Book Review – An American Brat by Bapsi Sidhwa
“Pakistan’s finest English-language novelist“! That’s what New York Times Book Review had to say about Bapsi Sidhwa, the author. About the novel it says “… heart rending real and intimate … a powerful and moving tale“.
Well every word of it is indeed true. Though I have not read many Pakistani novelists but can say this piece of work would surely rank among the top class.
An American Brat, set in late 70s, is a story of a Parsi-Zoroastrian teenage girl from Pakistan who is sent to America by her parents to amend her ways. Back home in Pakistan she is shy and does not socialize at all so her parents thought that a short stint in America with her uncle would develop her personality and would make her more forthcoming.
The book beautifully captures America’s essence from a visitor’s perspective who has been there for the first time. Also worth noticing is the constant lecturing by her uncle on small petty things about how to behave and live life in America; how to pronounce certain words; how and why not to look at strangers . The latter part of the book looks at the American social life closely and how a person from a developing country would react to it.
The ending pages of the novel reflect the clash of different cultures resulting in some drama and some funny moments. Her parents are forced to think whether the decision to send her to America was correct! Whether they have not made the mistake of their life by asking her to holiday in USA!
The book is fast paced though it drags a bit in the beginning. It is descriptive, funny and emotional making it a typical Hindi movie. A good read overall.