Over five years ago, I read and reviewed Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s first book Secret Daughter. In that review, I said that I couldn’t wait for her second. I had to wait a while, but when I saw this book, I knew I wanted to review it.
I love stories about expats coming to America, especially those from countries like India that are so different from America. I tend to like Indian writers and am rarely disappointed by novels featuring that point of view.
In The Golden Son, Gowda tells the story of Anil Patel, a first born son of a farmer and landowner. He is encouraged to use the brain with which he’s been gifted and attends college and medical school. He applies for — and receives — a prestigious residency at Dallas’ Parkview hospital. His story focuses on his adjustment to America — with a lot of interesting setting and detail of what it’s like being a resident — and his struggle with staying loyal and connected to his family in India while taking advantage of all America can offer him.
We also follow his childhood friend Leena, who is married off to a rich but cruel man. Her family is struggling as a result of this marriage, and Leena’s ultimate decision leads her family to feel shamed.
Although this book only focuses on a few years (we get snippets of Anil’s and Leena’s childhoods, but most focuses on those years after medical school), it reads like a saga. The rich settings, the two different worlds presented and all the characters who have different experiences in those worlds, truly makes it an immersive experience. These characters will stick with me for a long time. The secondary characters are written just as richly — if not more so in some cases — than the title character.
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