The Hindu review of Return to India here
The human mind when faced with criticism reacts in a formulaic way– which as a lifelong student of psychology– interests me. There is denial, rejection, scorn, and rationalization. I went through all this as I read this harsh review. The first bit is true. Lots of people have said that the immigrant phenomenon is old and overdone. Agreed. But this is a book that I had to write and so I did.
It is the second bit that I found mean-spirited, particularly when Ms. Roy calls me “daft” and my husband balanced. This then is the tough bit about being a memoirist. Memoirs are tough because your family, friends, spouse and children will read them. And some of them populate your tale. How do you write about people you love in a way that makes a book read-able? You can make everything hunky-dory, like Nancy Reagan did and make everyone perfect. But then…. There is nothing worse that a syrupy memoir that sugar-coats everything. What if you can’t– you don’t want to– be too harsh in describing the parents, friends, and family who populate a memoir? The only solution is to make yourself ‘daft.’
The real critique of the book, and one that Ms. Roy hasn’t written is this: why haven’t I made myself more daft? As an aspiring humor writer, I agree with the analysis that my book is “unflinchingly honest.” Many people have said this. What I wish I could do is to take all the personal neuroses that I let hang out, and somehow exaggerate, aggrandize them like Mary Karr did; or David Sedaris does. But I don’t have the skills for that. Not yet. If I could have; I would have. So instead, here I go, providing fodder for more critiques.