For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, cut corners, gossipy neighbors, and the small dramas of stolen yoga pants and stale marriages. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha comes into an enormous and unexpected sum of money, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status: skinny ties, hired guards, shoe-polishing machines, and all.
The move sets off a chain of events that rock their neighbors, their marriage, and their son, who is struggling to keep a lid on his romantic dilemmas and slipping grades, and brings unintended consequences, ultimately forcing the Jha family to reckon with what really matters. Hilarious and wise, The Windfall illuminates with warmth and charm the precariousness of social status, the fragility of pride, and, above all, the human drive to build and share a home. Even the rich, it turns out, need to belong somewhere.
The premise of this story had potential. A family in Delhi sell their website, obtaining a lot of money very suddenly, allowing them to relocate to an upscale neighbourhood on the other side of town. The Windfall follows the family as they learn how to navigate their new world of privilege and excess.
The only likeable, realistic character in this story was Mrs Ray, the widowed family friend struggling to settle into her life in a society that has no place for her. Widowed at a young age with no children, she is constantly navigating the line between what she wants for herself and what is expected of her. I found every other character is this book obnoxious. They were selfish, oblivious to the consequences of their actions, and entirely self-serving. Which would be fine, if that was their purpose and they were interesting or at least realistic. Instead, they were shallow and one-dimensional.
I was excited for a different cultural perspective on wealth and privilege and while the tone of the book seemed honest and true to Indian culture, the characters prevented any ability to enjoy the story.