Book Review: The Windfall by Diksha Basu

The WindfallThe Windfall by Diksha Basu
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: June 27, 2017
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

A heartfelt comedy of manners, Diksha Basu’s debut novel unfolds the story of a family discovering what it means to “make it” in modern India.
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. Hilarious and wise, The Windfall illuminates with warmth and charm the precariousness of social status, the fragility of pride, and, above all, the human drive to build and share a home. Even the rich, it turns out, need to belong somewhere.

Windfall is the story of the Jha’s, who live in East Delhi in India. Mr. Jha has just sold his website for 20 million dollars. The Jha’s are moving out of their middle class neighborhood, where they have lived for decades, to a rich suburb. This turns out to more of a culture shock than either of them could have imagined. Mr. Jha becomes involved in a very intense “keeping up with the Jones’s” battle with his new neighbors, the Chopras. He is frantically trying to learn how to be a “real” rich person. Mrs. Jha, on the other hand, feels almost guilty about becoming wealthy and leaving her friends in the old neighborhood behind. She is reluctant to give up her old ways. For instance, she still take bucket baths, even though the new house has an actual shower.

Ms. Basu writes as if the reader has a basic working knowledge of India and Indian culture. I read quite a bit of Indian literature so I didn’t have a problem understanding anything (with the exception of a bath mug vs. toilet paper. (I found some very interesting YouTube videos about that!) An average reader may have to look up a few words, but nothing that would be consequential to understanding the overall story.

After reading Windfall, I totally get the comparisons to Crazy Rich Asians. The Jha’s aren’t billionaires but they are new money and adjusting to it in a funny and often ostentatious way. The conversations Mr. Jha and Mr. Chopra have in which they try and one-up each other are cringe worthy. Poor Mr. Jha.

I love both books set in India and comedies of manners. Windfall is the perfect combination of the two – making it just the right book for me! If you’re looking for your next summer read, put Windfall on your list.

(I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.)

  • rhapsodyinbooks

    This sounds really good. Thanks for posting the review!