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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
Chandra Shekhar’s first novel, Mock My Words, follows the life of David Tan, a critically acclaimed novelist with an odd speech impediment and a failing marriage. Although David writes beautifully, he struggles to speak coherent English. His wife, Laura, a dynamic and sometimes stern woman working in PR, discovers that the assignment she thought would get her a promotion is in fact setting her up as a scapegoat. David’s efforts to support her and ensure her happiness do little to ease Laura’s matrimonial boredom. David’s new job as a Literature Professor seems doomed to fail when his difficulties in communicating causes his students to disregard his ideas. Prospects brighten when he meets Melissa, a business student with a revolutionary product idea. When she also snubs him, David begins to question his choice to teach.
Shekhar’s prose is graceful and eloquent without succumbing to verbosity. By contrast, David’s dialogue is halting and clumsy. I thought this served as an apt metaphor for the difficulties David has in navigating Western customs, as well as highlighting the low tolerance predominantly monolingual societies display towards those communicating with them in a second language. David is a sweet, likeable character. It’s easy to empathise with him, but it’s the inclusion of Laura’s point of view that truly balances both his character, and the narrative of their failing marriage. The tricky situation she faces at work energises the story and introduces a level of intrigue. Mock My Words is a charming novel and a satisfying read overall.