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The Windfall by Diksha Basu

The Windfall

by Diksha Basu

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Windfall of the title is the sale of a website by Anil Jha, who never expected to make such a huge fortune that would allow him and his wife Bindu to move out of their working class neighborhood and into one of the wealthier areas in Delhi,India.

How this new money and expected new social class to live up to is the driving force of this engaging debut novel by Diksha Basu yet the story is strongly held up by the emotional needs of the characters, such as Mrs. Ray, a young widow and family friend who is given a second chance at love due to her connection with the Jhas and Rupak, the only son of the Jha family living in America and expected to do great things with his college degree.

Heart and humor go hand in hand in this charmingly told tale of a family learning to live within their dreams. ( )
  Lorelai2 | Apr 12, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Windfall makes for a very enjoyable way to pass some time. The characters are amusing - rather Jane Austen in Delhi. Two intelligent, balanced woman are trying to navigate major life shifts while maintaining their integrity, sanity and decorum while most of the men seem bent an making asses of themselves.

The Jha's have just made a fortune through the sale of Mr. Jha's website. Now, he is eagerly moving his family from a middle class housing development in clamorous, crowded East Delhi to posh digs in Gurgaon. Mrs. Jha is hesitant about the move. A quiet, unassuming, gracious woman, and seemingly old-fashioned woman, Mrs Jha is actually a trailblazer. After marriage and the birth of her child, she continued her career as an intermediary between traditional artisans and the city markets. We meet the Jhas on the evening in which they have gathered their close friends from the housing complex for a dinner party to announce their move. Mr. Gupta, envious and brash, doesn't make this easy. On the other hand the widow Reema Ray tries to smooth the way. Son Rupak makes an appearance. He is home for break from school in Ithaca, NY (no, not Cornell) where he is working on his MBA, without much success. As his parents navigate their big announcement, he is consumed with how to tell his parents about his Red, White and Blue American girlfriend.

At last they move to their upscale bungalow where Mr. Jha engages in an unspoken game of one-ups-manship with his tacky neighbor Mr. Chopra, the proud owner of a Bollywood-esque ceiling painting of Michelangelo's Creation of Man in his domed entry way. A skewed nouveau-riche logic pervades this contratemps - for instance, having a slacker son to support is desirable since it proves you are wealthy enough to support him. Meanwhile, Mrs. Jha languishes in the quiet and peace of Gurgaon.

As a dear side story, a nice little gem, Basu finds a match for the lonely Mrs. Ray. The relationship allows her to examine the pros and cons of the old ways and the new ways in the mating game. Both she and her new friend are delightful. I wish that they had been more developed. This would be the one thing I would like to have seen, more development of - Mrs. Ray, and also Mrs. Jha. Their story though is a quieter one which would also mean less of the wry comic standoff between Jha and Chopra. Basu actually achieves a nice balance of comedy and thoughtfulness. Yet, I do think The Mrs. R and J might warrant a story all their own.

This book was made available to me through Librarything's Early Reviewers program in trade for an honest review.
  lucybrown | Mar 31, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was given an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

People having been writing stories about class, manners, and society for as long as there have been class, manners, and societies. In the West, we are used to reading Shakespeare, Shaw, and so many more writing about the follies of their peers. So it is an absolute delight to read a very well written book about a people and a culture that is still “foreign”. Instead of an English drawing room, Diksha Basu has set “The Windfall” in modern day India. Everyone in this story is so consumed with outdoing everyone else that they forget how to simply be themselves. The characters are drawn with an eye that is both loving and snarky at the same time.

“The Windfall” is an absolutely charming book and I can not wait to read what Basu comes up with next. ( )
  Felliot | Mar 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This delightful novel follows the Jha family as they move from a poorer part of East Delhi to the wealthy suburb of Gurgaon after Mr. Jha sells his business and becomes a millionaire overnight. The family leave their small apartment, as well as the friends they have known for many years, and move to a large, gated house, in a neighbourhood where people tend to keep to themselves. This is truly a comedy of manners; misunderstandings abound, and each character is not afraid to make clear their views on wealth, class and how one should or shouldn’t display those in modern Indian society. Throughout the novel, Mr. and Mrs. Jha are thoroughly likable, and navigate their new social status with integrity, empathy and joy. Their desire to remain grounded clashes with their realisation that the money they now have means they can live whatever life they want.
Their son, Rupak, is studying business at college in Ithaca, NY (no, not that one). He is dangerously close to losing his place on his MBA program, and is in love with a white American woman (both of which facts would horrify his parents, if they knew). As the novel progresses, Rupak too begins to question his role in the world, and whether he actually wants what he has long desired. Should he seek a job in the US, or should he return home to a Delhi which has much-changed in recent years? And will he ever tell his parents about Elizabeth?
This debut novel is a wonderful book, and comes highly recommended. For those interested in modern Delhi, and the Indian diaspora, this is a must-read. It is a lighter read, and provides the reader with many laugh-out-loud moments, but definitely tackles some difficult issues. ( )
  chazzard | Mar 22, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a fun read ! I enjoyed the story, the humor and the writing style. This novel was a light hearted look at cultural differences not only between races but between classes as well. Diksha Basu has a great sense of humor and a quirky way of telling her tale. I was grateful to be given the chance to review this book. Not sure if I would have picked it up on my own but I can safely say that having read it, I would recommend it highly. Will also watch for any further titles by Ms. Basu. We read to imagine and to learn...it is fun to be able to do so light heartedly at times. ( )
  faceinbook | Mar 22, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451498917, Hardcover)

A heartfelt comedy of manners for readers of Seating Arrangements and Crazy Rich Asians, Diksha Basu’s debut novel unfolds the story of a family discovering what it means to be nouveau riche in modern India. Hilarious and wise, The Windfall illuminates with warmth and charm the precariousness of social status, the fragility of pride, and, above all, the human drive to build and share a home. Even the rich, it turns out, need to belong somewhere.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 06 Feb 2017 19:47:08 -0500)

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