Kunal Nayyar, who plays Raj on The Big Bang Theory, has officially hopped on the bandwagon of TV stars writing memoirs, and we’re glad he did. Ever wonder the secret to playing someone so lovably awkward? Hint: it comes from lots of real life practice, as Kunal reveals in this collection of autobiographical essays called Yes, My Accent is Real. I had the opportunity to meet Kunal briefly at a book signing at Book Expo America, and I have to say, he is as sweet and funny in person as the character he plays. At BEA, I got an excerpt of his forthcoming essay collection, which I will review for you below. Yes, My Accent is Real chronicles various humorous or inspiring episodes from Kunal’s life in a very loose sort of order. I lied in the paragraph above when I called it a memoir. The preface makes very clear that it’s not so much a formal account of his life but rather a collection of short anecdotes that friends and fans have found amusing, which he as finally typed up and bound into a book. Some of the chapters are only a page long, some span fifteen pages, and some are lists rather than prose. The stories cover his childhood in India and his life on the set of The Big Bang Theory. There are a number of chapters about his journey from a sassy kid at his first talent competition, to a struggling theater grad student, to one of the biggest geek stars on television. Kunal’s writing style is very down-to-earth, conversational, and, of course, extremely funny. I found myself frequently giggling out loud in a sandwich shop where I read the first few chapters. He even includes footnotes for little jokes that couldn’t fit into the actual text. His humor is simultaneously self-deprecating and bold, an endearing mix of modesty and confidence. I could hear his voice shining through his words in each of the stories, and I can only imagine how amusing it would be to hear him tell them all in person.
My favorite chapters were those about the awkward mishaps and cultural insights of his personal life, especially the ones about his first kiss, the Indian tradition of Rakhi and the festival Dussehra, and his extravagant seven-day Indian wedding. I think readers who are planning on going into theater themselves will relate much more than I did to the chapters about his casting failures and triumphs and his epiphany on stage of what acting is all about. Anyone who is a fan of his on The Big Bang Theory will love the peeks into life on set: what it’s like to act beside guest celebrities you worshiped as a child, and what all our favorite characters get up to when the camera isn’t on them.
I would definitely recommend this book to both fans of Kunal on the show and people who’ve never heard of him in their lives. The book is certainly humorous enough to justify its existence in its own right. Anyone who has moved between cultures, tried their hand at acting, or even just navigated the awkward insecurities of young love will find something to connect to in its pages.
I just received a copy of the full version, and there’s so much more to praise but I can’t fit it all in this post, so you’ll have to see for your self. Yes, My Accent is Real is scheduled to hit shelves on Tuesday, September 15th.