The Golden Son: A Novel

The Golden Son: A Novel

by Shilpi Somaya Gowda


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The Golden Son: A Novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter returns with an unforgettable story of family, responsibility, love, honor, tradition, and identity, in which two childhood friends—a young doctor and a newly married bride—must balance the expectations of their culture and their families with the desires of their own hearts.

The first of his family to go to college, Anil Patel, the golden son, carries the weight of tradition and his family’s expectations when he leaves his tiny Indian village to begin a medical residency in Dallas, Texas, at one of the busiest and most competitive hospitals in America. When his father dies, Anil becomes the de facto head of the Patel household and inherits the mantle of arbiter for all of the village’s disputes. But he is uneasy with the custom, uncertain that he has the wisdom and courage demonstrated by his father and grandfather. His doubts are compounded by the difficulties he discovers in adjusting to a new culture and a new job, challenges that will shake his confidence in himself and his abilities.

Back home in India, Anil’s closest childhood friend, Leena, struggles to adapt to her demanding new husband and relatives. Arranged by her parents, the marriage shatters Leena’s romantic hopes, and eventually forces her to make a desperate choice that will hold drastic repercussions for herself and her family. Though Anil and Leena struggle to come to terms with their identities thousands of miles apart, their lives eventually intersect once more—changing them both and the people they love forever.

Tender and bittersweet, The Golden Son illuminates the ambivalence of people caught between past and present, tradition and modernity, duty and choice; the push and pull of living in two cultures, and the painful decisions we must make to find our true selves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062391452
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/26/2016
Pages: 408
Sales rank: 1,020,029
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.

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The Golden Son: A Novel 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written and very believable story that captures you from the start to the spastic page.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! This story has family drama, culture and history, kept me interested to the end.
LauraFabiani More than 1 year ago
In 2011, I read and reviewed Secret Daughter, Shilpa Somaya Gowda's debut book. I loved it and wondered if The Golden Son would live up to her first novel. Let's just say that I flew through the pages of this one and was immediately drawn in from the first page. This is a novel rich in characterization and culture, filled with gems of wisdom and depth. The novel is the story of Anil Patel, the elder son of a respected family in a village of India, who decides to become a doctor and pursue his medical residency in Dallas, Texas at one of the best known hospitals in America. Anil experiences immigrant issues--new culture and attitudes, prejudice, modernized lifestyle and the wonder of modern medicine. He learns some tough lessons all while juggling the traditions of his own culture and family. This is also the story of Leena, a close childhood friend of Anil who lives in Anil's village in India and who eventually gets married and experiences abuse at the hand of her husband's family. At some point Anil and Leena's life reconnect and their life lessons will combine to bring about positive change and healing for both their families. I simply loved how the author was able to seamlessly intertwine the Indian and American cultures and the struggle to find one's identity when part of both cultures. The lush descriptions of the Indian village and farmlands, its people and their lives shone through as equally as did the adrenaline rush of the exhilarating but exhaustive medical residency in a big hospital of a modern metropolis. It is evident that Gowda understood and researched both settings and cultures well. The unspoken but understood ways of doing things in the small Indian village, especially when it came to arranged marriages and dowries versus the medical jargon and competitive nature of the residency were clear evidence of her extensive research. It is these subtle but powerful bits of information that makes this novel so good, so satisfying to read, and such a pleasure for info junkies like me. I love learning new things as I read. Well-written, evocative, emotional and exotic, The Golden Son is the second book from Gowda that will once again capture not only readers who loved her first book, but anyone who loves to read literary fiction rich in culture and characterization. This book has made it to my Best Reads of 2016 list. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy. I chose to willingly write an honest review.
NorthwestReader More than 1 year ago
The Golden Son introduces us to Anil, a young man from a rural part of India. He has moved well beyond the long established family expectation of farming the land and, as the book opens, he has just completed medical school in an Indian city that is not only a geographical journey from the family farmlands, but it is a major expedition into a world where education and opportunities are vast. But medical school in India is only a beginning for Anil who applies for and gets an internship at a prestigious hospital in Texas. The book details much of his internship which is, of course, fraught with many challenges endemic to medical internships. Gowda portrays these medical scenarios with skill and verisimilitude. Perhaps the more interesting aspect to the book is the issue of Anil having to straddle two very different cultures. His mother sends him off to Texas with strong reminders to maintain his Hindu diet, abstain from alcohol, and to not date American women. His entire family expects him to finish his medical training and then return to India where he will practice medicine and the family will arrange a bride for him. Anil is able to find two Indian men to share an apartment with and this allows Gowda to further explore just how difficult and complex it is to balance personal aspirations with family expectations compounded by balancing two very different cultures. This is a well written book. The characters are interesting and Gowda gives them depth and complexity. The plot is interesting and it does not conclude how I thought it would. This book is an excellent choice for book clubs and could launch an interesting discussion about transitioning between two cultures; what we keep from the old culture and what we adopt from the new, what are a family’s expectations of a son or daughter who goes to a new country, how one can maintain relationships with family and friends on both sides of this divide, what is the emotional cost of straddling two cultures, and so on.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
Anil has known since he was a boy that he would be a doctor. His father had bigger plans for him than farming the fields of India, as has been his family's history for generations. Now Anil finds himself far from the only home he's ever known, serving his residency at a hospital in Texas. Rooming with two other young men from India, Anil settles into the complicated life of living as an American. Anil gets word that his father has died, and being the oldest son he is what is known as The Golden Son. He is expected to take on the role of village arbitrator now that his father is gone. This is complicated by the fact that Anil is so far from home, but he does his best to fulfill his duty. I enjoyed this story. It's a nice exploration of Indian culture, family dynamics and hospital politics. Anil and roommates Baldev and Mahesh become like brothers. They grow and mature together, navigating adulthood and dealing with the demands of their jobs and parents. After lives spent growing up somewhat sheltered, America has new dangers and temptations for each of these young men to handle. While following Anil, there is a side story going for Leena, childhood friend of Anil and his sister Piya. Leena finds herself in an arranged marriage that is less than happy, and later finds herself in a compromised position. There are a lot of very likable characters in this story. Anil is a man of great ethic and commitment. His roommates are likewise good men. His sister Piya is sweet and funny with a mind of her own. Leena is guarded, but charming and smart and dedicated. My final word: It's unfortunate that I wound up battling the flu while reading and reviewing this book. I'm suffering from brain fog, and feel that I just can't do this book justice. It's a light and easy read, full of likable characters, with enough conflict to hold your interest. It's a great introduction to India and Indian culture (although it seems that not everything portrayed in the book as part of common Indian culture may really be that, as the author did use some creative license). I found myself especially fond of Anil and Leena. I would not hesitate to recommend this book. I only wish I hadn't been too sick to really relax and enjoy this story fully.