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An Indian-American magical realist coming of age story, spanning two continents, two coasts, and four epochs, in razor sharp and deeply funny prose, Sathian captures what it is to grow up as a member of a family, of a diaspora, and of the American meritocracy. A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is authentic, fun An Indian-American magical realist coming of age story, spanning two continents, two coasts, and four epochs, in razor sharp and deeply funny prose, Sathian captures what it is to grow up as a member of a family, of a diaspora, and of the American meritocracy. A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is authentic, funny, and smart. He just doesn't share the same drive as everyone around him. His perfect older sister is headed to Duke. His parents' expectations for him are just as high. He tries to want this version of success, but mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal. But Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewelry's original owner. Anjali's own mother in Bombay didn't waste the precious potion on her daughter, favoring her sons instead. Anita, on the other hand, just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. But when Neil--who needs a whole lot more--joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart. Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned Berkeley history grad student studying the California gold rush. His high school cohort has migrated to Silicon Valley, where he reunites with Anita and resurrects their old habit of gold theft--only now, the stakes are higher. Anita's mother is in trouble, and only gold can save her. Anita and Neil must pull off one last heist. Gold Diggers is a fine-grained, profoundly intelligent, and bitingly funny investigation in to questions of identity and coming of age--that tears down American shibboleths.


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An Indian-American magical realist coming of age story, spanning two continents, two coasts, and four epochs, in razor sharp and deeply funny prose, Sathian captures what it is to grow up as a member of a family, of a diaspora, and of the American meritocracy. A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is authentic, fun An Indian-American magical realist coming of age story, spanning two continents, two coasts, and four epochs, in razor sharp and deeply funny prose, Sathian captures what it is to grow up as a member of a family, of a diaspora, and of the American meritocracy. A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is authentic, funny, and smart. He just doesn't share the same drive as everyone around him. His perfect older sister is headed to Duke. His parents' expectations for him are just as high. He tries to want this version of success, but mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal. But Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewelry's original owner. Anjali's own mother in Bombay didn't waste the precious potion on her daughter, favoring her sons instead. Anita, on the other hand, just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. But when Neil--who needs a whole lot more--joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart. Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned Berkeley history grad student studying the California gold rush. His high school cohort has migrated to Silicon Valley, where he reunites with Anita and resurrects their old habit of gold theft--only now, the stakes are higher. Anita's mother is in trouble, and only gold can save her. Anita and Neil must pull off one last heist. Gold Diggers is a fine-grained, profoundly intelligent, and bitingly funny investigation in to questions of identity and coming of age--that tears down American shibboleths.

