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No One Can Pronounce My Name
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Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
This is the thread for the discussion of No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal.

The book discussion will begin on April 1st.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
I just picked up my copy of NOCPMN today. The book is broken up into 3 parts. What do you think about this schedule:

April 1-3 * Gen’l comments about the author, setting, interviews, etc

April 4-9 * Part 1

April 10-15 * Part 2

April 16 * entire book open!


message 3: by Mocha Girl (new)

Mocha Girl (mochagirl) | 211 comments I ordered my book via an Amazon third-party reseller - it's shipped, but I haven't received it yet. The schedule is fine with me, I'll just have to catch up when I receive my book.


Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments I'm also good with the timing. My library book will be in this week. Thanks for putting together such a nice schedule.

I'm OK with waiting until everyone has the book in hand. Unless it's a problem for you, Columbus?


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Ella wrote: "I'm also good with the timing. My library book will be in this week. Thanks for putting together such a nice schedule.

I'm OK with waiting until everyone has the book in hand. Unless it's a probl..."


No, not at all. I’m totally flexible with it and I’ll alter the schedule once everyone has it available.


Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments Great. I just had that thing where the library suddenly has almost every book I've ever requested at once, so I've got plenty to do between now and whenever we start. Looking forward to this one though, so just shout whenever we start. Thanks all - ella


message 7: by Mocha Girl (new)

Mocha Girl (mochagirl) | 211 comments I received my book today!


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Ok, then we can keep the same schedule since we all have the book. Gen’l comments thru the 3rd and then Part One of the book discussed on the 4th.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Just curious. Has anyone read his book Blue Boy? I looked him up and he’s one hilarious guy. He has a wonderful voice, perfect for the stage. He knows most if not all the Hamilton score and even does a cabaret set at book events. You talk about someone living life to the fullest!


message 10: by Mocha Girl (new)

Mocha Girl (mochagirl) | 211 comments I haven't read it, but added to TBR list. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.


message 11: by jo (new) - added it

jo | 1031 comments Columbus wrote: "Just curious. Has anyone read his book Blue Boy? I looked him up and he’s one hilarious guy. He has a wonderful voice, perfect for the stage. He knows most if not all the Hamilton sc..."

I’ve read Blue Boy more than once. I love it! It’s perfect.


message 12: by Ella (last edited Mar 30, 2018 10:33AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments Honestly, and I don't know why, I just assumed this was his first book, so no - haven't read Boy Blue, but I will be seeking out some videos - sounds like fun.

Hilarious: https://youtu.be/0CVQboLxSZ4


message 13: by Mle (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mle | 8 comments Just finished my last book and am now ready to start on this one. Very excited for the book and the Buddy Read format.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
jo wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Just curious. Has anyone read his book Blue Boy? I looked him up and he’s one hilarious guy. He has a wonderful voice, perfect for the stage. He knows most if not al..."

That’s great to know, jo. Have you read this one as well or not?


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Mle wrote: "Just finished my last book and am now ready to start on this one. Very excited for the book and the Buddy Read format."

Glad you’ll be joining inwith us. I just finished the book I was reading yesterday and picked this one up late last night. We’ll start the actual discussion on the 4th. Looking forward to it.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Reminder: we’re not beholden to this schedule at all. We can be flexible depending on how fast or slow we’re all reading. Just so you know.


Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
I got my book from the library and this will be my first time reading the author.

Looking forward to reading and the discussion.


message 18: by jo (new) - added it

jo | 1031 comments Columbus wrote: "jo wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Just curious. Has anyone read his book Blue Boy? I looked him up and he’s one hilarious guy. He has a wonderful voice, perfect for the stage. He knows mos..."

Not yet!


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Ok, let’s discuss the book. What’s your thoughts on it so far? You enjoying his writing? The story? Like 100 pages in I realized I had not read a “fiction” book with primarily Indian characters ever. Not that I can think of. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity felt like fiction but of course it was not.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
I’m one of those that check reviews (esp friends reviews) and ratings and thus I checked both for this book. 3.70 stars is rather so-so for a book I had expected to see a little higher. Three of my friends read it and they all reviewed it; a 5, 4 and 3 were the ratings given, so basically 4 stars. Not a high enough tally to base anything on, however. A 3.89 is usually around the mark where I would say a book as rather exceptional. So, quite surprised by this rather lowish mark.

