New Strangers in Paradise: The Immigrant Experience and Contemporary American Fiction

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New Strangers in Paradise offers the first in-depth account of the ways in which contemporary American fiction has been shaped by the successive generations of immigrants to reach U.S. shores. Gilbert Muller reveals how the intersections of peoples, regions, and competing cultural histories have remade the American cultural landscape in the aftermath of World War II.

Muller focuses on the literature of Holocaust survivors, Chicanos, Latinos, African Caribbeans, and Asian Americans. In the quest for a new identity, each of these groups seeks the American dream and rewrites the story of what it means to be an American. New Strangers in Paradise explores the psychology of uprooted peoples and the relations of culture and power, addressing issues of race and ethnicity, multiculturalism and pluralism, and national and international conflicts.

Examining the groups of immigrants in the cultural and historical context both of America and of the lands from which they originated, Muller argues that this "fourth wave" of immigration has led to a creative flowering in modern fiction. The book offers a fresh perspective on the writings of Vladimir Nabokov, Sual Bellow, William Styron, Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, Oscar Hijuelos, Jamaica Kincaid, Bharati Mukherjee, Rudolfo Anaya, and many others.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A convincing, exciting study." — Journal of the American Studies Association

"An exciting book about the literature of contemporary immigrants to the United States." — Library Journal

"Defines and surveys an important field of American literary study. By immersing himself in the histories of the peoples he writes about, Muller is able to contextualize the literature in very effective and informative ways." — Steven Weisenburger

"Arguably the best general introduction to the subject." — Choice

"An ambitious attempt to analyze a select group of literature on postwar immigrants in an effort to understand how their arrival and existence in the United States have redefined a national identity and narrative for America." — Journal of American Ethnic History

Library Journal
Muller (English, LaGuardia Coll., CUNY) has written an exciting book about the literature of contemporary immigrants to the United States. Muller discusses the historic and sociological forces that have shaped the country's new demographics, including changes in the immigration laws in 1965 that were especially important--and little noticed at the time. Displaced persons from Europe as well as the Mexican, Caribbean, and Asian diasporas are all described. Some of the many authors discussed are Isaac Bashevis Singer, Oscar Hijuelos, Jamaica Kincaid, Amy Tan, and Bharati Mukherjee. Muller explains the historic hardships and tragedies of the various communities while showing that the literature is surprisingly optimistic. She is especially good at discussing the Spanish and English Caribbean and Asian authors. Recommended for literature and subaltern studies collections.--Gene Shaw, New York P.L. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813192000
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 4/11/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Gilbert H. Muller, professor of English and special assistant to the president at the LaGuardia campus of the City University of New York, is the author of numerous articles, textbooks, and critical studies, including Bridges: Literature Across Cultures.

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Table of Contents

1 Promised Land: Postwar Fiction and the Immigrant Experience 1
2 Haunted by the Holocaust: Displaced Persons and the American Dream 27
3 Migrant Souls: The Chicano Quest for National Identity 59
4 Metropolitan Dreams: Latino Voyagers from the Caribbean 93
5 Middle Passage: The African-Caribbean Diaspora 139
6 Gold Mountains: The Asian-American Odyssey 171
7 Searching for America 217
Bibliography 239
Index 257
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