30 review for Gold Diggers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Sanjena Sathian’s “Gold Diggers” is a work of 24-karat genius. This remarkable debut novel — already chosen by Mindy Kaling for an upcoming TV series — melts down striving immigrant tales, Old West mythology and even madcap thrillers to produce an invaluable new alloy of American literature. Charting the route that generations of Indian immigrants have taken to these shores, Sathian locates the precarious nexus of pride and anxiety where so many newcomers reside. She follows the children who stra Sanjena Sathian’s “Gold Diggers” is a work of 24-karat genius. This remarkable debut novel — already chosen by Mindy Kaling for an upcoming TV series — melts down striving immigrant tales, Old West mythology and even madcap thrillers to produce an invaluable new alloy of American literature. Charting the route that generations of Indian immigrants have taken to these shores, Sathian locates the precarious nexus of pride and anxiety where so many newcomers reside. She follows the children who straddle two cultures, forced again and again to answer the question, “What does it mean to be both Indian and American?” And in the process, she plumbs the universal challenge of satisfying the hunger for more — more money, more prestige, more time — an obsession that would make any of us strangers to ourselves. The narrator of “Gold Diggers” is an endearing young man named Neil Narayan, an Indian American living in Atlanta. “When I was younger,” Neil says, “I consisted of little but my parents’ ambitions for who I was to become.” Despite the usual high school temptations, he dutifully heeds his “mother’s warnings that engaging in nonsense could abort all you were supposed to become, could in fact abort the very American dream we were. . . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    2.5 stars: I have very mixed feelings about “Gold Diggers” by Sanjena Sathian. Perhaps it is because I went into it blind, not totally understanding the “magical realism” and what that entails. I’m a huge fan of Alice Hoffman so I am a fan of magical stuff. But this one left me thinking about why I felt the magical realism didn’t work here. First the good stuff. I enjoyed Sathian’s prose. This is a literary story with beautifully written sentences. The writing is the best part. For example: “I had 2.5 stars: I have very mixed feelings about “Gold Diggers” by Sanjena Sathian. Perhaps it is because I went into it blind, not totally understanding the “magical realism” and what that entails. I’m a huge fan of Alice Hoffman so I am a fan of magical stuff. But this one left me thinking about why I felt the magical realism didn’t work here. First the good stuff. I enjoyed Sathian’s prose. This is a literary story with beautifully written sentences. The writing is the best part. For example: “I had not realized before then that I was a romantic, but I saw how Anita seemed more engaged with a kind of crude sensate reality. She was perhaps more correct about the world. But I have, constitutionally and inevitably, always preferred the blur of mystery to the assurance of empirical facts.” Next is Sathian’s story of the Indian/Asian culture of high expectations placed on children and young adults. The pressure that school-age children and university students endure is crushing, and Sathian shows that well. The reader feels the emotional crush and strain the high expectations create. Perhaps I wanted the story to be more about that since she wrote about it so well. That yearning is what leads to the magical realism. To get an edge, one of the main characters, Neil, inadvertently discovers his neighbor is making a potion/elixir that embeds special powers. Neil is a bit lazy with little ambition. He wants to make his father proud. Of course, to attain the ingredients for the potion leads to catastrophe. This begs the question of to what lengths will one go to for attaining success? In this need for achievement, Sathian peppers the tragedy with humor which makes this readable, otherwise it would be a depressing storyline. It’s a great author who can write comedy into emotionally charged situations. For me, the best part of the novel is Sathian showcasing the pressure-cooker that Asian immigrants place on their children, and the resulting dysfunction with which the first-generation Asian immigrants are fraught. There is a dark side to pushing success. I liked the novel, yet I didn’t love it. Loved the writing. The story, though, for me was a struggle. This wasn’t a book that I couldn’t wait to get back to. I didn’t stay up past my bedtime.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    Thanks to the title, you never really have to wonder if this book is going to be so on the nose with its themes. It may be a bit out of fashion in literary fiction these days to be so straightforward but it didn't bother me one bit. Gold is so steeped in American and Indian cultures, so imbued with its own myths, that there is an awful lot to draw from and Sathian doesn't let any bit of it go to waste: the Gold Rush (particularly, but not only, in California), alchemy, beauty, adornment, giftgiv Thanks to the title, you never really have to wonder if this book is going to be so on the nose with its themes. It may be a bit out of fashion in literary fiction these days to be so straightforward but it didn't bother me one bit. Gold is so steeped in American and Indian cultures, so imbued with its own myths, that there is an awful lot to draw from and Sathian doesn't let any bit of it go to waste: the Gold Rush (particularly, but not only, in California), alchemy, beauty, adornment, giftgiving, love, it is all here. All the shiny pieces of it add extra layers to the second-generation immigrant story, the clash between parental ambition and youthful rebellion, the tension between assimilation and cultural preservation. And, to top it off, we have a coming-of-age story of guilt and loneliness. There is a sheen of surrealism atop it all, and it's expertly done. The surreal elements of the book are there to amplify the emotions and themes, even while they give the plot a device to work around. They feel as timeless as any piece of folklore, and they really mesh with the weight of the novel. It is, simultaneously, steeped in the past while also being hyper-specific to a few modern times and places. (The first section takes place in 2006 in suburban Atlanta, the second in 2016 in the Bay Area.) There is a lovely melding of the big themes and old stories with the very specific story of Neil that works quite well. The only part of this meshing I did not find totally successful was the prose itself. To me, the parts that were closest to Neil's own point of view were the best, the sharpest, the saddest and the funniest. The prose that was bigger, broader, more "literary" never quite hit that same spot of satisfaction for me, though I know for many people that kind of writing is required for a book to be taken seriously. (I find it silly, but ultimately it's not my call.) I also have to add that there is a heist in this book. Because I know how much many of you love heists. It's a very assured debut, I was not surprised to see the author's extensive literary pedigree, and I am glad I picked it up. Very excited to see what Sathian does next.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    All that glitters and all of that. Gold Diggers drew me in, initially, as I've always enjoyed novels based on Indian/Asian themes. The thought of a bit of magical realism lined with gold/alchemy in the making was too much to pass up. I flew through the beginning chapters wrapped in humor and the reality of second generation Indian Americans sorting through their existence in a personal world that desperately tries to please outside sources while finding one's own individual sense of identity. Neil All that glitters and all of that. Gold Diggers drew me in, initially, as I've always enjoyed novels based on Indian/Asian themes. The thought of a bit of magical realism lined with gold/alchemy in the making was too much to pass up. I flew through the beginning chapters wrapped in humor and the reality of second generation Indian Americans sorting through their existence in a personal world that desperately tries to please outside sources while finding one's own individual sense of identity. Neil Narayan lives outside of Atlanta with his parents. We follow him through his interactions on the high school scene trying to find pockets of success with minimum input. The story is set in the Bush era with emphasis put upon entering the name-dropping universities as a sign of truly making it. But Neil has his sights set on his neighbor, Anita Dayal. Anita remains aloof. But Neil comes upon a guarded secret between Anita and her mother, Anjali. Anjali has brought from Bombay her mother's uncanny wizardry of turning gold into a magical drink for ambition's sake. Several swallows miraculously turn the tide on the success-o-meter. This brings quite the loop into this storyline. Gold Diggers lost its lustre (pun intended) for me as the character of Neil became less and less of a draw to the storyline. Sanjena Sathian would have served this story far better from positioning Anita or Anjali at the helm. I grew weary of him and his telling. And that is not to say that the writing was not top-notch. Perhaps you will find this one more engaging overall than I did. I still look forward to Sanjena Sathian's next offering.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    Another excellent debut novel! This will probably scare off some readers because there is some magical realism swirled in here but it’s not heavy-handed or overly “woo-woo.” It’s not really even the main focus of the novel; just the means to an end for striving parents to secure status and privilege for their children. To me, this is a smart, funny and perceptive coming of age story that illuminates the anxiety that is growing up Asian American. I loved it - the first half more so than the second Another excellent debut novel! This will probably scare off some readers because there is some magical realism swirled in here but it’s not heavy-handed or overly “woo-woo.” It’s not really even the main focus of the novel; just the means to an end for striving parents to secure status and privilege for their children. To me, this is a smart, funny and perceptive coming of age story that illuminates the anxiety that is growing up Asian American. I loved it - the first half more so than the second, when the story takes a sharp left into a bit of a nutty and unnerving heist caper with an increasingly off-kilter narrator. I bet this would be a terrific audio-book with the right narrator! A fun and interesting read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    RoshReviews

    Gold Diggers is an Indian-American story unlike any I've read before. It's quite a unique debut novel, focused on the desi diaspora in the US. The narrator of the book is Neil Narayan (actual name: Neeraj), a young Indian-American teenager. His parents have high expectations from him and his older sister. Unfortunately, the drive that fuels his competitive sister's ambition is missing in Neil and he finds himself struggling to meet their expectations. His focus is more on his neighbour, Anita Da Gold Diggers is an Indian-American story unlike any I've read before. It's quite a unique debut novel, focused on the desi diaspora in the US. The narrator of the book is Neil Narayan (actual name: Neeraj), a young Indian-American teenager. His parents have high expectations from him and his older sister. Unfortunately, the drive that fuels his competitive sister's ambition is missing in Neil and he finds himself struggling to meet their expectations. His focus is more on his neighbour, Anita Dayal, who has a dark secret of her own. Along with her mother Anjali, she brews a special potion made with gold stolen from other desi achievers to harness their energies. After a certain tragedy causes them to part ways, the story resumes ten years later, where they need to return to their alchemical adventures once again, this time to save Anjali. The book aims to be a bildungsroman-cum-heist-cum-literary fiction-magical realism. It performs wonderfully in the bildungsroman part, decently in the heist and magical realism sections but goes for a toss when it comes the literary fiction bit. I did love the caricatured sarcasm in the book. It takes a not-so-subtle dig at all those Indian Americans who want the best of American opportunities while looking down on American values. They want their children to succeed at engineering or any such prominent field, they want their children to aim at the elite universities, they want their children to avoid alcohol and drugs and premarital sex and get married to their chosen Indian partner after "settling" in the career. All the parents portrayed in the novel except Anjali are stereotypical. Then again, these stereotypes are based very much in reality, though they seem like an exaggeration. I also appreciate how the author didn't present a picture-perfect cultured Indian-in-America story. The younger generation is shown to have American struggles, American thinking, American attitudes, while still having the Indian guilt hammered in them courtesy their parents. Neil feels tremendous pressure from his parents to become "something", to justify their "shift across the oceans". It's a nice insight into the pressure that the younger generation (born in America to desi parents) feels regularly. I wish the rest of the book could have matched up to these two positive points. I didn't like the narrative pov of Neil. He was boring and almost self-obsessed. I wish the narrator had been Anjali or Anita. The story would have had so much more to offer if it were from either of their perspectives. Even a multi-pov narration would have worked well. Neil the narrator simply couldn't handle the burden of telling their story effectively. The flashbacks that offer Anjali's story are way more interesting than the present seen through Neil's eyes. The book starts off very well and until about 40-45%, I was quite hooked onto the story though it was slow-paced at times. After that mark, it just dragged. The plot meanders a lot and ends up becoming a tedious torture. It doesn't recover its momentum till the very end. I was on the verge of giving up on the book many times. The only reason I read it till the end was to know the whats and whys of Anjali's story. That ending did provide some closure, but not satisfaction. The book would have been much better with a strict editing, making the narrative tauter and cutting out all unnecessary chaff. All in all, this was a book that had tremendous potential but failed to achieve the promised heights. It is still a great debut, especially in terms of its innovative storyline. All it needed is a more focused narrative, a better protagonist, and crisper editing. Thank you, NetGalley and Penguin Press, for the Advanced Review Copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. *********************** Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun. Follow me on Instagram: RoshReviews

