Author(s): Amitava Kumar
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
ONE OF THE NEW YORKER'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A singularly smart, engaging, and moving novel about a young immigrant in search of himself, and love, in the wider world.
Carrying a single suitcase, Kailash arrives in post-Reagan America from India to attend graduate school. His new friends in New York City teasingly call him Kalashnikov, then AK-47, then AK. He takes it all in his stride: he wants to fit in--and more than that, to shine.
As he begins to settle into American existence, AK comes under the indelible influence of a charismatic professor--also an immigrant, his personal history as dramatic as AK's life--and his perception of himself--are the very different natures of the women with whom he recklessly falls in and out of love.
Looking back on the formative period of his youth, AK is studiously observant and meditative and, in the moment, the boisterous embodiment of idealism, confusion, and chaotic desire. His wry, vivid perception of the world he is in, but never quite of, unfurls in a brilliant melding of anecdote and annotation, picture and text, that digs deep inside the varieties and vagaries of the immigrant experience. Building a case for himself, both as a good man in spite of his flaws and as an American in defiance of his place of birth, AK weaves a story that is at its core an incandescent investigation of love--despite, beyond, and across dividing lines.