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Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me

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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  936 ratings  ·  175 reviews
A bittersweet and humorous memoir of family—of the silence and ignorance that separate us, and the blood and stories that connect us—from an award-winning New York Times writer and comedian.

Approaching his 30th birthday, Sopan Deb had found comfort in his day job as a writer for the New York Times and a practicing comedian. But his stage material highlighting his South Asi
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 21st 2020 by Dey Street Books
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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Sopan Deb
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I am a bit biased on this, given that I wrote the book. But my hope is that there is something in this memoir for everyone. It’s a story about family, comedy, healing, forgiveness and so much more. It’s an immigrant story. A South Asian story. (Not THE South Asian story, mind you. Just one of many from the South Asian diaspora in America.) I also hope that readers find the story timely, as what we think of as the American Dream is constantly being debated today. My parents didn’t get to experien ...more
Kiran Bhat
I was conflicted as to what star rating I should give to Sopan Deb's very Indian-American memoir. One thing which certainly elevated this book for me was the fact that beyond an autobiography of Deb's life as a journalist and ABCD, it was fundamentally a book about Deb's relationship with his father, and the insights that the book gave about father-son intercultural conflict were quite fresh, and unique. There were parts of the book which I felt really explained the reasons why parents believe i ...more
Ashendri
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i can easily say that this is one of the best books i’ve read this year. i’m so happy that it came my way because i don’t think my relationship with my parents will be the same after this—i’m determined for it not to be! sopan’s writing is equally poignant as it is hopeful because he artfully takes on the role of a journalist while balancing his own vulnerability. getting your (brown) parents to open up to you is a talent and this level of emotional outpouring was so hard to read.

it’s not just
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Erica Deb
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure, I have more than a vested interest in this book, but looking beyond that, it was a truly moving read. How often do we stop and look at our lives thinking, how did I get here? What am I doing? Why am I like this? So much of our lives are the result of the choices we make, and the situations in which we find ourselves. This is a story about an adult, seeing his parents as adults for possibly the first time. His parents had long, complicated lives before he entered the picture, and ...more
Emma
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read “Missed Translations” in the week leading up to Christmas—the first one I’ve spent without family, which has me thinking about my family relationships and how they affect the holidays.

It was a poignant time to read Sopan’s treatise on his own family, one fractured by trauma that left its four corners well out of touch with one another. His story of reestablishing family relationships is deeply moving, funny, and not in the least straightforward. It is complex and incomplete, but that is
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Miri
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Padmaja
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t typically write reviews in general, but I was so moved by this book, that I felt compelled to do so. The author is so brave in opening up and sharing his story which is clearly painful at times. He is a gifted storyteller with a great sense of humor. This book is a poignant reminder that human connection is the greatest gift of all and that it is always worth it to put yourself out there for that connection. I dragged this book out as long as I could and am sad to put it away. It will st ...more
Kathy
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review, memoir
While the writing style is brisk and witty, it doesn't take away from the serious topic. Plus Sopan Deb is so earnest and doesn't shy away from taking blame that it makes for a charmer of a memoir. ...more
Mala Ashok
I was looking forward to reading this book because I, like Sopan's parents, grew up in Kolkata and am their age group and had a similar upbringing. But, that's where the similarity ends. The Deb family has been dysfunctional and as I see it not necessarily because of their Indianness. I would hate non-Brown readers to think this is the reality of all Indian immigrant and the experience of children of Indian immigrants growing up in America. Sopan Deb has chronicled his life well and with a certa ...more
Sahil Pradhan
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For every person of colour reading this book, here is a blanket you can use again and again until it wears out and yet feel the warmth seeping out of the tattered edges. Missed Translations made me see the POC viewpoint in a better light. Sopan Deb has made this memoir intensely personal and intimately emotional, a craft I did not expect from an Indian-American author. Sopan starts the book with the numerous strands of fate that made the circumstances such that he had to visit India, thanks to h ...more
Hitha
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The South Asian experience has been preserved in a stereotype in the books published and the shows launched in the past 5 years. And while I'm just grateful that our stories are finally being told in mainstream American culture, it's something that's unsettled me as more and more art is being published.
Two incredible works have shaken the model minority South Asian stereotype. The first was Hasan Minhaj's excellent one-man show, Homecoming King. The second is Missed Translations.
Sopan Deb's memo
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Mridu  aka Storypals
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This was heartwarming and tragic.

I could/ would have related more if I was an Immigrant or someone who lived in the US.
C.J.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Although I devoured this book, it left me with a lot to chew on. (I will now cease food-related metaphors.) The author’s voice is endearing — reflective, funny, and above all earnest. Following along as the author learns so much about his family (one very dissimilar from my own!) and by extension himself is bittersweet and complicated. I highly recommend it.
Tehreem Abedi
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not have enough words to describe this book except I could not put it down! It is very well written and really hones in on a range of emotions from making the reader cry to laughing out loud. It is a very personal story and I commend the author for sharing it in such great detail. A must read!
Preeti
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant. Review coming soon.
Samarth Gupta
"Missed Translations" is one of the most powerful and intimate books I’ve read.

