But what starts off as a small mother-daughter enterprise to help get Anita into Harvard evolves into an uncontrollable series of events that somersaults between different eras and countries — from the American Gold Rush of the 1800s to India in the 1980s to Silicon Valley in the present day. The characters eventually find that mediocrity could be a more sustainable and even radical path (“want less, and you can have everything you want,” Anita declares at one point).
“Gold Diggers” is embedded deeply in the South Asian American community, but it is also a more universal story, said Ginny Smith Younce, who edited the novel as well as Celeste Ng’s 2017 best seller, “Little Fires Everywhere.”
Sathian “captures family and community, love and growing up,” Smith Younce said. “It’s a great read, full stop.”
The novel is already generating buzz. In 2019, Penguin Random House entered into a seven-way auction to purchase it, and in February, Mindy Kaling’s production company, Kaling International, announced that it would be adapting “Gold Diggers” for television, with Sathian as one of the writers.
“The magical realism felt fresh to me, and I loved the way she used the genre to reveal a very human story,” Kaling, who will be the executive producer of the TV series, said in an email. “The idea of ambition, whose ambitions you’re trying to serve and its costs and benefits, is compelling.”
The adaptation is still in the early stages, and the company would need to produce a pilot before it is picked up by a distributor or streaming platform, said Jessica Kumai Scott, the president of Kaling International. No one has been cast, and the team is still experimenting with the structure and style of the show.
But for both Scott and Kaling, the book’s characters, particularly Neil, felt familiar, they said, like friends or family members they knew in real life.