In a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian Americans has settled into lives that straddle the divide between Eastern and Western cultures. For some, America is a bewildering and alienating place where coworkers can’t pronounce your name but will eagerly repeat the Sanskrit phrases from their yoga class. Harit, a lonely Indian immigrant in his mid forties, lives with his mother who can no longer function after the death of Harit’s sister, Swati. In a misguided attempt to keep both himself and his mother sane, Harit has taken to dressing up in a sari every night to pass himself off as his sister. Meanwhile, Ranjana, also an Indian immigrant in her mid forties, has just seen her only child, Prashant, off to college. Worried that her husband has begun an affair, she seeks solace by writing paranormal romances in secret. When Harit and Ranjana’s paths cross, they begin a strange yet necessary friendship that brings to light their own passions and fears.
Rakesh Satyal's No One Can Pronounce My Name is a distinctive, funny, and insightful look into the lives of people who must reconcile the strictures of their culture and traditions with their own dreams and desires.
"It says something about both the reach of Satyal's story and his wry skill as a storyteller, that, while I was reading, I kept thinking of Barbara Pym . . . No One Can Pronounce My Name explores the politics of sexual identity, as well as the immigrant and first-generation American experience, but, unfashionable as it may sound, the novel's greater achievement lies in the compassionate, comic way it explores the universal human experience of loneliness.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s “Fresh Air”
"Rakesh Satyal’s funny, big-hearted book is an interrogation of the possibilities of immigrant literature . . . Because Satyal’s cast is so diverse it’s easy to miss that he’s giving us the universality we hear so much about."—The New Republic
"A hilarious and touching account of navigating American society and the divide between Eastern and Western cultures."—Washington Blade
"An extraordinarily compassionate work of fiction . . . Through a successful blend of pathos and humor, Satyal bravely explores themes of intimacy, identity and sexuality, asking his characters—and his readers—to closely examine the inalienable qualities that make us all human. With emotionally charged prose, he masterfully depicts the modern-day immigrant experience in a manner that is both deeply personal and universally relatable, transforming the foreign into the familiar."—BookPage
"A big-hearted, hopeful, and often very funny novel about the unpredictability of love . . . as well as a celebration of how, in America, it's never too late to rethink who you are—or who you might become. Satyal has created a set of characters you'll cheer for."—Hanya Yanagihara, New York Times bestselling author of The People in the Trees and A Little Life
"Affecting, kindhearted, and infectiously readable, No One Can Pronounce My Name is full of memorable characters joined by their yearning to belong. Rakesh Satyal spins a funny and unpredictable multigenerational tale that glitters with warmth and wisdom."—Maria Semple, New York Times bestselling author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, and Today Will Be Different
"This humane, moving, and very funny book offers something precious and rare: a novel devoted to the life-giving bond of friendship. Through a quintessentially American tale of misfits and dreamers, Rakesh Satyal has given us a fresh vision of America: a country of strangers seeking connection, of households lit with contrary desires, held together by resourceful and enduring love."—Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
"No One Can Pronounce My Name is a warm, life-affirming story of reckoning with past secrets, forging unexpected bonds, and finding the strength to be yourself. This big-hearted, utterly charming novel explores immigrant experience and family life with humor and compassion."—Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You
"Rakesh Satyal writes with both tender empathy and sly wit, and his characters are vulnerable, admirable, and idiosyncratic. No One Can Pronounce My Name beautifully explores the challenges of asserting individuality in the face of societal and cultural proscriptions. Movingly and believably, Ranjana and Harit find each other, and then, thanks to their lovely friendship, themselves."—Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man and The Astral
"Satyal expertly describes the everyday struggles that define his characters, and he elevates the extraordinary moments of normal life in this skilled and thought-provoking novel."—Booklist (starred review)
Reviews from Goodreads
HARIT DESCENDED THE RUBBER-COATED STAIRS of the bus and tripped as he jumped to the sidewalk below. He turned around to see if anyone had noticed, but the bus was already pulling away, leaving a dispersing cloud of smoke and people. It was a short...