Wednesday, November 14, 2007

James Tata's: Narratives of Immigration

Narratives of Immigration (7 of 10)

One of the judges of Granta's most recent list of "Best Young American Novelists," Ian Jack, writes:

All of us judges agreed on one thing: ethnicity, migration and "abroad" had replaced social class as a source of tension, even though, as O'Rourke pointed out, that the gap between the wealthy and poor in the US is wider than ever. "In America all class analysis is forbidden," said White. "It's as if the conflict and alienation offered in, say, the British novel by encounters with members of other, lower social classes is replaced in America by contrasts of first and third world cultures." [emphasis mine] (footnote 16)

A contemporary peculiarity of the so-called liberal position in the United States is that the working class does not really register with it, even to the extent that older terms like "blue collar" and "working class" have been replaced with the euphemistic "middle class," presumably because the other terms are too left-wing sounding for American consumption. Why this is so would be the subject of an entirely different essay; I agree with Ian Jack and will take his assertion as my starting point.

As immigration has been the central social--if not political--force shaping American life since the passage of The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the single most far reaching, though perhaps least known, piece of major Great Society legislation, it follows that an American literature concerned with contemporary life would be preoccupied with stories of immigrants adjusting to living in the United States, and even of lives lived in various countries of origin. To an extent, New York publishing house literature reflects this interest in the educated readership that is its audience by publishing by such writers as the previously mentioned Jhumpa Lahiri (b. 1967), Junot Diaz (b. 1969), and Robert Olen Butler (b. 1945), as well as Edwidge Danticat (b. 1969), Don Lee (DOB unknown), Mary Yukari Waters (b. 1965), and Mohammed Naseehu Ali (b. 1971), to name a mere handful
Read the rest HERE (You'll have to scroll down...)

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