sanjit-singh2Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Are You Indian? is not a book to judge by its cover. Sanjit Singh’s volume thrives on an in-your-face farce-type of comedy writing about what it means to be a native Asian from India living in the United States. The author writes candidly, and uses long-faced caricatures (not my favorite images, some are unpleasant and creepy to look at) of his “people” to illustrate the main points in the book. The point is–how can anyone understand the principles of Indian culture, rituals, home-life and family traditions without being from India? Well, reading this book will make anyone an expert of sorts.

First the reader is encouraged to take a short quiz to determine if the person is “really Indian”. To be clear, “real Indians” are then distinguished from Indian wannabes and non-Indians. Singh then goes on to explain the early stages of an Indian child’s life, such as the family unit, the home life, the social aspects, how names are chosen and college career expectations. He also delves into the typical characteristics of people he classifies as “fresh off the boat” from India.

I have to admit, when I first picked up the book, I didn’t know what to expect and did not find it funny so I put it down. A few days later, I picked it up again and pretended to be Indian (if that was even possible). After this experiment, I found the book very funny indeed, and laughed at many of the passages out loud. You will only “get” or understand this book and why it is hilariously funny if you read it with an “insider” mind set. You will need to be ready to participate in the humor from the inside out and you will find it well worth the time to discover more about Indian culture.

This book is NOT recommended for children, so don’t let the cartoons fool you. There is plenty of adult humor, explicit language, sexual references, and images such as scantily clad women in cartoons and overly buxom women not fit for the young’uns. But for adults, yes, it is a funny book, and I would  gladly give it as a birthday present to a friend or use as a stocking stuffer at a holiday gift exchange. Or, if you’re traveling these Holidays, buy it for yourself–you’ll definitely have something to talk about with the person sitting next to you on the plane.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sanjit Singh. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.