... 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.