Literature that takes us beyond identity to empathy
The World Next Door
South Asian American Literature and the Idea of America
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Cultural Studies Book Award, Association for Asian American Studies, 2006
Outstanding Academic Title, Choice, 2005
This book grows out of the question, "At this particular moment of tense geopolitics and inter-linked economies, what insights can South Asian American writing offer us about living in the world?"
South Asian American literature, with its focus on the multiple geographies and histories of the global dispersal of South Asians, pulls back from a close-up view of the United States to reveal a wider landscape of many nations and peoples.
South Asian American poets, novelists, and playwrights depict the nation as simultaneously discrete and entwined with the urgencies of places as diverse as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Pakistan, and Trinidad. Drawing on the cosmopolitan sensibility of scholars like Anthony Appiah, Vinay Dharwadker, Martha Nussbaum, Bruce Robbins, and Amartya Sen, this book exhorts North American residents to envision connectedness with inhabitants of other lands. The world out there arrives next door.
"A pioneering study of the unique contributions of South Asian American writers, both prominent and marginal, situating their vision locally, globally, and within 'the idea of America.' Asian American studies is enriched by Srikanth's timely engagement as much with literary representations of ethnicity, immigrant relocation, transnationalism, [and] sexuality, as with her astute concern with geopolitical dynamics and struggles for social justice in the world today."
"The introduction to this book is stunning: it brings the reader up to date with the tension that currently underlies the South Asian diaspora in the US.... In chapter after chapter, [Srikanth] shows how literature and activism strengthen each other.... Essential."
"Among the extraordinary intellects and unique voices discussed by Professor Srikanth are Meena Alexander (Fault Lines), Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Muneer Ahmed ("Homeland Insecurities: Racial Violence the Day after September 11"). They are thinkers and writers and activists all at once steeped in a loosely shared cultural ethos and the bondlessness common among exiles from home."
"[T]his [is] a very worthwhile study."
"[A]n exciting work... an important contribution to Asian American studies and American studies because it keenly analyzes and unpacks the ideological forces that inform and are challenged in South Asian American writing."
"Srikanth must be praised for the breadth, inclusiveness, and originality of her literary scholarship, her presentation of writers engaging with the most pressing political issues of this moment, her inclusion of performance art and activism alongside recognized literary masters and high theorists, her passion for wise and just reading, and the sheer intellectual exuberance of the literary world she has described."
In the series
Asian American History and Culture, edited by David Palumbo-Liu, K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh Vő, and Cathy Schlund-Vials.
Founded by Sucheng Chan in 1991, the Asian American History and Culture, series has sponsored innovative scholarship that has redefined, expanded, and advanced the field of Asian American studies while strengthening its links to related areas of scholarly inquiry and engaged critique. Like the field from which it emerged, the series remains rooted in the social sciences and humanities, encompassing multiple regions, formations, communities, and identities. Extending the vision of founding editor Sucheng Chan and emeritus editor Michael Omi, series editors David Palumbo-Liu, K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh Vő, and Cathy Schlund-Vials continue to develop a foundational collection that embodies a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to Asian American studies.