Keya Das's Second Act (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Keya Das's Second Act is about grief, redemption, regret, and the power of second chances. We never meet the main character, Keya, because she has already died when the book begins. After coming out as gay to her traditional family of Bengali heritage and not being accepted, she leaves home. During this time, her close family - mother, father, and sister - try to become more open-minded and accepting of Keya's difference. Unfortunately, before they can share this with Keya, she gets into a car accident and dies. Keya's family discovers a box in the attic when cleaning out her things which contains a play manuscript she and her girlfriend, Pamela, wrote in high school about two young girls coming out to their unaccepting parents as gay. As homage to Keya's memory and to give her the love she deserved when she was alive, they decide to all work together with the help of famous directors and Broadway actors to put on the play for their local community. This brings Keya back to life briefly and allows her family to reconnect with her on a deeper, more spiritual level. Throughout the book, the characters each have hardships of their own to overcome – the grief of a child and sister, broken family ties, divorce and finding new love, alcohol and drug addictions, and the regret of not showing Keya the support she deserved before it was too late. I want to give credit to the author, Sopan Deb, as this book contains a plot I have never read before which shows how creative and talented he is! A great read, coming out next month!
—Abby Lindemann, Snail Readers Circle

— From Readers Circle Recommendations


A poignant, heartwarming, and charmingly funny debut novel about how a discovered box in the attic leads one Bengali American family down a path toward understanding the importance of family, even when splintered.

Shantanu Das is living in the shadows of his past. In his fifties, he finds himself isolated from his traditional Bengali community after a devastating divorce from his wife, Chaitali; he hasn’t spoken to his eldest daughter Mitali in months; and most painfully, he lives each day with the regret that he didn’t accept his teenaged daughter Keya after she came out as gay. As the anniversary of Keya’s death approaches, Shantanu wakes up one morning utterly alone in his suburban New Jersey home and realizes it’s finally time to move on.

This is when Shantanu discovers a tucked-away box in the attic that could change everything. He calls Mitali and pleads with her to come home. She does so out of pity, not realizing that her life is about to shift.

Inside the box is an unfinished manuscript that Keya and her girlfriend were writing. It’s a surprising discovery that brings Keya to life briefly. But Neesh Desai, a new love interest for Mitali with regrets of his own, comes up with a wild idea, one that would give Keya more permanence: what if they are to stage the play? It could be an homage to Keya’s memory, and a way to make amends. But first, the Dases need to convince Pamela Moore, Keya’s girlfriend, to give her blessing. And they have to overcome ghosts from the past they haven’t met yet.

A story of redemption and righting the wrongs of the past, Keya Das’s Second Act is a warmly drawn homage to family, creativity, and second chances. Set in the vibrant world of Bengalis in the New Jersey suburbs, this debut novel is both poignant and, at times, a surprising hilarious testament to the unexpected ways we build family and find love, old and new.

About the Author

Sopan Deb is a writer for The New York Times, where his topics have included sports and culture. He is also the author of the memoir Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me. Before joining the Times, Deb was one of a handful of reporters who covered Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign from start to finish as a campaign embed for CBS News. He was named a “breakout media star” of the election by Politico. At The New York Times, Deb has interviewed high profile subjects such as Denzel Washington, Stephen Colbert, the cast of Arrested Development, Kyrie Irving, and Bill Murray. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and dog.

Praise For…

“A perfect summer book for anyone who loves a family story that’s not neat or tidy, but makes space for all the complicated feelings that accompany grief.” BUZZFEED

“Full of regret, mistakes, love, redemption, and second chances, New York Times reporter Deb's (Missed Translations, 2020) first novel is a painfully beautiful story that gives hope to all who have lost a loved one and wished for a second act of their own.” BOOKLIST

"This book blew me away. Sopan crafts beautifully authentic characters whose experiences with tragedy, loneliness, love, and longing are as intimate as they are gripping. A must read!"—Kal Penn, author of You Can't Be Serious 

“A delightful novel. Like life itself, Keya Das's Second Act is delicate and complex, filled with love, longing, and a search for belonging. I loved it.”—DIKSHA BASU, author of The Windfall and Destination Wedding

"Sopan Deb’s Keya Das's Second Act is full of heart. It’s a sincere reflection on love, grief, forgiveness, blood family, and chosen family. This is a novel of real tragedy, but it’s also imbued with a persistent hope. What begins as a story of regret becomes one of faith in other people, and in narrative itself. The book ultimately takes joy in the many ways we reinvent ourselves — a self destructive drummer becomes a devoted boyfriend; a cold father takes up therapy and improv; and a community tries to move forward." —SANJENA SATHIAN, author of Gold Diggers

Product Details
ISBN: 9781982185473
ISBN-10: 1982185473
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 5th, 2022
Pages: 288
Language: English