A hybrid work of fiction and nonfiction, set in the 1990s, about a young Indian immigrant to the United States in search of love: across dividing lines between cultures, between sexes, and between the particular desires of one man and the women he comes to love.
...while Immigrant, Montana can be described as an academic novel, its eccentricities and erotic obsessions take it on unpredictable tangents ... Over the course of the book, Kailash muddles his way through several love affairs with women whom he portrays vividly without having much understanding of either them or himself (a neat trick on Kumar’s part). The tensions he feels between the land he left behind and the country he has adopted are considerable, too ... Immigrant, Montana is intelligent, melancholy, quirky. At a time when feelings run high over which immigrants get to call themselves American, Kailash’s idiosyncratic voice adds a welcome tonic note to the debate.
The new book falls between genres. Its aim is not to tell a story, exactly, but to create a portrait of a mind moving uneasily between a new, chosen culture and the one left behind ... In reclaiming and exaggerating the erotic conceit of Donne’s 'To His Mistress' ('O my America! my new-found-land'), Kailash is effectively insisting that the immigrant be seen in his full humanity, in all his wanting-to-get-laid-ness ... There is comedy in the older Kailash looking back, and down, on the younger Kailash; and there is tragedy, too—in his inability to say things directly, he fails to articulate his desires, or understand someone else’s ... The lyrical flights of Lerner’s 10:04 or the witty dialogues between woman and tossed coin in Heti’s Motherhood have no equivalents in Kumar’s 'in-between novel.' But, in its essayistic passages, Immigrant, Montana does channel the pleasure of the most satisfying nonfiction books, the ones in which the reader sees the old anew.
...it’s a frustration in this otherwise rich, searching book that, because its perspective stays so close to his, these women seem more thinly imagined than he. They morph and shrink under his projections: 'I had fallen in love with her, and with her prose. Her perfume and her lips too. No, with her prose and her lipstick' ... Each time one of them leaves, it deepens the book’s pervasive sense of contact longed for and lost.