This book started off engaging but not exactly what i expected if I can be honest. Part of this is my fault. I guess i was expecting a pov strictly on Harti’s character with possibly a first person narration and that’s obviously not what we have here. I based this one information ascertained earlier probably around the time the book was first released. So, once I got over my blunder the book picked up for me.

I’m enjoying the humorous parts of this book. It so reminds me of Rakesh Satyal, the person, and his funny gregarious self. I guess I should’ve expected that. Have you seen him on Seth Meyers? He’s a riot!


message 21: by Ella (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments I read a lot of Indian fiction, I just realized after reading your message last night, Columbus. I didn't want to answer before checking to make sure, but it turns out I read a fair amount of it (and Nigerian, but anyway.)

I'll admit, I was surprised this book didn't get the buzz I expected it to get. He's so personable, and the book has a great cover & title (often that's all it takes.) I think what may put people off is that it seems almost like it'll be a funny first person memoir-ish type of book, before you start reading. Something about it just seems that way to me, dunno why though. If other people think that, then we all read a book that's slightly different than we expect...

Anyway, I'm enjoying it, and some of it is very funny. I really hunkered down last night with it and laughed aloud a few times. It's just not exactly what I expected. This is insane, since I had no real reason to expect anything. Maybe I decided in my head before I read about it?


Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
I have finished reading up through Part One last night.
Still not sure what I think about the book - I am a little curious about the storylines of some of the characters but do not necessarily anxious to keep reading.

This is my first time reading this author and while I recognize the book title, the author's name is not familiar to me.
The first time reading an author, sometimes it takes a little while to find my reading rhythm and not sure if I have found it yet.

I am glad that I am "reading" the book and not doing this as an audio book, as I often found as I was reading about one character and getting into their storyline, I found when the another character is introduced or whose storyline is picked up again that the transition was just a little jarring.

I like that the characters are multi-generational and that we are looking at issues across different age groups and genders.

I will admit my least favorite character is Prashant which is just me, not a fan of college-age characters (just getting too old to care about college antics) which is giving the book a YA feel.
I do perk up when reading of the other characters.

I have read many fiction books with Indian characters (and immigrant storylines).


message 23: by Mle (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mle | 8 comments I am enjoying this book— the character development and the multi generational aspect another mentioned. I was however disappointed by the relatively short shrift Harit’s mother received. Maybe she will get more attention later, but her origins had so much potential and depth that I really noticed the comparative dearth of information we got about her.
I was also intrigued by the thread that seems to link the characters-a lack of connection to the larger Indian immigrant community. The secondary characters who are linked in to this group that we meet (Kavita, Seema) seem to all have that perkie extroverted personality type. I’m wondering if that’s intended to highlight the difference between them and our main characters or just lazy writing.


message 24: by ColumbusReads (last edited Apr 04, 2018 01:41PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
I’d be curious to know what other books you all have read with predominately Indian characters and how this one compares to them.

I’m also curious as to how these friendships and connections will develop. I don’t mind character-driven over plot-driven narratives but I want them to move. Get your point across, what do you have to say, talk to me. The Harit/ Teddy storyline is rather slow to develop. I’m enjoying more the Ranjanna, Mohan, Achyut development. But, what exactly is the relationship with Ranjanna and Achyut. Ranjanna said, the true purpose of the friendship between her and Achyut was to “mother and mend him.” I’m just a little flummoxed by that to be honest. It’s not making much sense to me. Maybe it will become clearer later. I am glad that Ranjanna and Harit has finally met since the book jacket pretty much states their friendship is the gist of the story.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
And another thing. Goodness I didn’t realize I had so much to say about this.

There seems to be a fine line between some of these characters “fitting in” and then others assimilating into the dominant culture. Certain things are quite small and minute but other things seem to be rather indistinguishable from the dominant group.


message 26: by Ella (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments I have lots of responses, but I don't have the time right now to type them out (lunch break, but I have to work.)

Just wanted to quickly check in, say I am reading - I just finished up to the end of part one as well - and work is a bit nuts this week. I'll try to get back tonight or tomorrow at latest.

Early on, in some ways this reminded me of The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi, a book I read in the late 80s or early 90s (whenever the American edition was published). I think he's funny in the same way as Kureishi - maybe b/c the authors/characters have similarities (BTW, the GR synopsis of Buddha is awful.) Funny, I've never been able to give away my paperback copy, but I also was afraid to reread it b/c I loved that book. Then Zadie Smith wrote that it holds up well as a reread, and b/c I trust Zadie with my life, I'm planning on a reread soon.

