Books·Canadian

The Golden Son

Shilpi Somaya Gowda's coming of age novel was published in 2015.

Shilpi Somaya Gowda

From the beloved author of Secret Daughter comes a moving new novel of a young man at the crossroads of life

Anil is the cherished son of a large family in rural India. As the eldest boy, he is expected to inherit the role of leader of his clan and arbiter of its disputes, dispensing wisdom and good advice. Leena is his closest companion, a fiercely brave girl who loves nothing more than the wild terrain they inhabit and her close-knit family. As childhood friends, they are inseparable — but as adulthood approaches, they grow apart.

Anil is the first person in his family to leave India, the first to attend college, the first to become a doctor. Half a world away in Dallas, Texas, he is caught up in his new life, experiencing all the freedoms and temptations of American culture: he tastes alcohol for the first time, falls in love, and learns firsthand about his adopted country's alluring, dangerous contradictions. Though his work in a gritty urban hospital is grueling, Anil is determined to carve out his own life in America.

At home, Leena dreams of marriage, a strong and true love like the one shared by her parents, and leaves her beloved home to join her new husband's family in a distant village.

Then things start to go wrong: Anil makes a medical mistake with tragic results, his first love begins to fray and a devastating event makes him question his worth as a doctor and as a friend. On a visit home, Anil rekindles a friendship with the woman who seems to understand him better than anyone else. But their relationship is complicated by a fateful decision made years earlier.

As the two old friends discover each other again, they must also weigh the choice between responsibility and freedom, and between loyalty and love. (From HarperAvenue)

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From the book

The mango tree had been there for years, decades even, without causing any problems between the neighbors. Manoj Uncle, not technically an uncle but a family friend, had lived on the same plot of land for as long as Anil could remember. He and his brothers had played there, along with their cousins, who lived in the neighboring house. As boys, they would climb up to pick the unripe mangos, still green and hard as rocks, using them as balls in their cricket games. In the summer, when the golden fruit ripened on the tree, they shook the branches and enjoyed the spoils. They tore off the stems and squeezed the fruit pulp from the skin right into their mouths, competing to see who could consume the most. When they'd had their fill, the boys gathered up the remaining mangos from the ground and pelted them at each other until they were covered in sticky sweetness and flies began to swarm. They were wasteful, Anil was ashamed to remember, the way children can be with things they have in abundance. Only when something was precious did it become valuable. Mangos. Sleep. Approval.


From The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda ©2015. Published by HarperCollins Canada.

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