Book Club

The After Party – Books and Bagels – March 2017

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Books and Bagels Discussion on The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

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Rating: The Golden Son received ratings between 3.5 and 5.0 with an average rating of 4.02.  This is a very high average for this club.

Review:  Members thoroughly enjoyed this novel and it was very favorably received.  They loved Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s extensive research about the education of medical doctors in the United States and the challenges presented.  Members enjoyed the author’s exploration of the panchayat system, an Indian tradition of settling disputes within a community.  Members are life-long learners and view discovery into novels with historical and cultural perspectives from other countries as an exciting quest.  They found the panchayat system intriguing and they appreciated Gowda’s coverage.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Members appreciated the exploration of internships and residency in the medical profession. It was interesting to see the evolution of a trained physician.
  • Members were interested in arranged marriages, dowry, and bride burning discussed within the novel.
  • Members liked Gowda’s use of metaphors such as; the dispute of the mango tree and the clay as a metaphor for life.
  • Members really liked the vignettes presented throughout the novel showing the panchayat system and the arbitration process.
  • Many members’ only negative comments were about the ending.
  • Several members found the ending to be contrived, but not completely like a Hollywood ending.  It was more realistic that one of the main characters, Anil, did not end up with the other main character, Leena.
  • A few members thought the ending needed to be tighter.
  • Members found this to be an easy, enjoyable read without many literary devices and sometimes this is a nice break.  They enjoyed the dialogue between characters and found it to be realistic.
  • Three members had read Gowda’s first novel, Secret Daughter, and they commented that her second novel The Golden Son contained an improved writing style.

Resources:

Read Gowda’s inspiration for The Golden Son:
http://www.shilpigowda.com/tgs-behind-the-book/

Gowda is interviewed by Liza Fromer about The Golden Son:

Read-a-Likes:

Book Club, RA Programs

The After Party – Morning Book Break – Feb. 2017

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Morning Book Break Discussion on Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Rating: Secret Daughter received ratings between 3.5 and 5.0 with an average rating of 4.06.

Review: Most members were delighted to read a book for club that they really enjoyed. The last three books for club, while interesting, informative, and producing lively discussion, did not generate as much favor as Secret Daughter. Members enjoyed an excellent, easy read. Many members have established life-long learning as a core value, so they felt they benefited from the historical and cultural perspective the novel offered.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Members like Gowda’s style of writing. They liked her use of descriptive language and felt they were transported to both the slums of Mumbai and the lavish, elite neighborhoods of Mumbai. Gowda uses effective sensory language.
  • Most members felt the dual-narration was easy to follow, a few members stated this is definitely not their prefer style of storytelling.
  • Members enjoyed learning about Indian culture.
  • One member listened to the audiobook and highly recommends it, she loved the accents.
  • Several members simply could not put the book down and they read the book in one day. One member stated, “I enjoyed every page.”
  • Members thought Asha, Somer, Kavita and the other women in the novel were fully-fleshed out characters. The members thought the male characters needed further development, particularly Vijay.
  • The members gave their opinions on the main underlying theme the author tried to address: “How much of our life is destined for us—by our gender, our economic class, or the culture we’re born into? How much is within our power to change?” (p.2 paperback edition—The Story Behind The Book—A+ Author Insights, Extras, & More…)
  • Dialogue also included conversations about many weighty topics:
    • Adoption
    • Infertility
    • Motherhood/Women’s roles
    • Gender inequality in other countries/Female infanticide
    • Identity/Belonging Issues
    • Nature/Nurture Debate
    • Migration/Immigration/Assimilation
    • Cultural differences between US and India
    • Relaxation techniques/Yoga/Meditation

Resources:

Read-a-Likes:

Further explore the Mumbai slums
by reading the narrative nonfiction,
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope
in a Mumbai Undercity
by Katherine Boo.
The Pulitzer Prize winning author,
after three-years of research and investigation,
tells a moving story of triumph and tragedy.