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Go Home Paperback – Import, 7 Sep 2016
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Although certainly not intended as a metaphor for life, his protagonist discovers the mistake he made when purchasing a used Ford Pinto. (Remember? The model whose gas tank was apt to explode when involved in a rear-end collision.) The Pinto provides additional suspense as the reader wonders if catastrophe awaits Viraf ("rhymes with giraffe") as he searches for tranquility.
In no way has Fracis written a screed espousing the cause of immigrants. His writing is far too subtle for such an obvious approach. Even so, with today's political environment, we encounter a visitor to the U.S. who thinks he will return home, but who finds that home is illusive. Finally, as he gets "contract" work in various parts of the U.S., we see him fitting into life as a man of the world.
The protagonist, Viraf is an immigrant's immigrant with a complex mosaic of allegiances and cultural mores all the more useful in examining our own culture. It is piercingly honest, detailed and careful look at what America looks like in the broadest possible sense from cultural and social rituals to spelling and pronounciation of common English words. The book is certain to have passages that resonate with all immigrants though those from South Asia may feel it most of all.
He deals of course with culture shock; but he also deals with reverse culture shock on his visits back home. Reverse culture shock comes about from shedding the cloak of normalcy we all have within our own originating cultures, shielding us from certain unpleasant local issues.
The stories of assimilation and observing how others assimilate both forced and real will also ring true with anyone who has been part of a group with outsiders desperate to fit in. The conflicting forces of detachment, xenophobia and friendship of this new culture is well told providing an honest look on what assimilation in America is all about
Finally it is also the story of Viraf growing up and finding himself and pondering the question of where is home forced upon all immigrants and in fact a question forced upon all who have moved long distances with material differences in culture.