Author: Kunal Nayyar
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Atria Books
First Published: September 15, 2015
First Line: "Sometimes people ask me, 'Why are you writing a memoire? You're only thirty-four."
Book Description from GoodReads: 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.
My Review: I'm a fan of The Big Bang Theory so when I saw 'Raj's' lovable face on the front of the book I knew I'd be picking it up pronto. Going into the book I was expecting a knee slapping kind of funny memoir about a guy from a super popular TV show.
And then I read the book description.
Instead of writing an autobiography Kunal says he has compiled a "collection of stories from my life" - anecdotes as he grew up, if you will. Some are dorky, some are funny, some rather embarrassing and most are interesting. But they're all Kunal and the reader gets a sense of who he is from his writing. It's not a hilarious, sometimes witty read. It's a good way for readers to get to know Kunal, where he came from, how he went from king of the badminton courts in India to cleaning toilets in Portland to playing the awkward but lovable Raj.
Kunal is charming, quirky, a little dorky but quite endearing. He spends some time telling about his childhood growing up in India, his misadventures in the dating world (which are very reminiscent of Raj's women woes), his professional struggles and finally meeting his wife. He is a tender soul who is deeply grounded in family. His relationship with is parents, especially his father, as well as his wife were touching. That said, the fan in me couldn't help but feel anxious to get to when he started on the Big Bang Theory. But this book isn't about his Big Bang fame. Like Kunal says, it's a bunch of stories about his life so fans hoping for a glimpse of behind the scenes at the Big Bang Theory may feel a little disappointed.
Overall this was a good read but not quite the page turner I was hoping for. Admittedly, the stories he told were much more sedate than I was expecting. Instead of being a laugh a minute, Kunal chats about parts of his life so far and gives readers a look at the guy behind Raj. I think that he's fairly similar to Raj in that he seems like a sweet, normal guy who had some truly awkward stages growing up (didn't we all?). It was interesting to see his journey - the good, the bad and the awkward - which ended with him being on one of the most popular sitcoms on TV today but I wish that some pictures would have been included in the book. But it's honesty and his self-deprecating humour (my favourite kind!) that pulls readers in with some rather funny one-liners sprinkled throughout the book that truly shine in this book.
My Rating: 3/5 stars