Picture of author.

Sopan Deb

Teoksen Keya Das's Second Act tekijä

2 teosta 136 jäsentä 8 arvostelua

Tekijän teokset

Merkitty avainsanalla


20th century



Note: I received an ARC of this book at ALA Midwinter 2020.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
fernandie | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Sep 15, 2022 |
It's a rewarding experience to come across and to discover a new talented writer. Not only this novel felt relatable to me (who, though not a Bengali, can relate to this culture in so many ways, through marriage), but I also appreciated the deeply painful aspects of life's vicissitudes that all the characters were going through and the way each one was handling it all in their own way. It was certainly inspirational. Apart from the plot, the writing itself was quite good as well.
1 ääni
Merkitty asiattomaksi
Clara53 | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Aug 6, 2022 |
I have been posting my frustrations with this book all through the reading process, and my GR friend James has indicated he is is rubbing his hands in excitement waiting for one of my passionate (some might say, unhinged) rants when I read a bad book. I fear I might disappoint James. The overall badness of this book definitely sparked a reaction, but it also left me with a sense of torpor. I am swimming in the muck of aggressive meh-ness. There is no passion. If this book were sex, t would not be hate sex, it would be "damn, I forgot to pay the water bill and I need to schedule a teeth cleaning and are-you-done-yet" sex.

I read this because I was committed to consuming a proper beach read. Though I am still working full-time, I spend several weeks most summers in Northern Michigan at the beach. One of the great joys of these summer getaways is walking down to the beach at the end of the workday and reading. I also spend many weekend days reading on the beach. Lots and lots of sitting and reading. As I have mentioned in other reviews, I am really bad at choosing beach reads. In recent years my favorite "Up North" (that is what we say in my original home state of MI) reads have been Matterhorn, Intimacies, and The Great Believers. All magnificent books, but not one a beach read. Don't get me wrong, I have read plenty of romance during this time too, but I am too vain to read those outside the confines of the house. So this year and last I forced myself to pack a couple true beach reads. I have now incontrovertibly established that I am really very bad at choosing beach reads. Last year I chose Last Summer at the Golden Hotel, and this year it was this piece of dross. (I did read Evie Drake Starts Over one year, so it is the exception that proves the rule -- it is a perfect beach read, but it stands alone.)

This book is about a Bengali family that belittles their teenage daughter/sister, the titular Keya, when she comes out as a lesbian, and then she dies (it is not clear if by suicide or accident) while they are still not speaking. Lots of grief and guilt and family fractures. Five years later they discover a box of Keya's things in the attic. In the box is a play Keya was writing. They set in motion a plan to ease their pain by producing the play. (This is all on the back cover but not in those words.) What is not on the back cover is that there is a significant secondary plot about the dead girl's sister's (Mitali) boyfriend (Nish) who did some bad things and is trying to rebuild his life. That plot merges with the central plot and the whole goes from bad to worse.

If these characters had been developed at all I am pretty sure I would hate every last one. I don't hate them because they are not people, they are constructs. They ARE the-many-faces-of-grief. It would be like hating a mall Santa. There is the father, Shantanu - an impassive, thoughtless. depressed, loveless, and friendless academic . who overnight, for no reason at all other than he takes an improv class, becomes an intuitive, risk-taking, articulate chick-magnet with an off the charts EQ. Next is the sister Mitali - lonely, loveless, friendless, hard-working ad content creator with the intellectual curiosity of a slug and a sense of humor to match. There is a mother who has remarried. I can remember neither her name nor the new hubby's name about 10 hours after finishing the book. Both are boring and new husband is rich (which figures into the story.) There is Nish. He is broke and friendless and has no interests other than drumming and also has Dark Secrets. He is Mitali's boyfriend because they are both lonely so they hook up. There are some secondary characters too, and the are even less developed than the main characters, and trust me when I say that seems impossible. The director of the play is the worst of a bad lot. It is a popular expression these days to say something is "cringe" and I don't know that I have ever read anything that more honors that colloquialism. This is not simply "cringeworthy". This character is certainly worthy of being cringed at. For me though, every time the director said anything I cringed reflexively, there was no decision of whether to cringe, no assessment of worthiness, the character was just one big cringe. If he had been better drawn I think he would have been repellant. The thing is, he is supposed to be comic relief I think. Oh, and there is dead-Keya's GF who is so underwritten that every time she showed up I thought, "one minute, who is Pamela again.?" Oh, and there is Shantanu's mother who does nothing but cook and say "chee chee chee." I could throw in a few other side characters, but it would not add much.

So after all that I imagine people are thinking this must be plot-driven. Not so much. I guess it is intended to be plot-driven? The central plot is as underwritten as the characters, and FWiW so completely absurd and improbable it could only work as parody, which was clearly not the intent. The main secondary plot was about Nich's bad life choices when he was young and how they set him on an unfortunate path. There is one single unquestionably dramatic and maybe-sad scene with Nich and his father which I think is supposed to explain his choices and it is so afterschool special it made me laugh. (It was the only time I did.)

If the writer had not worked as a culture writer for the New York Times I would have guessed he knew nothing at all about theater or music, and if he was not from a Bengali family I would have guessed he learned about them from reading or watching films. Whenever the grandmother showed up I felt like I was watching Bend it Like Beckham (a movie I love for the record) listening to the mothers chatter and say things like ""At least I taught her full Indian dinner. The rest is up to God." or "Lesbian? I thought she was a Pisces!" Everything in this book is so thin and wan most of the time, and so silly when he tries to color things in. Deb wrote what he knows, but it just doesn't feel like he knows it at all.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
Narshkite | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 31, 2022 |
Keya Das's Second Act is an adequate family drama. Read my full review here.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
joyblue | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 7, 2022 |


Arvio (tähdet)

Taulukot ja kaaviot