The Windfall: A Spoiler Free Review

First of all, I’m so proud of this picture so I really need you all to fawn over my photography skills for me (even though it’s not at all technically great).

Secondly, this book was fascinating. Essentially, it’s a book about Mr. and Mrs. Jha who are moving from their solidly middle class neighborhood to this way fancier neighborhood and then Mr. Jha loses his mind in an attempt to keep up with the Joneses. We also follow their son, Rupak, who is studying for his MBA in Ithaca, NY at Ithaca College not Cornell. My favorite character, widowed Mrs. Ray, who is close friends with Mrs. Jha and the best. Finally, we have some chapters that follow Mr. Chopra, who I (a) disliked immensely and (b) is one of the new neighbors in the fancy part of Delhi.

I’m struggling to articulate how I feel about The Windfall because there was a lot to enjoy, but I’m not sure it’s what I was in the mood for. Kevin Kwan describes it in a blurb on the back as hilarious satire, but it made me more uncomfortable than amused. This review from The Blind Rabbit talks about the satirical aspect of this novel and compares it to Jane Austen, which I thought was an apt comparison. (Note: This review is not #OwnVoices either, but has a level of analysis that I really, really enjoyed.) It’s difficult though when you’re following a lot of characters and sometimes you’re too close to the character’s embarrassing actions, that if you’re me, you’re getting secondhand embarrassment that makes you want to put the book down and hide under your blankets. (It should be noted that I get severe secondhand embarrassment and had to leave The Duff because I needed a break from my feelings. Most people are highly unlikely to have this experience.)

Essentially, this book really is about Mr. Jha and Mr. Chopra’s competition (largely internal) about who is the most rich and that basically means throwing money away? That’s what it felt like at any rate. Meanwhile, Rupak is busy not studying for his MBA and smoking pot and dating Elizabeth, the woman he claims to be in love with, but repeatedly indicates that she could literally be any other American white woman.

And then you have the star of the show, Mrs. Ray. There is nothing not to love about Mrs. Ray, in my opinion. She is a young widow who is sort of figuring out who she is and kind of creating this identity that is uniquely hers in a Delhi that is an India meeting Western culture. I really, really loved her storyline.

Overall, Dikshua Basu wrote a debut novel that I think was very well-written and enjoyable, even though it wasn’t precisely what I wanted at the moment. The end of this novel though? Perfection.

Have you read this book? What did you think?


P.S. I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

P.P.S. Latin Lector’s review of this book is one that originally piqued my interest so I wanted to leave it here for you all. He talks about the culture shock the Jha’s experience when they visit NY and how similar it is to the stories he’s heard from his family members, even though that was a different culture.

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