By Diksha Basu
The Windfall is a story about a family in New Delhi that comes into money later in life when the father, Mr Jha, starts a website that that gets bought out for millions. After receiving this windfall, Mr. Jha and his wife to decide to move from an apartment in the modest east Delhi community that they have lived in for over thirty years, to a house in Gurgaon, a wealthy new enclave where there is no noise, little street traffic and everyone drives fancy cars. While they make this move, their son Rupak, who is getting an MBA in upstate New York, grapples with life in the United States, and a relationship he is in with an American woman.
This is a family story that explores what it means to have wealth. The Jha’s have more than enough money to buy their house in Gurgaon, but flounder in the new culture, where Mrs. Jha’s cotton saris make her look like a maid and where Mr. Jha feels they must buy matching luggage before they fly business class to visit Rupak in New York. Mr. Jha knows the luggage will be checked and barely visible during their journey, but he wants to make the right impression while standing in line at the airport. It’s also a look at contemporary India and what it means to be a young Indian who goes to the US to study and the pressures that choice brings. Most of the drama revolves around the move in to the house and the issues that come up as Mr. and Mrs. Jha settle in to their new world.
Basu has a lovely writing style and has created an engaging cast of characters. By the end, I felt like I was right there with the Jha’s in their living room, drinking imported alcohol, sitting on their Swarovski couch (also imported, from Japan), and talking about joining the local country club. If you enjoy a family drama, or books about South Asia, this is an entertaining tale that looks at a side of Delhi that I’ve barely seen depicted in fiction.
I read about this book in the Poets and Writers “First Fiction” issue that came out this summer. I started this blog after reading about so many interesting debut novelists in that issue five years ago. I continue to find their list to be a good way to learn about new authors and books.
Basu lives in New York, but is originally from Delhi.