How to be South Asian in America : narratives of ambivalence and belonging /

Main Author: Jain, Anupama, 1972-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 2011.
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Review by Choice Review

Jain (Univ. of Pittsburgh) examines the work of representative authors from South Asia at various stages of their post-migration. Some arrived in the US in the two decades after 1965, when migration barriers were partially removed; a second group is the children of immigrants, citizens not immigrants, members of an emergent diaspora. A third group consists of descendants of South Asians who were brought to work in the Caribbean plantations of the British Empire circa 1838-1914; some of their grandchildren now constitute a secondary diaspora in the US. The majority of these South Asians aspired to remain authentically Indian, yet also to belong to a larger American collective. Jain shows how the literary and cinematic works she studies represent these aspirations to attain the "American dream," the ways of achieving them, and often of failing to do so; she also explores the agency available to fictional representatives of this community and the profound ambivalence many of them felt, be they Hindu, Muslim, Parsee, etc. Jain is a perceptive reader and elegant writer, and her observations on subjects' representation of the South Asian diaspora's urgent desire to belong, coupled with their "audacious refusal to become [America's] Other," deserves a wide readership. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. K. Tololyan Wesleyan University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.