cristals and start encountering a whole new set of problems which leave them missing the old ones.
mr. chopra, the new neighbour, becomes the most important reference and source of worry for mr. jha, who is unsure of his values and often humiliated in these new soroundings. the next generation is also depicted, rupak, the son of the jha‘s, who is studying in america for his mba, almost at cornell, but not quite - and failing; and johnny, the son of the chopra‘s, who has a literature degree from england and is spending his time drinking at the club. mrs. ray, a widowed friend of the family, finds unexpected love and a sort of a happy ending seems possible for everybody, even though things are quite different from what they imagined.
i found this a fascinating read, with an important subject - moving somehow upwards, to a new country or to the rich part of the city, and having to adjust with a whole new set of problems, in no way easier or „better“ than the old ones. highly recommended!
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