Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 May 2019

Member Reviews

Despite expectations, Professor Chandra is passed over for the Nobel Prize in Economics. Again. He brushes off condolences, determining that it had been his last chance to hope, for the world was moving on without him. As he drifts into auto pilot with a side of grumpiness, he wanders in front of a bicyclist, causing him serious injuries and a silent heart attack. At the hospital, the doctor tells him to cut back on everything and follow his bliss, which he decides to do in California as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at UC Bella Vista. He ends up going to a spiritual retreat offered by his wife’s second husband. Balasubramanyam brilliantly portrays a self-important man disconnected from others through self-sabotage stemming from his background and rigid personality. Dear Reader gets to see all that Dr. Chandra does not communicate, and how much more complicated he makes relationships that matter the most to him, building tension and engaging sympathy for a challenging character. Though reminiscent of Barbara Claypole White’s father in The Perfect Son in his inability to see others and clinging to his ideas that are not serving him, Dr. Chandra wouldn’t dare consider that he might have OCPD, as White’s character determines and enters therapy. He prefers to muddle through on his own, pleading for understanding. It’s intriguing and leads to revelatory confrontation. Fans of anti-heroes will appreciate Dr. Chandra and his struggles. I was fortunate to receive this complex and enlightening story of facing one’s mortality through life-altering paradigm-shifts from Dial Press / Random House by NetGalley.
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This one was extremely disappointing for me. It was extremely high on my list of most anticipated reads because of the comparisons to Eleanor Oliphant and A Man Called Ove (2 of my favorite books ever), but I didn’t find this to be an accurate comparison at all, and didn’t really see any resemblance to either. I found every single one of these characters extremely unlikeable, and just couldn’t connect with them at all.  I set this book aside several times over the course of the last 6 months, hoping if I came back to it with zero expectations and a different mindset that I would enjoy it more, but I’m sorry to say it just didn’t happen. I do greatly appreciate the opportunity to read it and provide my honest opinions.
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I was very intrigued by the description of this book, and it did not disappoint. 'Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss' was an interesting take on generational differences, ageing parents and unconventional lives.  The front cover suggested that this would be a light-hearted read, and although it had considerable comedic aspect, it was a deep and thoughtful book in which a sixty-nine-year-old looked back on his life and looked forward to the things he could do differently. This was a deeply enjoyable book and I loved how my feelings towards Professor Chandra changed as he began to understand himself. A fascinating and satisfying read and well worth five stars!

With gratitude to Random House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this novel.
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I honestly did not think I would enjoy this book; however, I was immediately caught up in the life of Chandra and his family. The book was both, ordinary and extraordinary and I'm not entirely sure why. I appreciated that the characters in the book were not necessarily folks you want to fall in love with and root for from beginning to end. They grew from time to time and felt much more realistic than other characters in other books I read. Chandra was honest and, while I often cringed at his words and actions, I found myself wanting to see what would happen next. I appreciated the author's style of writing and actually liked learning a bit about economics too! I recommended this title to my husband and several friends- we all like different things in the books we read and, somehow, I think this book is able to meet the needs of each person!
I did find that when I was done reading the book it wasn't as memorable as it could be. (Hence the four stars rather than the five.)
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My review may be a bit unfair because I just couldn't finish the book. I think I expected it to be a like Fredrik Backman's "Britt-Marie Was Here" or "A Man Called Ove," in which uptight, severe older follks learn to open themselves up to life a bit more (but still on their own terms). I just didn't find enough in the main character to want to stay with him on his journey.
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The title wasn't very inspiring, but after reading the description, I decided to take the risk, and I am glad I did. I hadn't expected it, but this story touched me in many different ways. 

The author has woven a humorous tale of  family dynamics that everyone can identify with. The pressure of parental expectations and the choices children make to either accept or reject those burdensome expectations is one strand of the story. The other, is a father growing older and out of touch with his children, and coming to a realization that being right may not be as important as just listening. 

The characters are complex, but the story rings true. Professor Chandra is a bit self obsessed, in a way that is typical of most academics. He has worked hard all of his life to get to the epitome of the academic ladder - being nominated for the Nobel prize. The observations of the Chicago school, neo-liberal economic model that the Professor has dedicated his life to, are quite funny. 

His ex-wife and children are viewed through analytical lens of an economist, albeit with love, if not understanding. It is only when he discards the rational, academic world view that has given meaning to his life, that he begins to truly see the people around him. 

The story is  humorous, sad and happy, a reflection our own lives and family relationship, just narrated by a keen observer of the nuances of a life 'well lived'.
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I'm not sure what bliss Professor Chandra is following, or how he's following it, but he's an interesting guy to read about.  A distinguished professor of economics, has just been denied the Nobel Prize (again), he is hit by a bicycle and suffers a heart attack, forcing him to take a break, under doctor's orders.  And he does try.  He tries to reconnect with his children, and attends a mindfulness retreat.  He learns a lot about himself, and his children, but I didn't really see where the bliss comes in, since he's mostly just as conflicted at the end as he is in the beginning, if a bit gentler about it.

