No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal [in Library Journal]
Rakesh Satyal (Blue Boy) brings together two couldn’t-be-more-different Indian Americans for friendship, fun, and more (no, not like that). Harit, a department store salesman, has recently lost his sister; his mother, catatonic with grief, only reacts when Harit dons a sari and channels his dead sibling. Ranjana seems better-adjusted, but the gulf in her arranged marriage widens when her only child goes to college; her single true fulfillment is writing vampire romances that she’d never share with her family. The unlikely pair finally meet over a fancy meal and bond over the gooey challenge of eating French onion soup. Uncomfortable gatherings, a road trip à quatre, and unexpected happy beginnings await.
Narrator Amol Shah is well-cast here, moving easily between awkward Harit and unsettled Ranjana, as well as a diverse supporting cast with distinct accents and cadences, including aging sophisticate Teddy (Harit’s sales colleague); lost Achyut (Ranjana’s “good gay friend”); searching Prashant (Ranjana’s son); morphing Parvati (Harit’s mother), who is so markedly different before and after her motherhood; garrulous Cheryl (Ranjana’s coreceptionist); and many others.
Verdict: What might meander on the page becomes more enlivening fodder for Shah. Libraries will want to enable listening in.