Andrea’s Pick of the Week: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

Professor Chandra, noted Cambridge economics professor, has been passed over for the Nobel Prize. Again. Estranged from his family, and realizing that the prize may be forever out of his reach, he finds himself adrift. After an unexpected bicycle accident, he takes a temporary position in Orange County and tries to reconnect with his ex-wife and youngest daughter, now living in Boulder. Through a series of odd events, he goes to a retreat center on the California coast – and no one is more surprised than Chandra himself when he realizes he has begun to change.

Chandra is a classic literary curmudgeon: 69 years old, set in his ways, convinced of his own rightness. His driving ambition and dedication to his work caused his wife to divorce him, and his ideological rigidity alienated his older children. His journey to self-understanding, or at least self-awareness, is the heart of this book. His dry, sometimes fatalistic wit keeps things from becoming maudlin. Even as I was frustrated by Chandra’s obstinacy, I found myself cheering for him. Hopeful but not overly sentimental, this is a book about family, forgiveness, and second chances.

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