In these stories the author confronts the American Dream, as immigrants and exiles transform and are transformed by the experience and the idea of America. They travelled to live and find fortune, love or adventure in a culture uneasy in their presence yet partly remaking itself in their image.In these stories the author confronts the American Dream, as immigrants and exiles transform and are transformed by the experience and the idea of America. They travelled to live and find fortune, love or adventure in a culture uneasy in their presence yet partly remaking itself in their image.Read Less
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Whether written in the voice of immigrant or American-born characters, Bharati Mukherjee's stories in The Middleman dramatize the transformation of this country by the influx of immigrants not only from South Asia but Afghanistan, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. Often employing first-person narration, the author gives voice to them, endowing the stories with an intimate, conversational quality, and allowing the author to mine the richness of the American idiom. In an interview, Mukherjee herself said that she had "adopted American English as my language."
In "The Management of Grief," the protagonist Mrs. Bhave is changed irrevocably by a plane crash in which her family is lost. The themes are the transfiguring power of grief, and the conflict between Eastern and Western modes of belief. In "Orbiting" and "Fathering," the author develops situations of cultural collision, at times for comic effect. "A Wife's Story" illuminates the title character's divided self, one who is "trained to behave well" yet altered by the American experience, bound by wifely duty yet longing to break free of the traditional female role.
Mukherjee has expressed her affinity for Bernard Malamud's stories whose characters are Eastern European Jewish immigrants, while hers are from the Third World. Still, both write about characters from ethnic communities who flee the ghetto and adapt to the patterns of mainstream American culture. This rewarding 1988 collection prefigured our present moment and the American future.
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