Jyotsna Sreenivasan Presents American Indian Stories with Underhand Satire – Best American Indian Magazine | San José CA


These Americans is Jyotsna Sreenivasanfirst collection of stories from. She is the child of immigrants from India and was born and raised in Ohio. His previous publications include a novel And the laughter fell from the sky as well as short stories in various anthologies and literary journals. She was a finalist for the 2014 PEN Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. This collection of stories is unique among these collections as it includes eight short stories and one new Falcon, So offering readers a view of the versatility and ease of Sreenivasan in a variety of prose forms.

These Americans presents vignettes into the life of American Indians in a variety of contexts. What’s particularly interesting is that many of the stories show Sreenivasan’s gift for social satire and sly humor.

In the opening story, “Mirror,” a newly arrived Indian woman gives birth to a daughter in an American hospital and unexpectedly adopts the American custom of seeing the baby’s entry into the world with the help of a mirror, a practice she initially rejected. .

Two stories “Home” and “Revolution” give us a glimpse of the immigration experience from a children’s perspective. In “At Home”, Amiya readjusts to life in an American neighborhood after moving to India earlier in her childhood. Gaps in her cultural assimilation are revealed when she doesn’t win the Santa Claus Making Contest because she creates a skinny Santa. In “Revolution”, Neel returns to India and questions his grandfather in the hopes of learning more about his contribution to Gandhi’s struggle for freedom, but he is disappointed by the revelation that his grandfather does. participated in any revolutionary activity. Although he is most afraid of his grandfather’s personality when visiting, it is the grandfather who intuitively understands Neel’s predicament when his divorced father announces his new love.

The story in which Sreenivasan’s talent for comedy really shines is “Mrs. Raghavendra’s Daughter” – a widowed Native American mother praying and plotting for an Indian husband for her second-generation daughter gradually realizes and accepts her daughter’s relationship with a Caucasian woman.The elaborate deceptions of mother and daughter to avoid confronting the truth about the girl’s sexuality produce much of the comedy in this story.

Mother-daughter relationships and the generational tensions they embody in South Asian immigrant families emerge as a unifying theme in many stories. Often the second-generation daughter assumes the mother’s criticism, but sometimes, as in “The Sweater,” the story ends with an epiphany that love cements these openly conflicted relationships. In some stories like “Perfect Sunday,” we are offered a glimpse into interracial marriage and the delicate balance between financial worries and the fleeting joys of childhood road trips that families must negotiate.

The most memorable work in this collection is “Hawk”, which is technically a short story. In this work, Sreenivasan looks back on her commitment to the immigrant mother-daughter relationship. In this story, too, the girl is plagued by doubts that she disappointed her successful mother OBGYN with setbacks in her career and marriage. However, the story continues to reveal secrets such as the personal crisis of the mother from whom she protected her daughter. The story also offers a sharp critique of the official multiculturalism practiced in schools, promoting diversity in a superficial way, while remaining unresponsive to any curriculum content that challenges normative ideas about culture, race, and religion. I learned from Sreenivasan’s blog that she is a high school teacher. It’s very rare that I read a work that I think I want to teach in my own first year composition classes at university. “Hawk” is one such provocative news item, which is likely to reignite discussions about teaching race in America. Sreenivasan’s stories offer many learning moments, without losing the ability to entertain us. The balance with which she navigates the comedic and tragic aspects of immigrant life made me want to read more.

Lopamudra Basu is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She grew up in Calcutta and currently lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

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