The Golden Son
The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter returns with an unforgettable story of family, responsibility, love, honor, tradition, and identity, in which two childhood friends—a young doctor and a newly married bride—must balance the expectations of their culture and their families with the desires of their own hearts.
The first of his family to go to college, Anil Patel, the golden son, carries the weight of tradition and his family’s expectations when he leaves his tiny Indian village to begin a medical residency in Dallas, Texas, at one of the busiest and most competitive hospitals in America. When his father dies, Anil becomes the de facto head of the Patel household and inherits the mantle of arbiter for all of the village’s disputes. But he is uneasy with the custom, uncertain that he has the wisdom and courage demonstrated by his father and grandfather. His doubts are compounded by the difficulties he discovers in adjusting to a new culture and a new job, challenges that will shake his confidence in himself and his abilities.
Back home in India, Anil’s closest childhood friend, Leena, struggles to adapt to her demanding new husband and relatives. Arranged by her parents, the marriage shatters Leena’s romantic hopes, and eventually forces her to make a desperate choice that will hold drastic repercussions for herself and her family. Though Anil and Leena struggle to come to terms with their identities thousands of miles apart, their lives eventually intersect once more—changing them both and the people they love forever.
Tender and bittersweet, The Golden Son illuminates the ambivalence of people caught between past and present, tradition and modernity, duty and choice; the push and pull of living in two cultures, and the painful decisions we must make to find our true selves.
Praise For The Golden Son: A Novel…
— Heidi Durrow, New York Times-bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
“THE GOLDEN SON triumphs because of its many pleasures and complications: romantic intrigues, family vendettas, unexpected tragedies and criminal secrets harbored by characters in both India and America. This satisfying immersion in two complicated cultures offers no easy resolutions.”
— Washington Post
“Gowda is a gifted storyteller, bringing together various related story strands into a fully integrated whole.”
— Vancouver Sun
“From a poor village in India to the journey of a boy who escapes to become a brilliant and sensible doctor at a high-tech medical center in Dallas, Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s sweeping love story is meticulous in its detail, heartfelt--and a great read.”
— Samuel Shem, M.D., author of The House of God and At the Heart of the Universe
“Shilpi Somaya Gowda paints an illuminating portrait of a young Indian man who must learn to reconcile his career ambitions in America with the traditional values and expectations of his family in India. Compellingly written, THE GOLDEN SON will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. ”
— Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times-bestselling author of The Language of Flowers
“Gowda has the writerly chops when it comes to pace and plot...The novel’s denouement manages to subvert expectations, while still fulfilling the fable’s responsibility to convey a useful, resonant truth.”
— Toronto Star
William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062391469, 432pp.
Publication Date: November 29, 2016
About the Author
Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Her previous novels, Secret Daughter and The Golden Son became international bestsellers, selling over one million copies worldwide. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. How does the author use the prologue—entitled “Maya the Harelip”—to illustrate the pressure and expectations placed on Anil’s future?
2. How does the author use detail and description to show a sharp contrast between Anil’s lifestyle in Texas and his upbringing in India?
3. How does taking on the mantle of arbiter complicate Anil’s life and his identity?
4. Anil is struggling to acclimate to the social world of medical school, but he also struggles to fill his father’s shoes. Which role does he seem more reluctant to adopt? Why do you think this is?
5. In what way can we view the dispute of the mango tree as a metaphor?
6. Leena’s plight is certainly not that of every woman in the world, nor every woman in India, but it is reflective of a society that does not value women as much as men, particularly when her path is compared to Anil’s. Can you think of an example of systemic inequality between the sexes in your community or culture? Has there been a time when you’ve seen a woman’s worth put way below a man’s?
7. How do Anil’s and Leena’s dreams and youthful ideals shift over time?
8. Were you surprised by Leena’s decision at the end of the novel? Why or why not?