*** Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyan

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss stars an aging and famous economist who, after a bike accident in England, is told to reduce his stress. He has lived his whole life as a brainy professor, aloof, divorced from the real world, and, not surprisingly, estranged from his wife and adult children. Surely, it will be a cinch to show his children that he is smart and always right.

He arranges a sabbatical at what is clearly UC Irvine but very strangely called UC Bella Vista (why? not clear; there’s another passage in the book when he sees the Great Lakes while flying from Hong Kong to California, so the writer may be geography challenged). While there, he tries to connect with his struggling teenage daughter, attends a new-age retreat at Esalen, and tries to understand his son’s self-help business in Hong Kong (hence the strange plane route). The story exposes him, very sweetly,  as the misanthropic, clueless person he’s always been, and delightfully does not end on a complete success, although he does take huge stride towards a more human version of itself. Very funny but also a very kind portrait of a nerd trying to reform.

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