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mythili

    Content warning: suicide Second Disclaimer: I am perhaps unduly harsh on books about the Indian-American experience. They are more likely to exasperate me. Not because I think that every book needs to perfectly express my experience--I loved Never Have I Ever, and my experience could not have been more disparate--but because they seem to barely skim the surface of the wealth of experience that I know the #ownvoices author must have. So they don't come off as insightful to me, the way that Big Ban Content warning: suicide Second Disclaimer: I am perhaps unduly harsh on books about the Indian-American experience. They are more likely to exasperate me. Not because I think that every book needs to perfectly express my experience--I loved Never Have I Ever, and my experience could not have been more disparate--but because they seem to barely skim the surface of the wealth of experience that I know the #ownvoices author must have. So they don't come off as insightful to me, the way that Big Bang Theory's "nerd jokes" never made any sense to me, a former academic nerd person who actually went to nerd college. YMMV, I assume this could be a three star book for the average reader, South Asian or not, who doesn't demand more of their South Asian rep. The main part of the blurb is three paragraphs. The first is about Neil's character (our protagonist). The second is all about Anita's secret, the liquid gold that drives the promised heist plots. The third is half about Neil, and then half about a second-arc heist. The blurb is lying. This book is actually another entry in my favoritest subgenre! "An emotionally stunted manchild cannot handle life, even in the slightest, and doesn't know what his Purpose is: the second gen Indian-American edition, Atlanta/San Francisco variant." MY GOD, I just wanted Anita and her mother Anjali to DROP THIS DRIP and let him fail entirely on his own merits. Or maybe just drop him off the edge of a plot hole somewhere so that he'd disappear and we could spend some time with literally any other character, I literally cared about every single character (except maybe the 2D stereotype classmates that filled out Anita's new private school) more than I cared about Neil "I have decided to go by a Starbucks name my entire life but sneer at my sister's attempts to answer questions about being bicultural" Narayan. Yes, I will freely admit again that I might judge Indian-American experience books a bit more critically. In this case, I genuinely believe it's because if the unexamined life is not worth living, I'm not entirely sure whether it's worth reading. Does Neil need to, "cheerfully attune [his] inner life with each year," like he notes his sister has done? Well, no. But methinks that you're quick to psychoanalyze your sister, burdened with the weight of being the eldest child of immigrant parents, who has come to terms with her identity and made a life for herself, and quick to dismiss one brief dalliance with therapy years ago as not useful. And, like, what is the point of watching along as Neil snorts and drugs his way through a mediocre grad student existence in mid-2010s-Bay Area? That Indian-American second generation kids-now-adults can be just as disaffected as any other group who have shed the moniker of immigrant years after having landed on the hallowed, stolen shores of America? I dunno. There's so much promise in this book: the idea of gold/alchemy/ambition, "to whom much is given, much is expected, and also you should try and feel as guilty as you can about all your actions," the weird protective-yet-smothering effect of growing up in the South Asian bubble within majority white neighborhoods that are now majority immigrant when you go back to visit...but we're stuck on this protagonist who is afflicted with Great Ennui over everything that he is too lazy to achieve. (view spoiler)[And also, can we definitively say that he's also a psychopathic little shit for stealing Shruti's life force while pretending to be into her? I'm not saying he's like, the only one to blame for her suicide--although he seems to think that, letting him be that important irks me--but he's definitely no better than Minkus and his clandestine Smith & Wesson 9mm when it comes to carrying out dangerous, harmful actions. (hide spoiler)]

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pooja

    One of the best! Gold Diggers taps into some profound questions about American-ness, ambition, manifest destiny and meritocracy. But it's also hilarious, one of those novels that may be a bit impolite to read in public because you'll be laughing, loudly and often, as you do. It is also a page turner par excellence. I found myself rushing to find out what happens next but also not wanting it to end. The magical realism here is deft and inventive and operates even on the level of history, and when One of the best! Gold Diggers taps into some profound questions about American-ness, ambition, manifest destiny and meritocracy. But it's also hilarious, one of those novels that may be a bit impolite to read in public because you'll be laughing, loudly and often, as you do. It is also a page turner par excellence. I found myself rushing to find out what happens next but also not wanting it to end. The magical realism here is deft and inventive and operates even on the level of history, and when history becomes myth. And though it is IMO the funniest desi novel since Midnight's Children, it's also deeply melancholy, which is a magic trick unto itself. As an Indian-American, I am grateful for the recent proliferation of fiction related to the diaspora. We've moved beyond chopped onions and green chilis, cardigans worn over saris, and other signifiers of the either-or dilemmas the first generation faced. I am thrilled to see a novel like this, which firmly embeds the "immigrant experience" in the American story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shivani

