Review: Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar

YesMyAccentSource: Borrowed 
Publisher: Atria 
 eBook, 272 Pages
 Memoir Non-Fiction 
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

Of all the charming misfits on television, there’s no doubt Raj from The Big Bang Theory — the sincere yet incurably geeky Indian-American astrophysicist — ranks among the misfittingest. Now, we meet the actor who is every bit as loveable as the character he plays on TV. In this revealing collection of essays written in his irreverent, hilarious, and self-deprecating voice, Kunal Nayyar traces his journey from a little boy in New Delhi who mistakes an awkward first kiss for a sacred commitment, gets nosebleeds chugging Coca-Cola to impress other students, and excels in the sport of badminton, to the confident, successful actor on the set of TV’s most-watched sitcom since Friends.

Going behind the scenes of The Big Bang Theory and into his personal experiences, Kunal introduces readers to the people who helped him grow, such as his James Bond-loving, mustachioed father who taught him the most important lessons in life: Treat a beggar as you would a king. There are two sides to every story. A smile goes a long way. And, when in doubt, use a spreadsheet. Kunal also walks us through his college years in Portland, where he takes his first sips of alcohol and learns to let loose with his French, 6’8” gentle-giant roommate, works his first-ever job for the university’s housekeeping department cleaning toilets for minimum wage, and begins a series of romantic exploits that go just about as well as they would for Raj. (That is, until he meets and marries a former Miss India in an elaborate seven-day event that we get to experience in a chapter titled “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.”)

Full of heart, but never taking itself too seriously, this witty and often inspiring collection of underdog tales follows a young man as he traverses two continents in search of a dream, along the way transcending culture and language (and many, many embarrassing incidents) to somehow miraculously land the role of a lifetime.

Reviewing a memoir/auto-biography is just weird…it sort of blurs the line of the “don’t bring the author’s personal life into a review” rule that I have. How do you review a book that is solely based on a person’s life? I mean what if you hated it? Awkward….I suppose it’s a good thing I enjoyed the stories Kunal had to tell.

I used to watch Big Bang Theory during the first 3 seasons, but sort of fell out of love with it (for reasons I won’t touch on here). However I had two favorite characters, Sheldon and Kuthrapali, and while I know a bit about Jim Parsons I realized I didn’t know anything about Kunal. Yes, My Accent is Real is more of a collection of stories from throughout his life rather than an A to Z type novel, and it’s definitely a good selection! Each of the stories pin points an important part of Kunal’s life, for whatever reason, each injected with some humor and plenty of hindsight commentary. I loved getting to know more about each of the Indian festivals on a personal level, but I think my favorite section was his wedding. There is one chapter though that talks about his dad’s love of outdoor stores that got the biggest smile of me though.

It’s a fairly  quick read, and most of the stories only last a few pages so it was pretty easy to breeze through it in a couple of sittings. It still feels weird to critique someone’s life story, but I will say it’s well written and Kunaal is really easy to relate to even if he is famous.

I’m glad I’m getting back into non-fiction, it’s been a long time since I’ve read so many in such a short period but it’s been  a welcomed change so far.

4 stars

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