I will come back later & respond more fully, but here's a link to a site I read fairly often (which may be why I read a lot of Indian authors) http://theasianwriter.co.uk/ -- I notice they have the list of books to read in 2018 link, and I have a few of those titles sitting right here checked out or purchased in my TBR pile. I'll note authors/books I like a lot later too. See you all ASAP.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Beverly, I’m really with you about how jarring it is to read when he switches characters here. I’m finding that a bit of an issue with me as well. I am enjoying the book more as I’m now in Part 2 (which we’ll start discussing in a couple of days). But what do you all think about his style of writing? I have an opinion on this but I would like to hear your thoughts first.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Discussion Parts 1 & 2


message 29: by Ella (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments Sorry to keep disappearing all. Physical issues are affecting my computer use. Trying to figure out how to deal with it until I can replace my huge laptop with something truly portable. Until then I'm in and out as I can take it.

It was delusional when I first found the book a reminder of Buddha of Suburbia (Turns out it was really only the very beginning, and I could've been feverish.)

There is something...odd about this read for me. Something is holding me back. I am pretty good at just falling into a book, even a bad book. It feels like a wall is up between me and this one. I'd like to give the author credit for doing that on purpose to symbolize the many metaphorical walls, but I don't know that it's purposeful.

I think this book would benefit from a good audio edition. Audio can cover flaws that the page exposes. I'm not having trouble between characters, but I am with the authenticity of the various voices. At times it feels like they are trying to prove their ethnicity to me. I don't think people constantly think "I am Punjabi, therefore I must eat Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani every day." (This reminds me of the quote about "Your Asian characters never notice their slanted eyes when they look in the mirror..." These characters absolutely would notice.) Trying too hard at times, perhaps? It's not consistent, and it's not awful, but I find it jarring.

One thing I find very satisfying is an immigrant story that doesn't feature a younger person railing against her parents in the everlasting struggle between generations of immigrants. While that's a worthwhile and universal story, it's been done very well, and it's nice to read about older immigrants, who have their own struggles and feel somehow more awkward than teenagers. Harit feels the most stuck of the characters I've met thus far, but they are all stuck in their own ways. He seems to be choosing his stuck-ness in some ways though.

I stopped after part one (to catch up with my other book club) but I want more about the mother. I would very much like to be inside her head. Maybe we'll go there.

Before I go on about each character - Columbus --> I made a little list of authors I've read in the last year or so from South Asia or at least born in/write about/descended from...

Not all are recent books, but just ones I've read recently - in no particular order beyond the order in which them. Also, I feel sure you have read more Indian authors than you realize - some very big names on my little list, and all are published in the West, many are US or UK based:

Aisha Saeed (co-founder of "We Need Diverse Books"), R.K. Narayan, Raj Kamal Jha, Hanif Kureishi, Rohinton Mistry, Vikram Seth, Tahmima Anam, Shilpi Somaya Gowda, Ayad Akhtar, V.S. Naipaul, Shashi Tharoor, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Aravind Adiga, Anita Desai.

Then there are others I've not read recently: Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul, Khushwant Singh, Monica Ali, Thrity Umrigar, Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, Rupi Kaur, Agha Shahid Ali, Amitav Ghosh, R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand...

I'm sure there are more, but a quick look-see at my shelves gives me this list. I know there are a fair number of current celebrated YA authors from India these days too.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Ella wrote: "Sorry to keep disappearing all. Physical issues are affecting my computer use. Trying to figure out how to deal with it until I can replace my huge laptop with something truly portable. Until then ..."

Thanks, Ella. You grasped some of things I was alluding to about his style of writing and I will delve further into that later.

Thanks for listing that group of writers. I have so many of these authors books on my TBR but the only one I’ve actually read is Aravind Adiga. I read Last Man in Tower and The White Tiger. I need to do better.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Ella wrote: "Sorry to keep disappearing all. Physical issues are affecting my computer use. Trying to figure out how to deal with it until I can replace my huge laptop with something truly portable. Until then ..."

...and I know what you mean. You read and want to respond and comment about what you read but life issues get you bogged down. Same here.


Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
I have finished Part Two and the issues/characters that were introduced in Part One came together in a more cohesive manner for me.

