Synopses & Reviews
With buoyant humor and incisive, cunning prose, Rahul Mehta sets off into uncharted literary territory. The characters in Quarantine
—openly gay Indian-American men—are Westernized in some ways, with cosmopolitan views on friendship and sex, while struggling to maintain relationships with their families and cultural traditions. Grappling with the issues that concern all gay men—social acceptance, the right to pursue happiness, and the heavy toll of listening to their hearts and bodies—they confront an elder generation's attachment to old-country ways. Estranged from their cultural in-group and still set apart from larger society, the young men in these lyrical, provocative, emotionally wrenching, yet frequently funny stories find themselves quarantined.
Already a runaway success in India, Quarantine marks the debut of a unique literary talent.
"Polished if placid, the stories in Mehta's debut often revolve around artsy, educated protagonists trying to navigate young adulthood as gay Indian-American men. In the title story, a young Indian-American man takes his boyfriend, Jeremy, home to West Virginia to meet his parents and his overbearing grandfather, Bapuji. The narrator resents having to hide the fact that he is in a gay relationship from his grandfather, and has conflicted feelings when the old man hits it off with Jeremy. Another displaced grandparent appears in 'Citizen,' where 80-something Ranjan bombs her U.S. citizenship exam despite weeks of lessons from her aimless grandson, Pradeep. While the older generation struggles to adjust to life in the States, the first- or second-generation protagonists encounter their own identity crises as well. In 'Floating,' Darnell and his boyfriend, Sid, take a trip to India, where they juggle the pain of homophobia and the guilt of privilege after having been scammed. Guilt plays out more flamboyantly in 'The Cure': having learned that his immigrant parents have become millionaires, the narrator develops a habit of burning money literally. While ethnic and sexual identity are central to Mehta's protagonists, the book is most successful in its treatment of postgraduate angst, love, and rejection, and the torment of artistic ambition. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“QUARANTINE is an extraordinary book that transcends gender and race and culture and sexual identity to speak to our universal humanity and the quest we all share for a self.” Robert Olen Butler
“Mehtas voice is smart, intimate without being over-the-shoulder, tells secrets from the armchair, and always gestures toward something inexplicable and heretofore unknown in the next room. The stories in this collection make me want to burn money, to have more courage and to fall in love.” Rebecca Curtis, author of Twenty Grand and Others Tales of Love & Money
“Quarantine is an insightful and compellingly readable collection of stories in which Rahul Mehta masterfully explores the emotions, the conflicts, the complex accommodations of being gay and Indian American.” Manil Suri, bestselling author of The Death of Vishnu and The Age of Shiva
“There are great realistic relationship stories [in Quarantine], of meetings, breakups, and the times in between...patrons will read it because of the promise evidenced by this young writer.” Booklist
“Because Rahul Mehtas characters are so richly and deeply rendered, because action and situation are so closely observed, these stories transcend all the categories that they are also determined to cut across. Quarantine is the best first collection I have read in over twenty years.”l Madison Smartt Bell
“The stories in Rahul Mehtas Quarantine amplify a surprising new voice: gentle, even tender, but powerful.” Pankaj Mishra, author of Butter Chicken in Ludhiana
“A rich study of family ties, romantic failings and cultural disconnection told in crisp, clean prose” Kirkus
“Traversing queer love, sex and the myths of cultural conservatism, this young writer…challenges the legitimacy of the American Dream.” Lambda Literary
“Thestories in Rahul Mehta's Quarantine
amplify a surprising new voice: gentle, even tender, but powerful." —Pankaj Mishra, author of Butter Chicken inLudhiana
Reminiscentof Jhumpa Lahiris Interpreterof Maladies and the work of Michael Cunningham, Rahul Mehtas debut shortstory collection is an emotionally arresting exploration of the lives ofIndian-American gay men and their families. Manil Suri, the New YorkTimes bestselling author of The Death of Vishnu and The Age ofShiva calls Quarantine “an insightful andcompellingly readable collection of stories in which Rahul Mehta masterfullyexplores the emotions, the conflicts, the complex accommodations of being gayand Indian American."
About the Author
Rahul Mehta received his MFA from Syracuse University, where he was the Cornelia Carhart Ward Fellow. Portions of Quarantine have appeared in New Stories from the South, The Kenyon Review, The Sun, Epoch, Noon, and Fourteen Hills. Mehta lives with his partner in Alfred, New York, and teaches at Alfred University.