If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel
Thank you to Flat Iron Books for my free finished copy in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads Synopsis: “In stories that are moving, thoughtful, entertaining, and discomfiting all at once, Neel Patel upends what we think the experience of Indians in America looks like. It’s about time.” –Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty
In these eleven sharp, surprising stories, Neel Patel gives voice to our most deeply held stereotypes and then slowly undermines them. His characters, almost all of who are first-generation Indian Americans, subvert our expectations that they will sit quietly by. We meet two brothers caught in an elaborate web of envy and loathing; a young gay man who becomes involved with an older man whose secret he could never guess; three women who almost gleefully throw off the pleasant agreeability society asks of them; and, in the final pair of linked stories, a young couple struggling against the devastating force of community gossip.
If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi examines the collisions of old world and new world, small town and big city, traditional beliefs (like arranged marriage) and modern rituals (like Facebook stalking). The men and women in these stories are full of passion, regret, envy, anger, and yearning. They fall in love with the wrong people and betray one another and deal with the accumulation of years of subtle racism. They are utterly compelling. Ranging across the country, Patel’s stories — empathetic, provocative, twisting, and wryly funny — introduce a bold new literary voice, one that feels more timely than ever.
Review: I’ve never actually reviewed a collection of short stories before, and I don’t read them often so I was skeptical about how I would feel about this book. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I absolutely loved each and every story. They each feature Indian Americans and their culture, but more importantly, they are all about the human experience. The stories are all so raw, authentic and utterly heart-wrenching. There wasn’t a single story that I didn’t like, but my favorites were Just a Friend and These Things Happen. I also loved that the last two were connected, although they all felt tied together in a way.
This book has left me much more receptive to reading short story collections in the future, and I’m so glad I read it.
Genre: Short Stories/Fiction
Publisher: Flat Iron
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Page Count: 224
Overall Rating: 5/5