Favorite character is still Ranjana and I am more engaged in the storyline when she is involved.

The writing has a restrained feel to it - I am not necessarily emotionally involved in the story. At times I feel like there is a tension to the storyline and the author is keeping us in suspense and that it is building up to a big reveal.

I like how the author is revealing the inner thoughts of the characters against the "stereotyped" images that others have about the characters and also how the characters internalize these "stereotyped" images.


Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
Columbus has earlier commented: There seems to be a fine line between some of these characters “fitting in” and then others assimilating into the dominant culture. Certain things are quite small and minute but other things seem to be rather indistinguishable from the dominant group.

While I think this is a concern for any group that is outside of the dominant culture, I definitely think this is a theme of this book.

We all have many identities and how each one fits with our identities of ourselves and how we fit in with others, cultural and society expectations, then there is what is our public face vs private face based on the identities we have formed and what our goals are.

One of the reasons that Ranjana is my favorite characters is that I like her flexibility. She seems to be aware of her various identities and through observation has learned how to still be herself yet get what she wants.


Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
As for Indian writers/books that I have read, here are a couple of books that I have read fairly recently.
I tend to like books that some historical bent to the storylines.

The Windfall by Diksha Basu

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee - the first book in a historical mystery series

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy - I definitely appreciate this book more as I think about and discuss it than my first reaction after reading - many complexities/history that have stuck with me

I Am an Executioner: Love Stories by Rajesh Parameswaran


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "As for Indian writers/books that I have read, here are a couple of books that I have read fairly recently.
I tend to like books that some historical bent to the storylines.

[book:The Windfall|3256..."


Whoa, you all have clearly read more than I have. What did you think of A RISING MAN? The premise of that one looks so enticing. Have you read anything else by him?


message 36: by ColumbusReads (last edited Apr 13, 2018 08:28AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Beverly wrote: "As for Indian writers/books that I have read, here are a couple of books that I have read fairly recently.
I tend to like books that some historical bent to the storylines.

T..."</I>

Ooh, just checked, it’s the f/u to that one, [book:A Necessary Evil
I thought was so enticing and heard a lot of good things about.



Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Beverly wrote: "As for Indian writers/books that I have read, here are a couple of books that I have read fairly recently.
I tend to like books that some historical bent to the storylines.

[book:T..."


I will be reading the second book in the mystery series - really enjoying the history/cultural aspects.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
There’s a lot of things I can say about this book both positive and some not so positive. The one not so positive is it really shouldn’t take me this long to finish this type of book. I can say I’m not that anxious to pick it up even with less than 30 pages to go.


message 39: by Ella (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments I finally finished this book. I too had a very slow time of it. I had to make myself pick it up. Then every time I did, embarrassingly, I fell asleep with my face in the pages. Finally I forced myself to just push through upon waking up. It wasn't that I didn't like it. I just didn't feel a huge investment. I can't blame the book alone - life has been getting in the way of many things, not least of all reading.

Now that I've finished it, I agree - Ranjana made me laugh, felt realistic and "real" too, like I could hang out with her. (I dunno if she'd feel that way about me. I wonder what she'd say...)

The discomfort I felt may actually have been the characters. With the exception of Ranjana, they felt uncomfortable in so many spaces, even within their own homes, and I think maybe that had me hunting down reasons other than the characters themselves. If that makes any sense.

All that said, I still am not entirely sure how I feel about this one. I don't know if I missed something obvious or more likely something subtle, but I felt disconnected. I do now, actually, this the disconnection has to do with the disconnection the characters felt with their surroundings, their personal lives, their new homeland, their circle of friends...

What I found most interesting is that in the many YA immigration stories, the children often feel guilt and other complex feelings about their parents rather than the new country. In this story we got many of the same feelings but all within the characters themselves - not railing against an older generation (for the most part) about becoming American. The characters were wrestling with themselves. And it brought a nice new light to many emotions and situations that remain unspoken in some of the other kind of story.

I'm glad to have read it, and perhaps once I get a week or so to think about it and let it settle, I'll know more realistically how I feel.

I hope this makes sense. I am sitting too far away to see what I've typed. I'll come back later to reread and edit, but I didn't want to let today get away from me.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
We can open the book now to discuss the entire book. I just finished it myself. Let me know if anyone has an issue with that.


Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
It was also slow going for me, but I have now finished.