    *3.5 stars TW: suicide, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, racism, classism, sexual assault Where do I begin with this book? If you didn't know, whenever I read a book that has many ups and downs I usually settle on a solid 3 star rating. I had no idea what to expect going into this book, but I feel like even if I did, it wouldn't have come close to what this book embodied. Let's start with what I enjoyed. I found the atmosphere of this book to really resonate with me because I too am a 2nd gene *3.5 stars TW: suicide, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, racism, classism, sexual assault Where do I begin with this book? If you didn't know, whenever I read a book that has many ups and downs I usually settle on a solid 3 star rating. I had no idea what to expect going into this book, but I feel like even if I did, it wouldn't have come close to what this book embodied. Let's start with what I enjoyed. I found the atmosphere of this book to really resonate with me because I too am a 2nd generation Indian immigrant. My parents moved to the US from India in their late 20s and I grew up between worlds of what did it mean to be both Indian and American (that was a constant thread throughout the novel). I appreciated the highlighting of these characters who went through very similar experiences as me when it came to family get togethers or the overall competitive nature of Indian families (whether that's in academics, careers, who's house is nicer, etc.). The actual concept of drinking gold and acquiring a person's ambition was incredibly new and fascinating to me. I had never dived into the properties or the reason why Indians valued gold so much before, but what took this story to another level was the research the author put into digging up the actual history of the first gold miners in the US, more specifically the first Indian gold miner. I truly wished there was more detail about him and his life because I was always intrigued when he was brought up in the novel. My own personal analysis of what this gold was was this notion of fitting in to this stereotype Indian box that American people think we are while also finally reaching this unbelievable notion of being the best of the best. In that strive for perfection a person really begins to lose themselves, and all the aspects of life that make them them. The commentary of this book on Indian culture was very meticulous and it's something that you have to pay close attention to to I think really appreciate the story for what it was. Now, with all that being said, there are of course parts of this book I didn't really understand. I will say that maybe if I wasn't reading it at this time where I have so much going on in my mind I might have sat and decoded the book a bit more, added more annotations, etc., but from what I did read, this book was also incredibly chaotic. The voice of Neil, truly, and I mean truly got on my nerves lol. This is probably because I don't usually read from male POV's often, but this man was just straight up a disaster (although, not going to lie I know plenty of Brown guys like him haha). A part of me would have rather seen this book through the eyes of the generation of the three Dayal women. I say this in special regards to the formatting of the book. I felt like some chapters absolutely nothing happened, but then a section would come up with some really engaging background of a character or a story that would suck me in. I just was being pulled mentally in many different directions. All in all, I recommend everyone pick this book up especially if you're looking for critical themes about the Indian diaspora in the United States or if you really enjoy history, I feel like you'll enjoy this one. (Excuse my essay of a review).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Neeraj, who goes by Neil, lives in the suburb of Hammond Creek, Georgia and is a stressed-out teenager trying to live up to his Indian immigrant parents' goals for him. They love him, but have enormous expectations in regards to his intellectual achievements. Unfortunately, Neil is an average student. The pressure to succeed causes him to use drugs like Adderall, but his drug of choice is a lemonade concoction that contains gold. His fellow student and neighbor, Anita, started taking it and her Neeraj, who goes by Neil, lives in the suburb of Hammond Creek, Georgia and is a stressed-out teenager trying to live up to his Indian immigrant parents' goals for him. They love him, but have enormous expectations in regards to his intellectual achievements. Unfortunately, Neil is an average student. The pressure to succeed causes him to use drugs like Adderall, but his drug of choice is a lemonade concoction that contains gold. His fellow student and neighbor, Anita, started taking it and her performance improved dramatically. Welcome to the magical realism part of the novel. Neil is a memorable character. He wants to live up to his parents’ dream for him, but he also wants to be true to himself—a common dilemma for many teenagers. Sathian has let him have weaknesses—he is often quite self-centered. Sathian’s romantic subplot between Neil and Anita takes a long time developing. But, not as long as the main plot-line. I was beginning to despair that Sathian would never get to the point. But to my surprise, Sathian does finally get there in the end.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    There was a lot that I liked about Gold Diggers. Sanjena Sathian is a beautiful writer and the story was well constructed, particularly the second half. I found the magical realism a bit distracting and it lessened the impact of the tragedy that occurred in the first half.

  12. 5 out of 5

    trishla ⚡ | YourLocalBookReader

    4 stars tw // suicide, drugs, alcohol, racism, classism, sexual assault, depression rep // Indian MC's "When I was younger, I consisted of little but my parents' ambitions for who I was to become." I have to say I was originally drawn to this book because it was marketed as a "gold heist" and I was on a crime/heist bender SoC. HOWEVER this book is SO SO SO much more. This is really a book about the toxic pressure in the Indian community and what that does to you as you grow older. I loved seeing t 4 stars tw // suicide, drugs, alcohol, racism, classism, sexual assault, depression rep // Indian MC's "When I was younger, I consisted of little but my parents' ambitions for who I was to become." I have to say I was originally drawn to this book because it was marketed as a "gold heist" and I was on a crime/heist bender SoC. HOWEVER this book is SO SO SO much more. This is really a book about the toxic pressure in the Indian community and what that does to you as you grow older. I loved seeing this perspective told from someone who was a OV author. The premise is that these women are making a potion with gold that allows them to gain the ambition from the jewelry's original owner. The MC, Neil is a "unfocused" Indian boy living in Georgia who is constantly in the shadow of his perfect older sister, Prachi. However he's mainly focused on his neighbor Anita who's been drinking a gold potion that allows her to steal the ambition from the other girls in the neighborhood by boiling and drinking their gold jewelry. This leads to Anita beating out Prachi for Miss Teen Georgia, and Neil sneaking his way into getting her to share some of the "lemonade" with him. By stealing from his classmates, all seems to be going well until he takes too much from a girl, causing her to commit suicide. In a society focused solely on "getting into the best schools and eventual jobs", where does mental health even fit in? We see a father character say it was all for dramatics, in a world where people would kill to beat someone to the top. Where does mental health fit in in a society that refuses to talk about it, would rather hide it away then risk the societal shame of having a so-called bad brain. After this the book does about a 10 year skip and we see Neil as a graduate student in history still seeing the ghost of the classmate he killed. Anita has a serious case of burnout, jumping out of a "incredible by all Indian standards job" and "perfect by all Indian means boyfriend". We see her speak at the new teen pageant about how suicide is a "feature of the system, not a bug" and that the entire society is responsible for it. However they are brought back together for one last theft, to try and cure Anita's mom's depression with marriage gold. The final theft goes "almost" as planned, but they learn that Anita's mom Anjali, was not trying to gain ambition but rather gain more time, and that has poisoned her. They instead return the last of the gold to it's discovery place as an offering for some life back, or a new life going forward free of the past. Find me on: instagram

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    After reading an excerpt and discovering that Mindy Kaling had bought the rights to this book, I was expecting it to be humorous and it wasn't. I just thought it was strange. It was all about stealing gold from people, making it into an elixir, and drinking it to gain the attributes of the previous owner for better or for worse. I didn't care for it at all. After reading an excerpt and discovering that Mindy Kaling had bought the rights to this book, I was expecting it to be humorous and it wasn't. I just thought it was strange. It was all about stealing gold from people, making it into an elixir, and drinking it to gain the attributes of the previous owner for better or for worse. I didn't care for it at all.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    An Immigrant Story with a dash of magical realism and tons of humor- and so well written and superbly researched. Immigrant stories- including those of East Indian Immigrants- are plentiful. This book gets 5 stars for being so different, so inventive and just plain fun to read. Loved it!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jahnvi Upreti

