For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, cut corners, gossipy neighbors, and the small dramas of stolen yoga pants and stale marriages. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha comes into an enormous and unexpected sum of money, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status: skinny ties, hired guards, shoe-polishing machines, and all.
The move sets off a chain of events that rock their neighbors, their marriage, and their son, who is struggling to keep a lid on his romantic dilemmas and slipping grades, and brings unintended consequences, ultimately forcing the Jha family to reckon with what really matters.
This is a sweet little comedy about a man who gets everything he has ever wanted in life–money, standing, security–but finds it is not as easy living as he expected it to be. The saying “Money doesn’t buy happiness” is proven in The Windfall, but thankfully, he does find happiness in other ways.
The story takes place on two fronts: In India, with the Jha’s move between neighborhoods; and in New York, with their son Rapak at Ithaca College. I loved the contrast of Mr. Jha trying to take on more modern (as he sees it) American lifestyles, while his son is in New York clinging to his Indian youth. It’s an interesting tug-of-war–perhaps especially for someone who is not Indian, as the stereotype we normally read/see is the opposite.
The overall tone of this book is cheerful and awkward, and for that I absolutely loved it. Basu includes the inner monologues of the parties in as situation as if she’s jumping in and out of each head in a circle, so we get everyone’s perspective of the human awkwardness. It’s quite delightful to see that you’re never the only one weirded out by a conversation.
There’s something in The Windfall for everyone, I think. It’s the perfect book to take you from summer to winter–curl up with this one and watch the leaves fall. Trust me on this, even the title says autumn, right? The Windfall.
Crown Publishing provided a copy of this book for unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.