A deep look into racism

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In MEMBERS ONLY, Raj Bhatt is an Indian man born in Bombay that moved to America when he was eight. Now middle-aged, he is an Anthropology professor at a university in California. His wife Eva is a white woman born and raised on the West Coast. After they move back to California, they join the tennis club that Eva used to go. In one week, at a committee meeting for potential new members, in an effort to connect with an African American couple, he makes a racist joke. Later in the week, his job is in jeopardy after a group of his college students accuse him of being reverse racist.

This book is mind-blowing good - Raj's dream of a more diverse club and his desire to find the sense of belonging were so realistic and sadly true. Pandya does a fantastic job of portraying Raj's struggles to find his place in life and in the community, a harsh reality of an immigrant/ non-white person. I sympathized with Raj's frustration with people's microaggressions and the succession of unpleasant events, while he was heavily criticized and even "condemned" for his errors. The discrepancy between these responses is infuriating and the author invites us to take a profound look into the racism.

With such a craft, Pandya weaves in ideas of racism, identity, bullying, immigration, parental responsibility and religion, challenging us to better understand different cultures and have different perspectives. Furthermore, I loved the passages about Indian culture and I found them very absorbing. MEMBERS ONLY is a thought-provoking and character-driven novel that I highly recommend.