Pulling off a cross-cultural novel that is sea apart in various aspects is a work of great accomplishment. Kelly Unger understands the tiniest nuisances and differences that look small but create a rift as deep as ocean. In her debut novel ‘In a Time of Fools’, she sketches the grim shades of college life of abroad students and uncertain love bonding of Lena and Aakash.
‘In a Time of Fools’ is an objective title. The world despite a place of global localization still suffers from prejudices of caste, racism, conservative filial thoughts, etc. Two people fall in love, want to live together, want to have children and family but their societies aren’t agreeing. What kind of the world is that we are living in? Isn’t we are tech advanced but mentally backward.
Kelly weaves a careful tale of heartbreaks, differences of culture and countries, and grooming. Her travel experience is evident in her prose-like narrative, which is not only detailed but also deep. No action or adventure, yet the delicacy of the story draws in, creating an influence of emotions of various shades, vagaries, and vicissitudes of life.
Lena is a resident of the USA, feels being familiar in the ambience of Madison, Wisconsin. Aakash hails from Bangalore, India. Back there his family is middle-class, conservative, and hopes that the only son will to do something to support a shopkeeper father. Their expectations and Aakash’s life in Madison are contrasting. Lena and Aakash aren’t that salt-of-the-earth couple, yet they grew into one another inseparable. Aakash looking for Indian roots in Madison, his roommates all Indians, from the same city. Lena fell for his silent aroma and handsome looks. Both are pursuing same degree in the same college. Silently but strongly their love blossoms! The people around them, mostly roommates and classmates have their initial hiccups but with time tags along them.
Kelly’s detailed and rich descriptive of people, their appearance, streets, beer bars, customs…is vivid and unhurried. She takes time with her characters. The student fraternity ambience is lovingly captured, especially in the first part. The second part of the novel declares the relationship status of both. However, when Aakash goes to India to see his dying father, she didn’t expect a vapid response from him.
Then and there, Aakash is confounded and surrounded by the reality of his family and country. Kelly, like a citizen of India, paints their family and other social issues, especially of Aakash’s chances of marriage to an Indian girl.
Back in the States, Lena and her family longs to accept Aakash in their family. But something else was stored for both of them. Lena is grappled in mental health issues due to pregnancy; on the other hand, Aakash is swaying with no exact moral choices in his city. Both thinks of each other but something stops them one moment, but the next moment they think of breaking all barriers…but it isn’t that easy. As the reality of the world dawns upon them, they silently burry themselves in their grieving worlds. Love in a cross-cultural environment is not only tough but also becomes obstinate and inaccessible amidst the circumstances.
“In a Time of Fools” is a slow-moving romance novel that has intensity and feelings rolled up in one bundle despite being aware that Lena and Aakash are so out of league for each other, neither of them expected to grow so closely in love. Kelly’s careful and tender narrative is exceptionally heartfelt.
Buy the book from Amazon/Kindle