Reading it, I felt seen and represented in a way I don’t think I ever have before. I’m so grateful he took the time to tell his story with eloquence and humor.
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“ I had spent much of my life running away from my skin color and culture, and yet the thing I felt most comfortable discussing onstage was my South Asian ethnicity. Talking about any version of the brown experience felt cathartic, whether it wa
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Marlana
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Won this arc on goodreads. I loved it..The story of how his family came to the United States from India is amazing. From his mom's struggles to support her mom and brother, to his dad coming to find "the American dream", I loved reading about Sopan's parents stories. Meeting the extended family in India was so interesting. I would love to go visit myself now and meet these people and see all the touristy places described in this book..Great story! ...more
Sanjida
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure whether I needed another brown immigrant narrative, but I really enjoyed and appreciated this one. He talks about secrets and mental health and bad parenting, all the stuff our families didn't want to talk about. ...more
Kristen Trofa
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A touching story about self discovery and how it is never too late to try to build a relationship with your family that also manages to be very funny!
Ang
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was immediately drawn to this book because I truly love reading about anything Kolkata related - I'm biased! From the get-go, I just felt that familiar feeling in the way Sopan wrote. It's relatable, it's painful, it's angry, it's full of heartache. Who hasn't experienced this at some point in our lives? He knew how to articulate and put it into words. As the story continued, I felt like I was right there with him, meeting his Dad and his Mom. I felt like I was experiencing all the pent-up awk ...more
G
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ground
This is a very good story in a book that, unfortunately, needed more time to gestate. Deb's voice is very appealing — conversational, almost too much so (it might work better as an audio book, weirdly). But structurally and tonally it doesn't work, with too many questions answered in a fast aside, and too much minutiae overly examined. More distance from the material — and better editing — would have helped. ...more
Samarth Bhaskar
A heartfelt, emotional, memoir that doesn't shy away from some of the most difficult aspects of growing up in a South Asian family. And one that champions an emotion we don't hear enough about in the world today: forgiveness. ...more
Laura Donovan
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Memoirs are my favorite books to read, so I was excited to add this one to my list when I saw the publishing announcement last year. A relative once told me she has conflicting feelings about memoirs because they often throw the writer's family under the bus. This is the first memoir I've ever read in which the author gives the major players in his story a chance to share their side, and it is so powerful.

Sopan Deb starts the book by explaining he had an unhappy childhood living with two parent
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Kathy
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful. Deb is so very honest, earnest and brave in this memoir. In meeting his parents as an adult with an open heart and mind, he comes away with a full heart and engaged, compassionate mind. Of course, families are complex and as children we don’t see our parents as who they are but rather what they do for and to us. With the steady support of Wesley, his fiancée, Deb moves beyond the transactional into something transformational. He reconnects with his family and his roots and works towar ...more
Daphne Assimakopoulos
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Bittersweet is definitely the word here - this memoir is honest, moving, funny, and heart breaking all at once. This one really struck a cord. It’s a reminder that our parents are their own people too, living their lives in a completely different context from our own. I really admire Sopan’s willingness to push himself to learn more about his parents, confront uncomfortable truths, and ultimately heal for himself and his family. I came to this with my own challenging relationships, and it’s push ...more
Jared Weiss
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a book I was highly anticipating and it did not disappoint. The premise hooked me in and it delivered with a compelling story that built up smoothly. When you come into the story, you know where it's going about halfway and then are in the dark as to where it goes from there. It could have gone many directions, but both the reality of the story and the reflections of the author walked a satisfying and interesting path. ...more
Ashwin Narla
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I simply loved this book. As a South Asian American, this story speaks to a larger theme of growing up in a country where you are forced to balance two cultures. Navigating this cultural dynamic can be extremely hard, and as in Sopan’s case, is exponentially harder when you’re dealing with family dynamics beyond your control. That’s where I think this story truly shines. Yes, this story is about growing up in an immigrant household but it’s also a story of maturity by finding a way to establish ...more
Jishnu Nair
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was a personal and emotional read for me, as I too was raised a child of the Indian diaspora and struggled to communicate how that affected me with my parents. However, I will argue that no matter who you are and how you grew up, you will find something a way to connect to Sopan's experience. Missed Translations is a story on every kind of family, from the immediate relatives to the distant ones, as well as the family that we choose for ourselves. It is also story on the lines between ...more
Arushi
I picked this book on a whim, and had no expectations from it. In fact, I really don't know why I chose to read this, but I am very glad I did. These past few months, I have been living with my parents, and it has been a very frustrating experience at times. Reading this book, I felt like the author voiced each one of my frustrations about Indian culture and parents, and families, and relationships. How we love our family only because we are related, and we barely know them as people. The lack o ...more
Fatima Moosa
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic and heartbreaking read.
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