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Transplanted Man
by Sanjay Nigam

Category: Fiction / Health
349 pages; ISBN: 0-688-16819-1

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Coletta Ollerer


Dr Sunit “Sonny” Seth ‘s interactions with the engaging characters in his Indian-American neighborhood in New York City and with the employees of the hospital where he is serving as resident take us on a trip to a different culture. Sonny is a gifted physician who comes up with solutions to medical problems which even he cannot explain. Gwen is an English girl working as a nurse who is suffering from an out of control libido.

Sonny’s most prominent patient is an Indian Government Official known only as the Transplanted Man because all of his major organs have been transplanted at least once. He campaigned for the office of Minister of Health and Family Welfare on the basis of being transplanted so frequently. “The strategy was brilliant. He made his condition, along with his political agenda, sound spectral -- pluralistic. What might have easily turned into an absurdity had become a symbol of mosaicism that resonated throughout the land. No other politician could so credibly claim to represent everyone.” (p10) Sonny and he become friends during his long illness. Ronny Chanchel, an Indian movie actor turned politician, is concerned about Transplanted Man’s condition. He hopes for the worst so that he might take his job in India.

Sonali, an Indian lady living the neighborhood, comes into the emergency room with an open wound on her buttock. Her husband, Nashad, doesn’t want Sonali to be in the hospital, insisting that it will heal itself. Sonali determines to stay.

Another patient, man who has had a heart attack, is visited by his wife and mistress. He asks Sonny for advice about the predicament.

Dr Giri is a psychotherapist holding two university degrees with an office in the neighborhood. The superstitious residents come to believe he is a guru rather than a psychotherapist and begin to call him Dr Gurugi. He needs the income so he accepts both roles. Manny, a hospital employee with dreams of being a singer in Indian films asks Dr Gurugi to predict his future. “`If I were to tell you that the lines on your palm are against you, and so are the heavens, would you give up your plans?' (Dr Guruji asked Manny) Manny bit his lip, `Is that what you see?’ `Answer my question’ (said Dr Guruji). Manny looked Dr Giri in the eye. `No.’ `What do you see, Guruji?’ (Manny asked). `Success’ (said Dr Guruji).” (p296)

An unnamed hypokinetic man makes his appearance. He is a homeless person who moves with amazing slowness through the streets and lives of the residents of the neighborhood. Jay and Atul, two teenagers, are among those who take advantage of his uniqueness but also look out for him.

Dr Ranjan, a research scientist employed by the hospital, and his assistant Alvin are working on a drug which they call Insomnin. Dr Ranjan himself is plagued with sleeplessness. “Frustration kept Dr Ranjan more sleepless than usual. One wintry night Dr Ranjan arrived at a new hypothesis. A theory of insomnia. In short, he believed that insomniacs had a substance circulating in their blood that inhibited sleep.” (87) They begin to work with mice and find a measure of success.

This books offers the reader a foray into another culture and introduces us to frightened, lovable, lonely and confused people just like ourselves and we enjoy getting to know them.


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