Suburban Sahibs: Three Immigrant Families and Their Passage from India to America

Suburban Sahibs: Three Immigrant Families and Their Passage from India to America

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by S. Mitra Kalita
     
 
Winner of the Celebration of Immigrant Voices Award from the International Institute of New Jersey

S. Mitra Kalita was awarded the New Jersey Authors Award in 2004 from the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance and New Jersey Library Association.

Edison, New Jersey, is in many ways the quintessential American suburb—under an hour from New York City by train,

Overview

Winner of the Celebration of Immigrant Voices Award from the International Institute of New Jersey

S. Mitra Kalita was awarded the New Jersey Authors Award in 2004 from the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance and New Jersey Library Association.

Edison, New Jersey, is in many ways the quintessential American suburb—under an hour from New York City by train, subdivided neatly into houses with identical floor plans, and dotted with mini-malls, gas stations, and monster movie theaters. Named after the famous inventor of the light bulb, town officials often boast it is the place "where tomorrow was born."

Suburban Sahibs urges that this adage might still ring true. As immigration has continuously redefined America, it has also radically transformed the American suburb. By tracing the migration of three families from India to central New Jersey, this book delves into how immigration has altered the American suburb, and how the suburb, in turn, has altered the immigrant.

From movie theaters showing the songs and gyrations of "Bollywood" to valedictorians named Patel and Shah, signs are everywhere that Middlesex County is home to one of the largest Indian populations in the world outside India. Although the reception from long-time residents has not been entirely welcoming, Indians have come to achieve economic success and their desire for political and social parity continues to grow stronger.

In this captivating narrative, journalist S. Mitra Kalita traces the evolution of the suburb from a destination for new arrivals to a launching pad for them. She focuses on three waves of immigration in the post-civil rights era through the stories of three families: the Kotharis, Patelsand Sarmas.

In the late nineteenth century, tourists descended upon Edison to gawk at its Christmas lights displays. Today, thousands of Indians from all over the United States arrive in the same bedroom community to celebrate their own festivals of lights and colors. Suburban Sahibs attempts to answer the question of how and why they arrived, and it offers a window into what America has become: a nation of suburbs as well as a nation of immigrants.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Vikram Chandra, Jhumpa Lahiri and other celebrated writers of the South Asian diaspora have given us some of the most exciting new fiction in English of recent years. To a growing shelf of fictional portraits of the Indian expatriate experience, S. Mitra Kalita now adds a work of nonfiction that stands up well in their company. Modest in scope, but as shapely as fiction and as timely as this morning's newspaper, this book is an informative one to read for pleasure. — John S. Major
Library Journal
The immigrant experience in modern America is increasingly a suburban one, and Middlesex County in central New Jersey has been a popular destination for many recent immigrant families, particularly from South Asia. Education reporter Kalita (Washington Post) has skillfully traced the lives of three such families over a period of several years. She sheds light on the struggles faced by these families, whether working class or professional-a strength of her book is that she does not ignore the former. She shows how even well-educated immigrants, who are at the mercy of the company sponsoring their visa, typically have many hurdles to overcome to succeed in America. Kalita explores how such traditionally suburban issues as the lack of affordable housing, dependence on the privately owned automobile, and limited access to the political process affect the lives of her three immigrant families. Throughout, she succeeds admirably in portraying their stories sympathetically yet dispassionately. Recommended for academic libraries and public libraries serving significant immigrant populations.-David A. Timko, U.S. Census Bureau Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813533186
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press
Publication date:
10/28/2003
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.65(w) x 8.75(h) x 0.58(d)
Lexile:
1130L (what's this?)

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