One of the themes I think is about social interactions between people and how each interaction negative or positive can be stored within you to ponder later to help you form your unique identity to be a better you. And you in turn can also use your experiences to help others even though they may not have the same experiences as as they in turn develop their own unique person/goals.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Beverly/Ella, I also agree that Ranjana really ended up being the shining star in this book. Which is strange because all the early Stories I read were about Harit wearing the sari for his mother in helping his mothers grief.

I thought Cheryl was hilarious and that whole episode with revealing her cancer to the novelist was just insane.


message 43: by Ella (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments I keep wondering why this book didn't do more for me. Did anyone else have this experience? There is nothing obviously wrong with it, but when I try to imagine who I might recommend this book to, I can't imagine who that might be. I guess that's sort of my final take - there wasn't enough of something for me, but I don't know what that might be.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Ella, those are exactly my sentiments as well. I turned the last page and my thoughts were that the author got his point across on several things and he’s obviously a good writer. It’s not a book that I loved at all or really cared deeply about the characters. I’m also not eager to pick up another book by this author like I’ve been with many others. It certainly wasn’t a bad book but just a decent one. It’s not at all the book I expected it to be.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3702 comments Mod
Quite frankly, and if I’m to be honest, I was expecting more of the LGBTQ aspect of this book to come out - - no pun intended. That’s the primary reason I wanted to read it. It was what I was looking for at the moment. From all the reviews and blurs I read, the emphasis was on Harit, his sexuality and his dressing up in the sari for his mum. But, it wasn’tuntil 85% of the way into this book that his sexuality was even revealed or at least played a role in the book. I just thought that was an error in the marketing of this book.

While Costa book winner Days Without End by Sebastian Barry was strongly criticized for playing down the gay theme on its book jacket and for publicity, this book went the other route and touted the gay storyline. Who would’ve thought!


Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
Ella/Columbus - I have the same sentiments after reading the book.
I only finished the book because I had committed to read with you, but if was reading on my own, I probably would have put it down.

If I cannot put my finger on why a book is not working for me, I just put it down that the author's writing style is just not my cup of tea.

And with this author I doubt that I would pick up another of his books.


Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Quite frankly, and if I’m to be honest, I was expecting more of the LGBTQ aspect of this book to come out - - no pun intended. That’s the primary reason I wanted to read it. It was what I was looki..."

Ha! Book blurbs - sometimes they are spot are and sometimes I wonder if the book blurb is related to the book I just read.


message 48: by Ella (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments More and more often I feel like book marketing works against the books they are supposed to serve. I can't even begin to list the books I've liked that others have hated or vice versa, and often the readers like or dislike based on expectations. Readers pick up books for loads of reasons, and we certainly have a multitude of choices, but duping a reader or a group of readers into a book seems like a good way to disappoint readers and probably lower the "like" of your product.

That wasn't totally the case for me and this book, per se, but it's something I notice more and more (the constant comparison to other writers always seems to work against the book being advertised. "If you liked Harry Potter, you'll love 'woman who sits on a fence!" A strange way to "sell" books.) Lately most of the books I've liked have been books I've walked into pretty blind. Not sure what that says about me.

Anyway, I'm not upset or angry that I read this. I didn't hate it. It just didn't resonate, and I do think part of that was my expectation - which was totally based on the blurbs for the book. I'm not sure how else to pick new books though. Anyway, thanks for the read, and I am glad I read this with you guys or I might have decided I was just being stupid with this one. I'm sometimes pretty sure I'm just dense when everyone else loves something, or the reviews lead me to believe that is the case...


message 49: by jo (new) - added it

jo | 1031 comments i won't read the thread cuz i am at the beginning of this book, but i DELIGHT in satyal's writing. just delight. so precise and effective and lovely. he owns the narrative language. do others feel this way? (sorry if you already addressed it)


Beverly | 2871 comments Mod
jo wrote: "i won't read the thread cuz i am at the beginning of this book, but i DELIGHT in satyal's writing. just delight. so precise and effective and lovely. he owns the narrative language. do others feel ..."

Hi Jo -

Yes, we did discuss the writing in some of the threads above.
I do not want to spoil your reading experience for you as we discussed the writing, with the storytelling and how it affected our overall reading experience.

I would say that I found that I found your statement about the writing style reflected my feelings at the beginning of the book.

I did have a favorite character that was the main reason that kept me reading to the end.


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