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was so excited to read this book, i waited weeks for it, and it was such a let down. I had to convince myself to finish. It had some great messages, but they were clouded by so many irritating parts of the plot. The only interesting parts of the book were the story about the Indian man during the gold rush, and Anjali Auntie’s past and her relationship with her mother. These elements were maybe 20% of the book in total. Everything below is a slight rant, just for me to reflect on later lol I a I was so excited to read this book, i waited weeks for it, and it was such a let down. I had to convince myself to finish. It had some great messages, but they were clouded by so many irritating parts of the plot. The only interesting parts of the book were the story about the Indian man during the gold rush, and Anjali Auntie’s past and her relationship with her mother. These elements were maybe 20% of the book in total. Everything below is a slight rant, just for me to reflect on later lol I appreciate that the book speaks to the challenges children of Asian immigrants can face, but I just couldn’t help feeling a little disgusted with how privileged some of these characters are. This book speaks to the experiences of many Asian kids for sure, but certainly not all of them. Not all south Asians immigrate to the US and have their biggest worry be if they can brag about their child’s resume. And i understand that this book is focused on those privileged south Asian families, which is fair, i just personally felt like it was a waste of my time to read a whole book about the worst parts of my culture, and have no meaningful resolution from it. I do think it’s great the book highlighted how that “tiger parent” mindset can be disastrous for a kid’s mental health (because that is a huge problem in the Desi community, one associated with a lot of stigma) but I just felt that while the book addressed important issues like that, there was no genuine character development. Instead, the focus was on stealing and drinking gold to be ambitious and happy in life, to be “American”, and in the end they stop, yes, but not necessarily because they realized it was terrible but because it actually kills people! The end was just way too cheesy, literally felt a like a deux ex machina where they saw apparitions and magically realized they’ll be ok if they don’t become founders of a tech startup or be a doctor and make millions of dollars. The moral was “you can be a non-high achiever and still be American and happy in life.” If they had chosen to relinquish the gold, that would have been more powerful and interesting. A girl committed suicide after they stole some of her gold/ ambition and yet they continued to steal it in the future!! And even when they were trying to steal the gold for Anjali Auntie so she can be happy or whatever, i didn’t root for the main characters at all because these people literally have so much money, they can access therapy and other treatments, they are so privileged, they don’t need the gold! Just felt pointless. I love magical realism, but the gold was felt wasted by really unlikeable characters. On that note, the protagonist is a painfully boring lead. The guy laments the whole first half of the book that he doesn’t have what it takes to get into Harvard (which is totally fair, and doesn’t make any person less valuable!!) but then somehow manages to get into UC Berkeley with almost no work ethic and pursue a grad degree in a field he’s interested in, and still laments about how he has no ambition and is nowhere in life and is a failure among Indian people. The guy was unbearable. And I know people like him, so reading this book through that POV was exhausting. I truly felt like this book embodied some of the things it criticized, which was so frustrating to read, and diluted the impact the messages had.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David V

    This book starts off very strong, with biting insight (and satire) regarding the 1st- and 2nd-generation Indian-American experience. The author mixes in magical realism to create an interesting plot regarding ambition and achievement. I found myself recognizing conversations I have had with numerous Indian co-workers over the past 10-15 years, many of whom are wrestling with what it means to have one foot in America and another back in India. The book artfully and effectively captures the demand This book starts off very strong, with biting insight (and satire) regarding the 1st- and 2nd-generation Indian-American experience. The author mixes in magical realism to create an interesting plot regarding ambition and achievement. I found myself recognizing conversations I have had with numerous Indian co-workers over the past 10-15 years, many of whom are wrestling with what it means to have one foot in America and another back in India. The book artfully and effectively captures the demands and desires of the parents who have relocated for opportunity and the children who are struggling with identity and their futures. There is a definitive divider in the book where Part 1 ends and Part 2 begins ~10 years later. The book loses all momentum at that point and Neil, the protagonist and narrator, takes us on a meandering journey to an expository less-than-satisfying conclusion. The focus shifts from the characters and into an amalgam of history lesson (Gold Rush), a heist which adds little to the story other than 20-30 pages of pseudo-action, and navel-gazing by Neil. This was a 4-5 star book for the first half and a 2-star book for the second half - thus the 3-star rating.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bookphile

    This book was so frustrating. Some spoilers to follow in my review, so read at your own risk. When I first started reading this book, I was so into it. I found the use of alchemy so interesting and so mysterious, and I was invested in what the book seemed to be saying about the ways in which boys' and men's ambitions are given precedence over those of girls and women. Then the portion of the book where Neil is in high school ended, and my interest in the book took a nosedive. Oh, I knew early in r This book was so frustrating. Some spoilers to follow in my review, so read at your own risk. When I first started reading this book, I was so into it. I found the use of alchemy so interesting and so mysterious, and I was invested in what the book seemed to be saying about the ways in which boys' and men's ambitions are given precedence over those of girls and women. Then the portion of the book where Neil is in high school ended, and my interest in the book took a nosedive. Oh, I knew early in reading the later parts that I just did not like Neil as a character, but it wasn't until after I'd finished reading the book that I figured out why: he was a trope, a trope that usually prevents me from reading literary fiction because I find obnoxious and egregious. Neil is unambitious. Neil envies everyone who has drive in life because he himself has none. Neil drinks, does drugs, and engages in other forms of questionable behavior in an attempt to forget about the details of his life. In short, Neil is wangsty. Honestly, I hated the book so much for making me suffer through Neil not just because I thought Neil sucked, but because the secondary characters surrounding him are much more interesting than Neil is. Like far too much literary fiction I've read, I found myself resenting the author for forcing me to sit through Neil's existential angst so that I could find out what was going to happen to Lakshmi, Anjali, and Anita. And I kept wondering, why does literary fiction do this? Why does it so often frame its narrative through the lens of some observer (who is almost always a dude) that I care nothing about, but have to suffer if I want to find out what's going to happen to the real characters? Anita's family saga is where the meat of this story is. Yes, Neil's portions do touch on the question of growing up as a first generation American, but Neil never seems to have much to say about it--unlike the female characters. Instead, why couldn't I have read a book from Anita's point of view, one in which I got more information about not only what she was struggling with, but about her mother's and grandmother's struggles as well? That was the part of the book that really pulled me in. That was the part I genuinely cared about. I don't want to watch those emotions from a remove, I want to live them. I think I was particularly frustrated about this because just before reading this book, I'd read His Only Wife, a book that actually allowed me to watch the story unfold from the perspective of one of the truly interesting characters. So, yeah, four and a half stars because the three-generation saga of Anita and her family was fascinating. Minus a star and a half because having to read about Neil spoiled the impact of their story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Inscribed Inklings

