Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dispatches From The Field: Joe says "This collection of stories caught me off guard."

With buoyant humor and incisive, cunning prose, Rahul Mehta sets off into uncharted literary territory. The characters in Quarantine—openly gay Indian-American men—are Westernized in some ways, with cosmopolitan views on friendship and sex, while struggling to maintain relationships with their families and cultural traditions. Grappling with the issues that concern all gay men—social acceptance, the right to pursue happiness, and the heavy toll of listening to their hearts and bodies—they confront an elder generation's attachment to old-country ways. Estranged from their cultural in-group and still set apart from larger society, the young men in these lyrical, provocative, emotionally wrenching, yet frequently funny stories find themselves quarantined.

Already a runaway success in India, Quarantine marks the debut of a unique literary talent.

Joe says:

"This collection of stories caught me off guard. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised to find nine immensely readable stories that highlighted the lives of Indian Americans. The title of the collection, Quarantine,  is apt for these stories, as each of the characters seem to be isolated from something, be it their homeland, society at large, or their hopes at what their lives would look like by now. In each of the stories, the characters are vivid and have stuck to my memory--the grandmother dutifully studying to take the citizenship exam, even when it is not what she wants to do struck me as especially haunting. Many of the stories take part, either whole or partially, in India, through the eyes of an Indian-American. These were, for me, especially interesting. From the perspective of Americans, these people are returning to their homelands. From the perspective of Indians, these are Americans. These stories are about people who do not belong, and must forge their own way, create their own home. And many of these narrators are young gay men, who are doubly separated from society: in America: neither straight nor American; in India, neither Indian nor welcome. These stories are offer powerful, personal insight into what it means to be a part of a culture, of a society, of a family. These stories are told not only with wisdom, but with the comforting voice of someone who's been there. In these short stories, author Rahul Mehta offers us a glimpse into a world at once mysterious and familiar, through the eyes of some very interesting narrators."

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