Review: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 2 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆


Publisher’s Synopsis:

Professor Chandra is an expert at complex problems. There’s just one he can’t crack: the secret of happiness

In the moments after the bicycle accident, Professor Chandra doesn’t see his life flash before his eyes, but his life’s work.

He’s just narrowly missed out on the Nobel Prize (again) and even though he knows he should get straight back to his pie charts, his doctor has other ideas.

All this work. All this success. All this stress. It’s killing him. He needs to take a break, start enjoying himself. In short, says his doctor (who is from California), Professor Chandra should just follow his bliss.

He doesn’t know it yet, but Professor Chandra is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime.

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My Thoughts:

I had high hopes for Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss, but I was disappointed. What I thought would be a humorous, relatively light-hearted book was really a satire where author Ravjeev Balasubramanyam mocks American culture and perhaps empirically proves you can’t teach an old dog a new trick.

Chandra is not a lovable curmudgeon like those found in A Man Called Ove or The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. He is self-centered and pompous. He alienated his wife and children with his singular focus on his aspirations for world recognition of his belief in his brilliance. His ex-wife, Jean, and their children aren’t any more likable. Steve—Jean’s new husband—is the tool through which author Balasubramanyam pokes fun of what he perceives to be modern America. While Steve and his compatriots at the Esalen Institute are accepting and somewhat likable characters, Chandra and his estranged family are a mess of judgment and self-absorption.

From the synopsis, I thought this book would be funny, but it wasn’t. I was looking forward to quirky characters and a madcap journey to enlightenment. Instead I got stiff characters and flat “adventures”. There were bits that were mildly amusing, but they didn’t really grabbed me. Chandra is too pedantic to ever find “his bliss”. Yet the author wants his readers to believe that a few days spent at Esalen in hot tub therapy leads his stereotypical main character to enlightenment. However, Chandra shows little in the way of epiphanic metamorphosis. The inadequate exploration of Chandra’s relationships with his offspring and their continuing discord was dissatisfying.

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss shows off the author’s knowledge–or research–of the study of economics, and the book seemingly reflects the author’s view of Americans. It did present some meaty family issues, but the story fell flat in terms of addressing those familial conflicts. Perhaps that is more realistic, but it wasn’t particularly satisfying. Sadly, unsatisfying is probably the best descriptor for this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from The Dial Press/Random House Publishing via NetGalley. For more reading recommendations, visit Book Junkie Reviews at

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