The Hindu review

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.