- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
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 ...
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.
Debut short-story collection explores the lives of gay Indian-American men caught between multiple cultures.
The quarantine in Mehta's eponymous story is not a medical situation but a kind of forced cultural dislocation imposed, as quarantines often are, for the benefit of those secreted away. Typically it's the elderly parents of Indian immigrants who must endure a painful relocation to move in with their adult children who are bound by competing feelings of duty and guilt. Trapped in a country they don't understand, they lash out at their reluctant caretakers. The stories are told by fully assimilated American-born grandchildren who sometimes know less about India then their grandparents know about America. That many of the stories are set in West Virginia and all of the narrators are gay makes for a unique worldview. "Citizen," a sweet story about a young man's attempts to help his senile grandmother prepare for American citizenship, displays a comic touch, whereas "Quarantine" and "A Better Life," which open and close the collection, are considerably darker. Mehta is also interested in same-sex relationships, especially when they are on the verge of failing. These stories of couples on life support offer an abundance of bittersweet moments. Not only must these young men navigate the minefields that all people in love must meander through, but they must also deal with the strain of explaining their homosexuality to parents who grew up in cultures far less permissive than those in which they have raised their children. A mother's pragmatic question—"So who does the cooking and cleaning?"—contains as many layers as an onion.
A rich study of family ties, romantic failings and cultural disconnection told in crisp, clean prose.
Posted May 28, 2011
This is an entertaining insightful nine story anthology that focuses on gay second or third generation Indian-Americans coping with being a sexual preference minority that is amplified by their respective family's elders clinging to the old country's culture. Each entry is well written and as a collection thought provoking but few attain profundity in part due to the format. In "Quarantine", a grandson takes his male lover to meet the family patriarch though he fears the older man will not accept his being gay as his parents are at best tepid towards his significant other. The lovers travel to India where they hide their hurt from a general disdain towards gay lovers as being an inane westernization. An octogenarian grandma wants to become an American "Citizen"; so her grandson trains her for the test, but she fails anyway. His parents consider his brother "The Better Person" because he married; while he is in a gay relationship in which his family refuses to recognize his significant other whether it is the sibling wedding or a trip to India. The remaining five entries also explore family acceptance or rejection of an offspring's gay relationship.
Posted October 17, 2012
No text was provided for this review.