Growing Up Ethnic in America: Contemporary Fiction About Learning to Be American by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Jennifer Gillan |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Growing Up Ethnic in America: Contemporary Fiction About Learning to Be American

Growing Up Ethnic in America: Contemporary Fiction About Learning to Be American

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by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Jennifer Gillan
     
 

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The editors who brought us Unsettling America and Identity Lessons have compiled a short-story anthology that focuses on themes of racial and ethnic assimilation. With humor, passion, and grace, the contributors lay bare poignant attempts at conformity and the alienation sometimes experienced by ethnic Americans. But they also tell of the strength

Overview

The editors who brought us Unsettling America and Identity Lessons have compiled a short-story anthology that focuses on themes of racial and ethnic assimilation. With humor, passion, and grace, the contributors lay bare poignant attempts at conformity and the alienation sometimes experienced by ethnic Americans. But they also tell of the strength gained through the preservation of their communities, and the realization that it was often their difference from the norm that helped them to succeed. In pieces suggesting that American identity is far from settled, these writers illustrate the diversity that is the source of both the nation's great discord and infinite promise.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In their third editorial collaboration, the mother-daughter Gillan team (Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry) collects 35 wide-ranging literary voices, this time on the theme of ethnic childhood in America. Including excerpts from modern classics by such acclaimed authors as Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Sandra Cisneros and E.L. Doctorow, the Gillans shape this compilation of fictional works around four concepts--performing, crossing, negotiating and bridging--focusing on the often contradictory, sometimes humorous process of reconciling personal identity with perceived ideals of "American" culture. Gary Soto writes of a nine-year-old boy's deep wish to have dinner like the Cleaver family on TV, neatly dressed (even wearing shoes!) and eating mashed potatoes, instead of beans and tortillas. Gish Jen recounts a delightfully tentative eighth-grade romance between confident Chinese-American Mona Chang and a Japanese exchange student. Veronica Chambers reveals with swift, sure strokes the magical, protective power in a girl's mastery of double Dutch. And Beena Kamlani paints a stirring portrait of a conservative, heartbroken Indian-American family whose 15-year-old daughter is pregnant. These beautiful stories radiate with the poignant, ingenious ways young people come to terms with their ethnic identities, negotiating their families, school, friends and their futures. The four sections around which the works are structured sometimes seem arbitrary, and the editors themselves recognize that the selected stories defy classification. The volume would be useful in the classroom from grade school to university, for the stories are accessible but rich with meaning. This exemplary collection fulfills the editors' aims: to open dialogue and encourage the telling of difficult, adaptive or affirming life experiences. Author appearances. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A companion volume to Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural American Poetry that draws on work by some first-rate writers to make the point that that modern ideas about what it means to be an American are changing. The change, of course, is a result both of the influx of new immigrants and of the growing awareness of distinct identities and unique histories among older immigrant groups. While this is not entirely news, the Gillans' generally strong anthology does demonstrate the ways in which some very skilled writers have explored these issues. The tales are divided into four sections: "Performing" gathers stories (by E.L. Doctorow, Amy Tan, Gary Soto, and Daryl Pinckney, among others) that focus on the ways members of distinct ethnic communities have tried to identify and (to varying extent) adapt or imitate concepts about what it means to be an American. The tales in "Crossing" (which includes work by Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, and Lynne Sharon Schwartz) follow a variety of hesitant efforts by such individuals to straddle the divide between their cultures and American society. "Negotiating" features stories (by, among others, Gish Jen, Bruce Jacobs, and Diane Glancy) that probe the many ways in which those without much power to effect change try to find some sense of security in the US without entirely jettisoning their past. And the pieces in "Bridging" (including those by Sherman Alexie, Simon Ortiz, and Sylvia Watanabe) deal largely with the efforts of outsiders to reconnect with the cultures they have left behind. The stories, set largely in the recent past or in the present, and ranging in setting from Indian reservations to besieged urbanneighborhoods, offer some sensitive and compelling readings of the struggles of those often rendered voiceless by society. An impressive gathering of tales charting the turbulent nature of modern American society, and the efforts of individuals and groups often considered outside the mainstream to discover and maintain their identities.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140280630
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/28/1999
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,106,666
Product dimensions:
5.29(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.85(d)
Lexile:
910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the director of The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, New Jersey. She is the author of five collections of poetry.

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Growing up Ethnic in America: Contemporary Fiction about Learning to Be American 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thsi is truly an exceptional book. It helps the reader to explore themany facets of ethnicity in the USA and what is gaineed and what is lost in the search to be American and to fit in. Stories in this book are written by writers such as Toni Morrison, Gish Jen, Amy Tan, Sherman Alexie, E.L.Doctorow, Nash CAndalaria. Many have dashes of humor and are both poigant and funny. Highly recommended for use in classes as well as for bedside reading.