Good day Nick! I have a new plot that’s slightly dear to my heart and it’s a little daunting to part with it, but let’s do this for the greater good. Still struggling to get a foothold of a good plot, so I hope I can get your insightful feedback!
Title: The Road To America
Genre: General Fiction / Literary Fiction
Audience: YA/NA and anyone with interest in culture-based fiction
Length: 50000 to 60000
In the South Indian fishing village of Ratthinampakkan, 17 year-old Anbazhagan ‘Anbu’ Muthusamy daydreams about dropping out from school and striking jackpot by catching thousands of fish. That is until affluent 18 year-old Vetrimaaran Anbarasen is the first boy of the village to enter a university out of India: in America. Anbu visits him with his friends and Vetri describes America in enthralling detail. Anbu gets infatuated with the fantastical America in his head.
Days pass. Vetri returns briefly from America. Anbu and his mates find an address in Vetri’s notebook and as a prank, write a letter to it in. Anbu volunteers to post it. He surprisingly gets a reply from Trevor, Vetri’s batchmate, who accompanies Vetri to the village. This strengthens Anbu’s infatuation. Unbeknownst to him, the picturesque fantasy Trevor had of the village doesn’t match with reality and he leaves, and the exchange abruptly ends.
Staring at the only bungalow in the village, Anbu vows that he, too, would go to America. Stealing the little money his father had, Anbu sets off to the city to find what Vetri called ‘American Embassy’. When he tries to enter it, he is called a ‘beggar boy’ and dragged away. Insulted, he vows to succeed. Forcing his way to the smart kids’ benches, he meets studious Abirami, a girl who helps him improve.
One day a year later, a terrible storm hits their coast. Anbu’s father and brother drown. Being the eldest, his ailing mother begs Anbu to drop out and go out to fish for income. Unable to part with school, he searches for night work in the city – only sewage cleaning is offered to the villagers. Anguished but with no choice, Anbu accepts.
Amma’s ailment worsens. High cost of medications forces Anbu to drop out and fish – but Amma dies five days before he is to join the fleet. He takes this as God’s plan and throws himself in studying for his entrance exams. His arithmetic skills finally gets him a job as a shopkeeper’s accountant.
The exams finish. Anbu emerges as the top in the village, but he isn’t near the top 10% in the state of Tamilnadu. Unable to apply to American universities and dejected, he goes to visit a recently-returned Vetri to lament, only for Vetri to confide that his father had actually sold their ancestral land to forge his marks and force him to America. America is hostile – Trevor now calls him a ‘fisherman’s son.’ An introspective reflection makes Anbu realise a comfortable life doesn’t have to be in America. He applies and graduates as a computer scientist from Mumbai’s Institute of Technology, and his sister goes to Australia after passing her exams in flying colours. Finally peaceful in life, Anbu then builds a good hospital in remembrance of his mother, serves his community, and tutors the youngsters in the village. And in a few of them, he sees himself – and they, too, might embark on The Road To America.
MAJOR ARCS / PLOTLINES
Anbu’s internal struggle with the harsh external world – mainly he has to battle poverty and societal norms in order to attain what he thinks is success, and also not give up and lose hope in harsh times.
Anbu’s internal transformation throughout the book – he has to realise that the dream of having a great life in another land had is, in itself, societal construct of ultimate success. He has to then transform from a boy who bases his dreams on society to a man who knows what he truly wants.
Anbu and Abirami will have an unfulfilled romantic subplot – Abirami, as a girl, would be arranged to marry a wealthier man so the family can sustain.
THINGS TO HIGHLIGHT
BOOK STRUCTURE: The whole book will be first-person and from Anbu’s perspective.
This book was heavily inspired by The Village By The Sea, Malgudi Days, and the movie Slumdog Millionaire.
As a South Indian, this plot was born out of the unquenchable desire to show the world how it is like in my culture.
There is a lot of cultural reasoning that goes behind Anbu’s decisions. I accept that the heavy cultural aspect might be tricky to connect with the audience, but the journey, the struggles, and the dreams of the protagonist will definitely resonate with them.
Thank you very, very much for your help. I hope that with your feedback, I will be able to write this book – it really is quite dear to my heart.