    Gold diggers by Sanjena Sathian 📚 Firstly the cover is a breath of fresh air and it's what pulled me towards the book. The book is a mix of genres- magic realism, literary fiction, romance and more. I read this book quite fast, in a span of 2-3 days. The concept of the book is quite unique and it took me a while to wrap my head around this. I like how the book portrayed Indian Americans with all their faults and glory. It showed the not so perfect sides of the immigration to the States. The wri Gold diggers by Sanjena Sathian 📚 Firstly the cover is a breath of fresh air and it's what pulled me towards the book. The book is a mix of genres- magic realism, literary fiction, romance and more. I read this book quite fast, in a span of 2-3 days. The concept of the book is quite unique and it took me a while to wrap my head around this. I like how the book portrayed Indian Americans with all their faults and glory. It showed the not so perfect sides of the immigration to the States. The writing style was articulate and portentous. The tone of the book came off as whiny because of the narrator. The narration was in first person had a single POV. The characters were all quriky and different. The plot was absolutely new and stunning. The only downside of book was the MC- Neil. The book was narrated from Neil's POV and that was not at all appealing to me and that's reason I'm giving this book only 3.5 stars. The story was about Neil and Anita. They were families living in the US. Trying to live their best lives and succeed. Anita's mom, Anjali had some knowledge about alchemy and she created some potions for Anita to do better at school. One day Neil stumbled upon their secret and he wanted to be a part of this. But he had no real reason or goals or ambitions, he was just floating along. He took things too far and there were bad consequences. The rest of book fast forwarded to next phase of life. Anita and Neil's reunion and subsequent plans for a heist. To know what exactly went down, you need to read the book. It is definitely worth reading. I just couldn't get into Neil's character. I wish the book had been written from Anita's or even Anjali's POV. Overall, it was an engaging read. Rating- ⭐⭐⭐✨ - Afreen

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    An enjoyable read centering the experience of South Asian immigrants who have internalized their parents’ pressure to live lives that will justify the parents’ move to the US...with an overlay of magical realism and astute observations on greed, ambition, history and more. Optioned by Mindy Kaling for development as a TV series or miniseries.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This may have been a case where I read too much hype about the book before I read it, lessening my enjoyment of the story. First, the good: I loved reading about the Indian-American experience, ranging from the lone, long-ago gold prospector that follows us through the tale to the modern experience of growing up in the United State with immigrant parents who have set extremely high standards for you. I don't think I've read a book like it, and I loved the story (especially the first half). I thi This may have been a case where I read too much hype about the book before I read it, lessening my enjoyment of the story. First, the good: I loved reading about the Indian-American experience, ranging from the lone, long-ago gold prospector that follows us through the tale to the modern experience of growing up in the United State with immigrant parents who have set extremely high standards for you. I don't think I've read a book like it, and I loved the story (especially the first half). I think the book fell a bit flat for me in that the themes (GOLD) were a bit too obvious and stressed, and I feel like the author felt pressure to make some sort of exciting climax to the book when it probably needed a quieter and subtler ending—it almost felt like a weird genre-shift in the last 25% or so. I also simply didn't like the main character very much—I was much more interested in Anita and her mom, and I wonder what the book would have been like if we had followed them in first-person instead of Neil. Even though I wasn't blown away by the book, it was a pleasant read and I'm really looking forward to what the author writes next.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Grace

    3.5/5 rounded down to a 3. Would recommend this book for many reasons, but the main character was so unlikeable (maybe that was the point?). This book starts with Neeraj - aka Neil - and Anita, two Indian-American high schoolers, who are both looking for success in life. Anita's mother, a basement alchemist, has found a way to harness the power of stolen gold in order to make both Anita and Neil successful in their endeavors. Anita participates in Miss Teen India USA, where contestants are suppos 3.5/5 rounded down to a 3. Would recommend this book for many reasons, but the main character was so unlikeable (maybe that was the point?). This book starts with Neeraj - aka Neil - and Anita, two Indian-American high schoolers, who are both looking for success in life. Anita's mother, a basement alchemist, has found a way to harness the power of stolen gold in order to make both Anita and Neil successful in their endeavors. Anita participates in Miss Teen India USA, where contestants are supposed to exemplify what it means to be both Indian and American. When Neil tries alchemy on his own however, it goes horribly wrong. He drops the habit of alchemy and gold and replaces it with aderall, coke and weed (this is where he becomes very unlikeable). Flashforward years in the future and Neil is studying the Gold Rush in America. This is the part of the book I found most interesting. Neil is trying to find evidence of some of the Indian-Americans coming during the Gold Rush, but finds it hard to do so. He instead comes up with his own narrative as an exercise, which I found very entertaining. I found his obsession with Anita's body hard to read through, especially since he was pretty much on drugs all the time and didn't have ambition. He was a pretty selfish character and I was not rooting for him and Anita to get together. However, the cultural aspect, thehistory and the ever looming question "What does it mean to be both Indian and American?" were much more interesting to read about, and I would recommend it for that reason.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kim Lockhart

    This was a very entertaining story, and since most of the action takes place in Georgia, it was fun for me, since all the landmarks were familiar. The cultural perspective of 2nd generation Indian Americans is an under-plumbed subject in fiction, and one I hope to see more of. Apologies for briefly reviewing the wrong Gold Diggers book, as there's another book with the same title (which centers on Zimbabwe, and is supposed to be excellent.) This was a very entertaining story, and since most of the action takes place in Georgia, it was fun for me, since all the landmarks were familiar. The cultural perspective of 2nd generation Indian Americans is an under-plumbed subject in fiction, and one I hope to see more of. Apologies for briefly reviewing the wrong Gold Diggers book, as there's another book with the same title (which centers on Zimbabwe, and is supposed to be excellent.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chidambarakumari

    Loved the beginning. As a first generation Indian immigrant trying hard to raise kids in this new world, the portions around the desi families in an Atlanta suburb hit close home. The constant comparison, never ending stream of classes even during vacation and the laser focus on Ivy League schools, the contempt for any parent who didn't run the race were all too familiar. A good portion of the middle could have been avoided. One less rumination from a stoned Neil wouldn't have really hurt the plot Loved the beginning. As a first generation Indian immigrant trying hard to raise kids in this new world, the portions around the desi families in an Atlanta suburb hit close home. The constant comparison, never ending stream of classes even during vacation and the laser focus on Ivy League schools, the contempt for any parent who didn't run the race were all too familiar. A good portion of the middle could have been avoided. One less rumination from a stoned Neil wouldn't have really hurt the plot. The ending was a dark comedy of errors and just when I thought it was getting better, the denouement was a flop. Neil is unlikable and definitely lacks any kind of drive. I could never set aside my parent mind while reading the novel and my mind kept wondering if I should push my kids more so they are more like Prachi or Anita. What if they turn out into a Neil? Is that a failure? And there in lies the author's success - in making me believe that a kid studying History at Berkeley might be considered a failure. Of all the things that rang true in this book, my favourite was Anita's speech at Miss Teen India about South Asians and their brushing aside of mental health issues. That bit hurt. The silence surrounding any kind of mental health problems in the desi community, especially around suicide was captured well.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarmat Chowdhury

