Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu | Book Review

From the internationally bestselling author of The Windfall. . . . What could go wrong at a lavish Indian wedding with your best friend and your entire family?
Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu filters extravagance through the itinerary of a weeklong Indian wedding, following a blended Indian immigrant family and their friends journeying from New York to Delhi to celebrate one couple’s vows, and finding their own unexpected happy-ever-afters. Basu introduces a whole host of characters, each interesting in their own right, and formats the novel like a reality show to treat the reader to one revealing clip after another, connecting them through similarities and differences for segue and contrast. chapter headings are descriptive sentences that seem to be revelatory but are also titillating because they hint at but never really give away what is to come. Take for instance the first chapter entitled, “JFK Airport: Their flight is delayed due to technical reasons and everyone is secretly wishing airlines didn’t announce that and make passengers nervous” which focuses on what the travelers are using as a vehicle for their separate anxieties as they embark on their trip, concerns that come to a head at the departure terminal but that aren’t limited to nervousness about travel. The novel opens with the adult daughter lamenting that her mother is bringing a boyfriend to the wedding but that she is arriving without a date, meanwhile her father is concerned that his white replacement will look better in Indian clothes than he does and is therefore traveling in a turtleneck which gives him a headache because Esquire magazine says the shirt will give a dignified appearance.
I found the writing to be humorous but endearing because while Basu invites you to mock the stereotypical characters, she also shows you their insecurities and solicits your understanding and empathy. So she offers the stories of the Indian who succeeded in assimilating in the US but has no identity to pass on to his child and that of the child who mourns the loss of family and looks for meaning in their professional lives. By presenting the haves and the have-nots, both of whom struggle with the same basic issues, Basu offers a look past the characters’ superficial fixations and into deeper, universal concerns.
Through a series of flash backs that could be as sudden as a character’s sharing a memory or a conversation about a long ago experience, we get glimpses into the characters’ motivations, feminist reversals by showing us women in power in various situations, even if it’s just an elderly woman resisting her son or a woman refusing the advances of a man.
There is a lot to enjoy in this political but pleasurable prose. This ranked highly on my entertainment scale.

Note: I received a free Netgalley download courtesy of Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

Book Details

Title: Destination Wedding
Author:  Diksha Basu
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication date: June 30, 2020

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