Bliss, not so much, but Chandra himself does come to understand and accept a lot about himself and his past mistakes.  His journey, with all its missteps and imperfections, is very believable, and you'll find yourself rooting for Chandra to find a way, not to bliss, but to more happiness.  Or maybe just contentment?  Or self-awareness?  Whatever he's on the path to, it's an enjoyable journey, for the reader, at least.

One thing that really stood out to me is the very subtle way that Balasubramanyam points out the ways in which Chandra was a terrible father.  His casual cruelties to his children are reported as straight facts; there is no extended narrative exposition explaining the effects of his words, allowing readers to make their own judgments without interference.  This is a mark of a good author, one who truly shows, rather than tells, and he does this with aplomb throughout the book.
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Initially this book was slow for me to get into, but I am so glad I didn't give up on it! I really enjoyed following Chandra's journey throughout the novel. It felt like the reader was part of his journey of self-discovery and growth, specifically in regards to his relationships with his children.  I found each character to be charming and likable, despite how different they all were.  The ending was really satisfying for me as well.
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Thank you NetGalley for a copy of this book. This was such a delightful read, about a man on the cusp of seventy after having an accident decides to take a sabbatical and find his bliss. All the hijinks that go along with and the tender moments he has re-evaluating his relationships with his family are just really good. Really enjoyed this one.
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Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Rajeev Balasubramanyam’s novel, Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss, in exchange for an honest review.

Cambridge economics professor, Dr. Chandrasekhar aka “Charles,”  is having a mid-life crisis. He has, once again, been forced to face the crushing disappointment and indignity of having been passed over for a Nobel Prize. This wouldn’t be so terrible, if in pursuit of his career, he hadn’t sacrificed personal happiness and developing relationships with his family. He is divorced from his wife Jean, who has remarried and moved from England to Colorado with their teenage daughter, Jasmine. Jasmine is acting out and getting into major trouble, including experimenting with drugs. Charles cannot relate to his older children. His son, Sunny, is a successful entrepreneur and is so consumed with his business, that he has little time for his family. After a major ideological disagreement, Charles has not spoken to his eldest daughter, Radha, in years and doesn’t even know where she is living.

After experiencing a major health scare, Charles takes a break from teaching at Cambridge and travels to the United States. He begins to reconnect with Jasmine, Jean, and Jean’s new husband. It’s an odd family dynamic, but not without love and concern. Charles begins to realize that he needs to change his outlook and to begin to focus on deepening his relationships, both to help himself and his children. 

Balasubramanyam has a strong writer’s voice, which he uses effectively to set the tone of both the story and especially Charles. The opening chapters introduce us to Charles, who is quite a difficult person, someone who delights in both being a curmudgeon and destroying others. It’s humorous, even though the reader is keenly aware that Charles is a very unhappy person. It also sets us up for his transformation. Charles makes a lot of mistakes, but he is the perfect character to undergo a massive transformation and we root for him to succeed. 

I really loved the relationship between Jasmine and Charles. Jasmine’s troubles are generally those of a confused and angry teenager, but we soon see that her acting out and experimentation is taking her down a dark path. Drug addition or perhaps consequences of spending time with unsavory people, are looming on her horizon. Charles is devastated that this is happening to his daughter and initially he feels quite helpless. However, he is struck with the idea that Jasmine can be sent to a monastery to live with a woman that he met at his yoga retreat. Charles shifts from being a very self-involved character, to someone who begins to think of others, starting with his beloved youngest daughter. Previous to his experience at the yoga retreat, Charles would never have suggested this for his daughter, but through his personal enlightenment, he can now help her. I was taken with the novel’s themes of balancing self-reliance with building relationships. You can’t help others without fixing yourself, but fixing yourself means little, if you can’t experience deep relationships with other people. 

Generally, I found the story to be fast-paced, although it lost a little steam in the middle. I think it’s because although it was very important to the character arc for Charles to discover himself at the yoga retreat, this aspect was less interesting than that of his repairing the relationship with his family. I thought it was interesting that Charles is not necessarily enlightened after the yoga retreat. It helps him on his way, but it is only a stepping stone towards the bliss he finds from connecting with his family. I  like that the book wraps on a hopeful note, yet not unrealistic or completely perfect. Charles and his family members, still have a lot to learn, but they have made great strides. 

