... smart, intentionally comforting ... Balasubramanyam plays all this with a combination of gentle satire and sincerity that sometimes dips more than just a toe into schmaltz ... What makes this mostly okay — even for the spiritually-averse — is the meatiness of the arguments Chandra gets into with his children, his brother, and some of his fellow workshop participants ... Balasubramanyam knows how to flex irony as if it were another bendable body part ... Professor Chandra is a wonderful character — stodgy, flawed, contentious, contemptuous — yet vulnerable, insecure, lonely, repentent, and ridiculous enough to win our sympathy ... In the end, Balasubramanyan's novel is a sort of Christmas Carol for a new age — in which uplifting sentiment comes drenched not in treacle but in potfuls of soothing organic herbal tea.
... Rajeev Balasubramanyam delivers a comic delight as his 70-year-old scholar sets off to find inner peace ... The comic tone of the novel provokes many laughs, but it conveys with a real sense of the author’s compassion that finding peace is actually bloody hard work.
Balasubramanyam – something of a Zen exponent himself – balances satire and self-enlightenment in his first novel in nearly 20 years – a surprisingly soulful family tale that echoes Jonathan Franzen’s Corrections in its witty exploration of three children trying to free themselves from the influence of their parents.
... [a] smart, engaging comedy of errors crossed with a charming late-stage coming-of age story ... Accompanying Chandra as he sets about untangling the knots in his personal life is both uplifting and entertaining. The language of spiritual healing comes naturally to Balasubramanyam, and he deploys it to great effect in this superbly relevant story for our times ... Balasubramanyam weaves weighty topics such as familial estrangement and teenage drug use into his tender, enchanting novel with a nimble but substantial touch. The end result is strong on optimism with a vital message for mankind: one must be willing to change and look inward if one wants to improve personal relationships and help those we love.
Balasubramanyam demonstrates with insight and a dash of humor that it’s possible to turn one’s life around after everything goes wrong ... Chandra is genuinely transformed—though perhaps a bit too easily. Balasubramanyam makes a winning case for how meditation, restraint, self-reflection and owning one’s character flaws can bring joy and satisfaction to life.