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Immigrant Montana

Author: Amitava Kumar

Words: Approximately 95000

I picked up the book expecting it to be some sort of a memoir. My expectations were not completely shattered as each chapter blended into another, however I never felt the euphoria of relating, which I usually felt while reading memoirs! When I say ‘relating’, I mean the similarities in circumstances, or in relationships, or in dilemmas, or even in struggles that a reader often identifies with the author’s own experiences, and that’s what makes memoirs so personal, and emotional and gritty. But I might add the fact that I have read five memoirs written by three female authors, and two by male authors including this very recent one. I have immensely enjoyed the first six memoirs because it felt like the authors stripped their experiences naked and put it in front of the reader as it is. Kumar might have done the same thing with his writing however it filled my cup of ‘relating’ halfheartedly. I am guessing may be because he is a man, so his experiences, perceptions and reactions to circumstances and story telling would perhaps be different than from a woman, and that could have affected my reading experience as well as expectations.

The title was purely the only reason why I picked up the book at a book fair. The word ‘Immigrant’ took my attention! I assumed that a book written by an Indian immigrant would have stories of excitement, disappointments, cultural shocks, struggles, triumph, and all the other nuances of an immigrant life! It had romance though. A reasonable part of it did. And that part was good writing. Not the typical hyped up Indian author’s mediocre writing that makes romance look more vulgur than poetic. Kumar is fluent in expressing romance in a tasteful manner without an ounce of overdone! It was actually enjoyable! The rest of the book was about his life as a Literature Masters student in NYC all the way from Bihar. Just the sound of it might make you want to pick up the book but it has its pitfalls, like the ones I shared above! May be if I was a student like him, I would have enjoyed reading his chronicles more. But working from the age of 17 made me a different person. A person that considered an expat student life to be a luxury that not everyone could afford. So, at your own risk, you may give Kumar’s IMMIGRANT MONTANA a read!

A 5/10 for this book from me, atleast for now! May be I might have a broader perspective to appreciate this book more in my forties and fifties! We’ll see.

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