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Contemporary Literature of the Immigrant Experience in the United States: South/Southeast Asia


“Though no longer pregnant, she continues, at times, to mix Rice Krispies and peanuts and onions in a bowl. For being a foreigner Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy -- a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been an ordinary life, only to discover that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding. Like pregnancy, being a foreigner, Ashima believes, is something that elicits the same curiosity from strangers, the same combination of pity and respect.” 

-- Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Recommended Literature

Viet Thanh Nguyen with Maxine Hong Kingston, 2017

Relevant Books & Articles

Sukumary-Warren, A. (2016). The theme of multiple dislocation and immigration as treated in diaspora literature: analyzing the cases of select South Asian-American diaspora writers. Proceedings of 12th International Conference on Humanities & Social Sciences 2016 (IC-­HUSO 2016) 14-­15 November 2016, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, KhonKaen University, Thailand. 921–929. 

Interview with Jhumpa Lahiri, New Yorker, 2013

Relevant Publications & Organizations

Hyphen Magazine

Hyphen is an American print and online magazine, founded in 2002 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area journalists, activists, and artists. This news and culture magazine, media outlet, and community partner highlights Asian America through investigative features, including on health, immigration, and the legal system; interviews with writers and artists; profiles of Asian American activists, artists, athletes, and others; pop culture analysis; fiction and poetry; and more.

Kaya Press

Kaya Press publishes challenging, thoughtful, and provocative literature being produced throughout the Asian and Pacific Island diasporas, including experimental poetry, noir fiction, film memoir, avant-garde art, performance pieces, “lost” novels, and more. Kaya's website publishes literature- and author-related news and highlights its events.

Arkipelago Books

For the last 20 years, this San Francisco bookstore has served as one of only two distributors of specialty books outside of the Philippines. Its collection of contemporary and historical Filipino American titles makes it a major distributor for libraries and educational institutions.

Mia Alvar Reads Excerpts from In the Country, 2018

Relevant Guides & Journals

Filipino American Literature

This guide, written by an academic associated with Emory University, provides an introduction to the background behind and themes of Filipino American literature.

South Asian Diaspora

This biannual journal publishes researches that investigate the experience of people and ideas from the Indian subcontinent. In a cross-disciplinary fashion, publications include studies on sociopolitical issues related to immigration, ethnographic projects, and studies in the field of comparative literature.

CUNY Forum Asian American/Asian Studies

Published by the Asian American/Asian Research Institute at CUNY, this open-access journal publishes research done by scholars, activists, artists, and institutions to showcase critical voices on the Asian American experience and transcultural issues.