Members Only

Sameer Pandya (Author)


First the white members of Raj Bhatt's posh tennis club call him racist. Then his life falls apart. Along the way, he wonders: where does he, a brown man, belong in America?

Raj Bhatt is often unsure of where he belongs. Having moved to America from Bombay as a child, he knew few Indian kids. Now middle-aged, he lives mostly happily in California, with a job at a university. Still, his white wife seems to fit in better than he does at times, especially at their tennis club, a place he's cautiously come to love.

But it's there that, in one week, his life unravels. It begins at a meeting for potential new members: Raj thrills to find an African American couple on the list; he dreams of a more diverse club. But in an effort to connect, he makes a racist joke. The committee turns on him, no matter the years of prejudice he's put up with. And worse still, he soon finds his job is in jeopardy after a group of students report him as a reverse racist, thanks to his alleged "anti-Western bias."

Heartfelt, humorous, and hard-hitting, Members Only explores what membership and belonging mean, as Raj navigates the complicated space between black and white America.

Product Details

$15.99  $14.71
Mariner Books
Publish Date
July 07, 2020
5.3 X 1.0 X 8.0 inches | 0.65 pounds

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About the Author

SAMEER PANDYA was longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award forhis story collection The Blind Writer, and is the recipient of the PEN/Civitella Fellowship. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Salon, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara.



"An intense, funny, and absolutely necessary novel about our current times. Accomplished storyteller Pandya has given all of us teachers a compulsive read for the days, the weeks, when we feel unmoored and even a slightly bit crazy."
--Weike Wang, author of Chemistry

"Is extremely enjoyable anxiety a thing? Because that's how I felt as I sped through Professor Raj Bhatt's very bad week. A vital, tightly-written dive into our current swirl of confusion over privilege and power."
--Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World

"Members Only perfectly portrays how our careless words and casual comments have unintended ripple effects that couldn't possibly be predicted. This is a riveting story of misunderstanding and misrepresentation."
--Laurie Gelman, author of Class Mom and You've Been Volunteered

"In Pandya's tense, sly debut novel (after the collection The Blind Writer) a college lecturer faces accusations of racism and anti-American bias in a California suburb over the course of a fateful week. The taut, heartrending narrative offers deep insight into the ways the characters are shaped by racism. Pandya's sympathetic portrait of Raj's quest for acceptance will resonate with readers."--Publishers Weekly

"A grand slam...Pandya's writing here is smooth, clear, funny, and often subtly beautiful. Members Only is the thoughtful page-turner we need right now." --Booklist, starred review