Keya Des's Second Act
Grade : A-

Keya Das’s Second Act – a story of deep regrets, fresh starts, and moving on – is a big warm hug of a novel.  Sopan Deb’s take on domestic agonies and blisses feels incredibly fresh, enough to make you feel like you’re in the hands of a master.

The Das family is in a state of flux. Dr. Shantanu Das is a fifty-two-year-old professor at Rutgers but his life has fallen into a depressing routine.  His wife Chaitali has divorced him, and he’s in the process of selling the New Jersey house he’s lived in for decades. He regrets that he doesn’t have a relationship with his daughter, Mitali, who refuses to speak to him.  He feels isolated from the Bengali-American community which once vibrantly bolstered his life during his twenties and thirties. But most of all, he regrets that he didn’t reconcile with his daughter, Keya, before she died.  Keya’s coming out happened only days before her death and he was unable to accept her before she passed on.

While cleaning out the attic, Shantanu discovers a box of Keya’s possessions in the attic. And among those possessions is a script for a play she co-authored.  Neesh Desai, Mitali’s new boyfriend, suggests that they stage the play – since he works with renting performance spaces, he can get them a stage.  Shantanu suddenly has new purpose; he gathers together everyone in Keya’s life to put the play on and tries to build social bridges back into his community. That means getting along with Mitali’s new boyfriend and with Chaitali’s husband Jahar, it means trying to heal the family’s old wounds – and it means finally meeting with Keya’s girlfriend, Pamela Moore, to get her permission to stage the play, as she is Keya’s co-author.

This book is a fantastic, healing journey that takes the reader deep into Bengalese culture and shows how hard – yet ultimately worthwhile – making amends can be. Every character is fascinating enough to make one yearn to spend more time with them (I wanted more time with Pamela and Mitali, for instance).

It’s soothing to spend time with the Das family; they aren’t perfect people, but they’re willing to be better people, and that’s what makes following them so much fun.  They grow a lot, and all of them ultimately end up showing their love for Keya in different, unique ways.

Keya herself perfumes the novel, appearing through the work put into her play, hovering over them all through flashbacks, shared memories, and tender thoughts.  And in the meantime we finally get to see Shantanu discover life again, which is a really touching thing to behold.  In the end, bridges are built, communities come closer together, exes understand one another better and the Das family becomes bigger instead of smaller.  It’s a wonderful, emotionally true book that cares about family and art.

Keya Das’s Second Act is a beautiful work of art, and it ought not to be missed by anyone who likes a heart-tugging family saga.

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Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes

Grade: A-

Book Type: Fiction

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : July 7, 2022

Publication Date: 07/2022

Review Tags: AoC Hindu New Jersey PoC

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Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at, follow her on Twitter at or contribute to her Patreon at or her Ko-Fi at
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