The Konkans Paperback – 1 Jun 2008
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'A droll, collage-style, cross generational novel that takes in his parents' cultural conflicts' -- Metro<br \><br \>'Appealing character-driven humour... often tinged with melancholy... the tensions shaping immigrant life... are memorably portrayed.' --Independent on Sunday
'Frequently funny, sometimes poignant... he never shies away from the big questions of migration, assimilation and reinvention' --The Independent
'Told with warmth, humour and finesse, The Konkans is a richly layered novel'
-- Historical Novels Review
From the Back Cover
"There is a kind of freshness and bubbling wonder in this book, the sense of a writer genuinely searching for answers." -- The Washington PostFrancisco D Sai is a firstborn son of a firstborn son all the way back to the beginning of a long line of proud Konkans, the Jews of India, who abandoned their Hindu traditions, knelt before Vasco da Gama s sword and Saint Francis Xavier s cross, and became Catholics. In Chicago circa 1973, Francisco s Konkan father, Lawrence, does his best to assimilate into American culture. But Francisco s American, Peace Corps veteran mother, Denise, and his uncle Sam are passionate raconteurs set on preserving the family s Konkan heritage, feedingFrancisco s imagination with proud visions of India and Konkan history. Like his acclaimed debut Whiteman, Tony D Souza s The Konkans is an absorbing portrait of assimilation filled with romance, comedy, masterly storytelling, and the truth of family in any country."D'Souza's compelling tale of one extended family's trials and triumphs in a foreign land is an astute glimpse of the challenges, dangers, and rewards of assimilation." -- The Boston Globe"[F]unny and romantic and heartbreaking..." -- St. Petersburg TimesTONY D SOUZA is the author of Whiteman, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist and winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize. A Guggenheim fellow, his fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Playboy, Tin House, the Literary Review, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and elsewhere. He lives in Sarasota, Florida." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product description
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When Francisco is still a child, two of Lawrence's brothers arrive unexpectedly on their doorstep--helped into the country by Denise. Lawrence resents their presence in the basement quarters he has been forced to set up for them in his house, as Sam and Les, make themselves quite loudly at home singing, dancing, and enjoying their freedom. Rowdy and debonair, they adapt quickly to their mixed Hispanic neighborhood, where they are popular additions to the local nightlife.
Soon Sam is telling his nephew Francisco about his Konkan culture, regaling him with stories and family history, along with the story of how the Konkans came to be a Catholic culture among the Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims of larger India. According to Sam, St. Francis Xavier, for whom Francisco has been named, came to the west coast of India with Vasco da Gama in the sixteenth century, converting Indians and building churches to celebrate both Catholic and Portuguese culture. The converts were the Konkans.
Filled with wonderful mini-dramas about several generations of characters, the novel resembles a collection of short stories from the sixties through the present. Sometimes humorous, it also deals with serious questions of cultural adjustment and conflict, which become more pressing as the novel evolves. Genuine feeling is evoked for the characters as they share their stories, draw conclusions about their lives, and "adjust" their memories to reflect what they sometimes wish for, instead of reality. The novel lacks the sort of sharp focus and unity of spirit which would allow the reader to draw important conclusions about a variety of themes, but it is entertaining, enlightening for the depiction it gives of an unusual culture and the challenges of all immigrants who try to blend into a new culture while preserving what is important from their own. n Mary Whipple
D'Souza clearly and simply conveys the story through Francisco, a boy who grows up in America with his Detroit-born mother and his Konkan father, along with two uncles who arrive from India entirely reliant upon Francisco's family.
His father Lawrence works hard to provide and strives to climb the corporate ladder. Trials and temptations reveal the battle between devotion to tradition and thirsty desire. Francisco grows up to learn the importance of being the "firstborn son of a firstborn son of a firstborn son." Dialog between relatives is honest and heartfelt and paints a family portrait accented by brilliant highlights and deep shadows.
At times, I forgot the words I read described events born in the author's mind. This is not in any way a biographical work, but is so true to life, I felt that I knew these people as I walked with them in foreign lands.
D'Souza maintained interest with his captivating storytelling, which made this book much like a sunset walk on the beach. Words in his hands blended the verdant colors of India with well-sewn threads of suburbia into an enduring tapestry of diversity and familial love.
Armchair Interviews says: A fictional family you'll be glad to know.
Lovely writing, and an extremely well-crafted narrative.