    An #OwnVoices debut novel that is both a magical realism fiction novel while also being a reflective look at the immigrant experience for the subcontinent diaspora and the Indian community in general. Sathian joins that small group of Desi authors that is able to create a novel that is both Desi and American - one that truly encapsulates, what she even notes in her prose, is an experience that is unique that un-hyphenated Americans and Indians simply won't be able to understand. The premise of t An #OwnVoices debut novel that is both a magical realism fiction novel while also being a reflective look at the immigrant experience for the subcontinent diaspora and the Indian community in general. Sathian joins that small group of Desi authors that is able to create a novel that is both Desi and American - one that truly encapsulates, what she even notes in her prose, is an experience that is unique that un-hyphenated Americans and Indians simply won't be able to understand. The premise of the story is what first caught my attention - Neil (nee Neeraj) lives in the Desi enclave of Hammond Creek and is unmotivated compared to his classmates and members of his community as part of the second generation of Americans, distinct and yet the same as his parents in the first generation. As he struggles to adapt and find his motivation (besides making his parents proud, which doesn't sustain him) he stumbles across the secret that his friend and love interest Anita Dayal has kept hidden about her recent string of success - her mom dabbles in Indian alchemical magic, taking the coveted gold that every Indian family has and melting it down to drink in an elixir, mixed in with lemonade; the concoction allows for the drinker to take on the success, ambition and drive of whomever the gold had originally belonged to or who had been made for. The story follows from their early and formative teenage years, and resumes when Neil is a graduate student, struggling to focus on his thesis and finding the motivation to deal with his litany of issues - and is reunited with Anita as she calls on him to help him with one monumental task to save her mom. One of my favorite aspects of the book is how much Sathian unpacks and dismantles the myth of the model minority for the Indian American community - while also showcasing how quickly the first and second generation of immigrants assimilated into the American dream as they made it their way, all the while ignoring or otherizing those that are not able to compete or stay in the ideals of the community. It's a complex narrative and novel that Sathian is able to execute in a flawless way - because in part, her characters are flawed. Neil and Anita are real people who represent a broad spectrum of the Desi experience in America, and I appreciated that there was a true diversity in the Indian representation that she brought into the novel, a cross section of religions, states and classes for the Indian Americans that she depicted in her novel. Whether you're looking for a great literary fiction read, something with magical realism or another book about Desi Americans or written by an AAPI author; whatever your motivation might be, I highly recommend Gold Diggers as something to check out and savor.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Note: I also wrote this review for the Manchester Public Library (CT) Goodreads account. ***Edit 4/5/21: I've been reflecting on this book over the last few weeks and feel like my review needs some amending. I'd consider this a 3.5 star read, maybe even 3.75 stars. It has stuck with me, and it touches on a lot of elements of the second generation American experience (particular for Indians) that I think are important and interesting, particularly after taking some time to discuss the book with my Note: I also wrote this review for the Manchester Public Library (CT) Goodreads account. ***Edit 4/5/21: I've been reflecting on this book over the last few weeks and feel like my review needs some amending. I'd consider this a 3.5 star read, maybe even 3.75 stars. It has stuck with me, and it touches on a lot of elements of the second generation American experience (particular for Indians) that I think are important and interesting, particularly after taking some time to discuss the book with my first generation Indian immigrant friend. The more time has passed and the more I've ruminated on the story, the more I enjoyed it. I would be interested in seeing the TV adaptation that is in the works, as Mindy Kaling purchased the television rights. I also had a comment on my basement issue - someone pointed out to me that the suburbs of Atlanta have many houses with basements. Thank you for clarifying that and correcting me!*** This story highlights the difficulty of being a second generation American, specifically the need to be very successful in order to make your parents sacrifice in moving to a new country a worthwhile venture. Neeraj "Neil" Narayan is struggling to do just that in high school and later as an adult. In feeling the pressure to succeed when he constantly feels less than and unable, Neil stumbles into a way to harvest the ambition of others to buoy his own success through his next door neighbor and crush, Anita, as well as her mother, Anjali. But after a tragic event Neil realizes the cost of this borrowed ambition is high, something that will plague him for years to come. I appreciated this story of the immigrant struggle to achieve the often unachievable and unrealistic American Dream - it's a sad commentary on how Americans define success - and enjoyed being transplanted into an Indian-American family. As an adult, Neil is using various drugs to attempt to make something of himself, an element I wasn't quite sure I found believable for a variety of reasons (an example: how is a grad student on a grant, without a job, able to regularly afford cocaine and other drugs?) and I can't say I felt particularly attached to any of the characters. One small detail bothered me for its lack of believability: early in the book, numerous scenes (some insignificant, some more important) happen in basements. However, this book takes place in Georgia, and based on my own knowledge of the South (friends and family who live in Georgia and North Carolina) and a little internet research, the majority of homes in the South do not have basements - they either have crawl spaces or are built on slabs. I thought at first maybe this was the author writing about an area she was not familiar with, but it turns out the author grew up in Georgia. I imagine any Southerners reading this book would find the fact that various scenes take place in a basement as unbelievable as I did, if not more so (my friend is Georgia actually thought this was laughable). Ultimately, this is a decent story with some thought provoking moments from a debut author that shows promise, but it was just an OK read for me. Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an e-galley.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tejas Sathian

    A wonderful and original story that takes the reader on a ride to several distinct milieus (19th century gold rush California, 1980s Bombay, 2000s suburban Atlanta, 2010s Bay Area) connected by a common thread of gold, which stands for immigrant ambition and the forms it inhabits. The novel manages to funnily shed light on elements both particular (its depiction of South Asian American immigrant communities) and universal (notions of familial pressure, communal belonging, the legacies of history A wonderful and original story that takes the reader on a ride to several distinct milieus (19th century gold rush California, 1980s Bombay, 2000s suburban Atlanta, 2010s Bay Area) connected by a common thread of gold, which stands for immigrant ambition and the forms it inhabits. The novel manages to funnily shed light on elements both particular (its depiction of South Asian American immigrant communities) and universal (notions of familial pressure, communal belonging, the legacies of history, the products of ambition), while using magical realist approaches to drive the plot and convey symbolism. Give it a first read to enjoy the fast paced plot, then go back with a finer comb to sift through the intricate and layered commentary and reflection!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sahil Pradhan