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss is an uplifting redemption story that begs readers to reflection on their own lives. Balasubramanyam is a talented writer and I recommend Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss.
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I enjoyed spending time (some) time with Professor Chandra, but started losing interest in the middle of his journey.  If he were a real person, I would have suggested we have coffee every few months to catch up on  his progress. The book doesn't have the depth that might have  grabbed the fellow feeling of this one who lived through the 70s,  Recommended for those who enjoy a light read with a certain amount of "how to get enlightened".
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This book just had no appeal for me. The professor was annoying and so were his family members. His journeys to self discovery were monotonous and dull. The book ‘s blurb mad it sound so appealing. I was disappointed.
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I would rate this a 3.5.  If you liked a Man Called Ove and the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry you probably will like Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss.  It’s about a curmudgeon but although I did not like the other two curmudgeonly novels, I did find this one more enjoyable.  It’s witty, funny, and more realistic than the two others. The writing was good and characters all interesting.  It also was a little more fully dimensional in that it touched on more issues than just the curmudgeon protagonist.
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“Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss” started out well enough, I even laughed a time or two. However, as I read on, I found the characters pretty unlikeable. Professor Chandra was arrogant. I don’t know what I was expecting from looking at the cover and the blurb but I thought I was going to find an uplifting, light and funny adventure. Maybe I thought I would find a read that spoke to me and let me know that it is ok if life doesn’t go the way you expect, its about finding happiness. I found none of this. Overall, it took me far too long to finish this book. 

* I received an arc of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
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P.R. Chandrasekhar, a professor of Economics at Cambridge, is introduced on the cusp of winning the Nobel Prize. Instead, he loses. The ignominy of mediocrity is unacceptable, and his frustration is evidenced by his disdain for his students and coworkers alike. After once again insulting the intelligence of  one of these students, he is asked to take a sabbatical.  This is a foreign concept to one who has devoted his entire life to reaching the pinnacle of his carefully curated career, but an accident, and being alone on his birthday, lead him to plan a trip to California to visit his daughter.

At the ripe old age of 70, Professor Chandra is encouraged to find his bliss after punching his ex-wife's new husband. ( a singularly encouraging act of violence for him) This journey leads him to a spiritual retreat, where the constant state of sadness or befuddlement  starts to lift. This workshop leads him to explore his definition of success and the lost time and relationships with his children. Is it too late to reset his focus and embrace his humanity? While not a particularly likable main character, especially in the beginning of the story, by the end you'll be cheering for his awkward attempts to bond, seek forgiveness, and move forward on the path to finding his bliss.
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The Dial Press and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

P.R. Chandrasekhar, a professor of economics at Cambridge, has reached a crucial point in his life. His professional career has always taken precedence over his family and now it seems that he has failed at both.  Passed up once again for the Nobel Prize, Professor Chandra is unsure as to how to move forward.  When an accident precipitates a change, will Chandra come to some realizations about his life and about how to fix what has gone wrong?

At almost 70 years of age, Chandra comes to his mid-life crisis a little late in life.  The way he interacts with those around him, both family and stranger alike, gives Chandra a not very likable quality.  There are some good lessons that readers can take away, though, especially regarding relationships and personal success.  I did not really find Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss to be charming or uplifting; in fact, it was kind of depressing that a man who spent his whole life striving for more was so misunderstood by those around him.  Not one person in Chandra's life stopped to think or inquire as to his actions.  The book picked up a little in the last quarter, but it was not enough to elevate the novel higher than average.  Readers who like books about dysfunctional families and their relationships may find Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss to their liking.
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I picked up this title because it was described as a humorous book and I am sorry to say I did not find it funny at all.  That said, it was still a worthwhile read.  The plot is basically about a man's midlife crisis (if you can call it that at age 70).  I was a relief and a pleasure to follow Professor Chandra's evolution.
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This is one of the best books I have read all year. Five stars! Chandra is a 69 year old  Nobel prize hopeful. He is a strange from most of his family. This is about Chandra‘s journey to find himself and reunite with his family. It is funny, I mean laugh out loud funny, it is heart breaking,  yet this book always leaves us with hope. I cannot thank you enough for my copy of this book. As I finish this review I plan to look for another one of this authors books. I will definitely be recommending this author to all my friends and family.
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This book could be loosely compared to A Man Called Øve. Like Øve, it appears to be a light read about an old curmudgeon whose life is falling apart.
As in Øve, There is much, much more going on in this narrative.
The author presents a cast of deeply flawed, yet deeply ‘normal’ characters.
Chandra has made a mess of family life, has been overlooked for the Nobel Prize in economics, and realizes that he is a failure as a human being.
Gradually, after, a few days at a retreat in California, he begins to rekindle his relationships with his children and ex-wife.
There is a depth in this book, savour it.
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"Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss" joins a small shelf of recent novels about lovable misanthropes. If you enjoyed "A Man Called Ove" or "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand," this book will likely also appeal to you. Rajeev Balasubramanyam introduces us to Professor Chandra, a world-famous professor and author who is considered a favorite for the Nobel Prize in economics. While a stranger might believe that Chandra has everything a man could wish for (family, meaningful work, accolades, a nice house, etc.) the truth is that his life is falling apart. He's recently divorced, and one of his children isn't speaking to him. His colleagues and students fear him. When an accident leaves him in the hospital around his 70th birthday, Chandra takes stock and realizes he must make some changes.
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