“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Elephants in My Backyard: A Memoir

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday pick is The Elephants in My Backyard: A Memoir by Rajiv Surendra.
Cover of The Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra

Title: The Elephants in My Backyard: A Memoir

Author: Rajiv Surendra

Publication date: November 8th 2016

Publisher: Regan Arts

Pre-order: Book Depository | Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Rajiv Surendra was filming Mean Girls, playing the beloved rapping mathlete Kevin Gnapoor, when a cameraman insisted he read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. So begins his “lovely and human” (Jenny Lawson, author of Furiously Happy) tale of obsessively pursuing a dream, overcoming failure, and finding meaning in life.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I found myself standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff. Far below me was an incredible abyss with no end in sight. I could turn back and safely return to where I had come from, or I could throw caution to the wind, lift my arms up into the air . . . and jump.” — From The Elephants in My Backyard

What happens when you spend ten years obsessively pursuing a dream, and then, in the blink of an eye, you learn that you have failed, that the dream will not come true?

In 2003, Rajiv Surendra was filming Mean Girls playing the beloved rapping mathlete Kevin Gnapoor, when a cameraman insisted he read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.

Mesmerized by all the similarities between Pi and himself—both are five-foot-five with coffee-colored complexions, both share a South Indian culture, both lived by a zoo—when Rajiv learns that Life of Pi will be made into a major motion picture he is convinced that playing the title role is his destiny.

In a great leap of faith Rajiv embarks on a quest to embody the sixteen-year-old Tamil schoolboy. He quits university and buys a one-way ticket from Toronto to South India. He visits the sacred stone temples of Pondicherry, he travels to the frigid waters off the coast of rural Maine, and explores the cobbled streets of Munich. He befriends Yann Martel, a priest, a castaway, an eccentric old woman, and a pack of Tamil schoolboys. He learns how to swim, to spin wool, to keep bees, and to look a tiger in the eye. All the while he is really learning how to dream big, to fail, to survive, to love, and to become who he truly is.

Rajiv Surendra captures the uncertainty, heartache, and joy of finding ones place in the world with sly humor and refreshing honesty. The Elephants in My Backyard is not a journey of goals and victories, but a story of process and determination. It is a spellbinding and profound book for anyone who has ever failed at something and had to find a new path through life. (From Goodreads.)

Memoir is my go-to genre for getting out of reading slumps, so I like to keep a nice list handy in case of emergency. The Elephants in My Backyard seems right up my alley, and maybe it’ll get me to read Life of Pi.

What book are you looking forward to this Wednesday?

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