    "Gold Diggers" is a double edged sword of a novel. ✨ ONE EDGE: makes its marks through dark satire. Sanjena Sathian's prose is razor sharp and deft. It cuts through the quotidian tale of adventure and conjures up different worlds, spans two continents and dissects the greed of gold that runs throughout these two parallel worlds, may it be the Hindu Rasayana Shastra: a treatise on how gold provides immortality or the California Gold Rush: a land where alchemy runs the stead.  Sathian culminates idea "Gold Diggers" is a double edged sword of a novel. ✨ ONE EDGE: makes its marks through dark satire. Sanjena Sathian's prose is razor sharp and deft. It cuts through the quotidian tale of adventure and conjures up different worlds, spans two continents and dissects the greed of gold that runs throughout these two parallel worlds, may it be the Hindu Rasayana Shastra: a treatise on how gold provides immortality or the California Gold Rush: a land where alchemy runs the stead.  Sathian culminates ideas from both the worlds, amalgamates it with a wide diaspora of timelines, populates it with a vast array of characters and moulds it into this book. Sanjena has painted the most appropriate picture of a whole generation of immigrant Indians, classic brown parents and their insanely stereotypical, conservative and narrow-minded viewpoints. For them:  -Mental health issues doesn't matter or don't exist ( read as blame it on friend circles, blame it on internet, blame it on the stuff you listen to music or anything or even watch, movies or whatever, everything except the actual cause is the reason ) -Exams, marks. Exams, marks. That's the goal of life. Your arc of life should start with all A grades in school, then getting into an Ivy League and then graduating to become a doctor, an engineer or an IT giant. No start-ups, no humanities background. It needs to be flawless. -Achieving and then comparing with others is the best thing out there. Gossips, especially flaunting over excesses, may it be wealth or their son's salary or their daughter's cooking skills. See here is how you talk.  - No boyfriend or girlfriend, no sex before marriage. Live a pure virgin life, no diverted attention anywhere other than studies or else what will aunties say? -Marriage should be the ultimate goal of life, that too marriage of equals mind you. Shaadi, Shaadi, Shaadi! ✨ OTHER EDGE: makes a mark through the actual darkness that lies under this humour. The weighing of Krishna is a famous Hindu legend. Satyabhama, the second out of the seven primary wives of Krishna, out of jealousy wanted to prove to Krishna that her love for Him is greater than anyone else. Krishna with a smirk allowed her to prove that and thus she promised to prove it by weighing Krishna with gold. Poor soul did not know that to weigh a god in gold laced with human greed is but foolishness. She went on and on, emptying coffers of gold to weigh him yet she could not. Rukmini stepped in, removed all the gold, kept just one gold brick and over it a leaf of Tulsi and the weights became equal. How do you not know that gold, though the purest form of elements, once in touch with the material world is but a fragment of the all encompassing human greed? Sathian's debut novel is based on this exact darkness: greed. Alchemical techniques used in the book cannot be done without pure gold. If laced with greed, it just deteriorates the body, ages you than giving you the elixir of life and rots you from inside. For humans, gold is greed, and greed is destruction. Much if not all of the book is double layered while on the upper surface it is humorous, deep down, beneath the layers it is filled with darkness.  -When Neil, the protagonist, breaks down with anxiety, his parents don't know what to do.  -When Anita is forced to base her life on societal standards or when a girl of their school commits self harm, no parents know anything about how to handle the consequences.  -When parents force children to stand up to their expectations, they forget the dark monsters they are unleashing on them. Sanjena's debut is an ode to even these, these things that often go unnoticed when they shouldn't. Sanjena is a modern literary talent, an electric voice, who is not fearful to tread into areas of sensation: growing greed both for life and money, rising influence of muscle and divisive politics, the diminishing influence of human emotions, all in a junta of a book. This debut novel is at once: a satire, a caper, a love story, a thriller and a novel.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pooja

    As another reviewer said, “I loved the writing, didn’t love the story.” Same! I spent a lot of time highlighting relatable passages of the first generational Indian American struggle, identity, parental pressures, community, and what to study. Oh gosh, it hit home hard! But I simply could not get down with the main characters. And oh, I tried. To top it off, the book starts out as incredibly interesting with a dive into alchemy and gold. But when mixed down to a magic elixir of ambition and drive As another reviewer said, “I loved the writing, didn’t love the story.” Same! I spent a lot of time highlighting relatable passages of the first generational Indian American struggle, identity, parental pressures, community, and what to study. Oh gosh, it hit home hard! But I simply could not get down with the main characters. And oh, I tried. To top it off, the book starts out as incredibly interesting with a dive into alchemy and gold. But when mixed down to a magic elixir of ambition and drive historically given to boys over girls, we have to read the dullest of them all boy’s point of view for the ENTIRE STORY, over any of the fascinating secondary female characters who deserved the limelight. Perhaps getting a few Anita chapters in there might’ve helped. There was certainly potential here but alas, it’s not the book I fully enjoyed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Humorous, engaging story of a 'desi' family in suburban Georgia narrated by teenage Neil, and later young adult Neil. I love this author's incorporation of magical realism in a modern day story. It is so satisfying to read a novel that gives you not only laugh-out-loud moments, but also moments that pierce your heart with pathos. Sathian skillfully explores the experience of second-generation Indian immigrants growing up in America, striving to straddle the two worlds of 'homeland' and 'new home Humorous, engaging story of a 'desi' family in suburban Georgia narrated by teenage Neil, and later young adult Neil. I love this author's incorporation of magical realism in a modern day story. It is so satisfying to read a novel that gives you not only laugh-out-loud moments, but also moments that pierce your heart with pathos. Sathian skillfully explores the experience of second-generation Indian immigrants growing up in America, striving to straddle the two worlds of 'homeland' and 'new home'. She is especially successful in evoking in the reader the feeling of the pressure and stress felt by these kids/teenagers from their parents to succeed and excel in school, education and later career status. One can really feel the weight of the burden of striving for the 'American Dream' on these desi kids. Sathian is a talented writer--lovely prose and great character development. I think this is a great summer read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I picked this up under the impression it was a straight-up comedy, and I was pleased to see the more serious directions it took (though when it's funny, it is very funny!). The one big weakness is unfortunately our protagonist; I'm simply not that into directionless young men flailing in academia - but luckily, Neil is just as often narrating the more interesting people and world around him as he is talking about his own journey. I don't love him as a character but I do like him as an observer a I picked this up under the impression it was a straight-up comedy, and I was pleased to see the more serious directions it took (though when it's funny, it is very funny!). The one big weakness is unfortunately our protagonist; I'm simply not that into directionless young men flailing in academia - but luckily, Neil is just as often narrating the more interesting people and world around him as he is talking about his own journey. I don't love him as a character but I do like him as an observer and a vessel for all the pieces of history and other people's stories he brings together. I like Anita and Anjali and Prachi through his eyes, you can tell from the beginning he doesn't have the full picture of any of them. And I enjoy the suburban teenage nostalgia in his narration of the first third or so.

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