"A vivid portrait of second-generation immigrants . . . Sawhney is pitch-perfect when describing the uneasy relationship between adolescents and their parents." The Times Literary Supplement
Siddharth Arora lives an ordinary life in the New England suburb of South Haven, but his childhood comes to a grinding halt when his mother dies in a car accident. Siddharth soon gravitates toward a group of adolescent bullies, drinking, and smoking instead of drawing and swimming. He takes great pains to care for his depressive father, Mohan Lal, an immigrant who finds solace in the hateful Hindu fundamentalism of his homeland and cheers on Indian fanatics who murder innocent Muslims. When a new woman enters their lives, Siddharth and his father have a chance at a fresh start. They form a new family, hoping to leave their pain behind them.
South Haven is no simple coming-of-age tale or hero's journey, blurring the line between victim and victimizer and asking readers to contend with the lies we tell ourselves as we grieve and survive. Following in the tradition of narratives by Edwidge Danticat and Junot Díaz, Sawhney draws upon the measured lyricism of postcolonial writers like Michael Ondaatje but brings to his subjects distinctly American irreverence and humor.
"An affecting tale of a family's loss, a child's grief, and the search for solace in all the wrong places. Hirsh Sawhney is an incandescent voice in fiction." Laila Lalami, Pulitzer Prize finalist
"This luminous debut . . . captures precisely the heartache of growing up." Library Journal
"A raw portrait of a motherless family . . . poetic." The Village Voice