Trailing Clouds: Immigrant Fiction in Contemporary America

Trailing Clouds: Immigrant Fiction in Contemporary America

by David Cowart


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Trailing Clouds: Immigrant Fiction in Contemporary America by David Cowart

"We stand to learn much about the durability of or changes in the American way of life from writers such as Bharati Mukherjee (born in India), Ursula Hegi (born in Germany), Jerzy Kosinski (born in Poland), Jamaica Kincaid (born in Antigua), Cristina Garcia (born in Cuba), Edwidge Danticat (born in Haiti), Wendy Law-Yone (born in Burma), Mylène Dressler (born in the Netherlands), Lan Cao (born in Vietnam), and such Korean-born authors as Chang-rae Lee, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Nora Okja Keller—writers who in recent years have come to this country and, in their work, contributed to its culture."—David CowartIn Trailing Clouds, David Cowart offers fresh insights into contemporary American literature by exploring novels and short stories published since 1970 by immigrant writers. Balancing historical and social context with close readings of selected works, Cowart explores the major themes raised in immigrant writing: the acquisition of language, the dual identity of the immigrant, the place of the homeland, and the nature of citizenship.Cowart suggests that the attention to first-generation writers (those whose parents immigrated) has not prepared us to read the fresher stories of those more recent arrivals whose immigrant experience has been more direct and unmediated. Highlighting the nuanced reflection in immigrant fiction of a nation that is ever more diverse and multicultural, Cowart argues that readers can learn much about the changes in the American way of life from writers who have come to this country, embraced its culture, and penned substantial literary work in English.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801472879
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 06/28/2006
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

David Cowart is Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Humanities at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of several books, including Don DeLillo: The Physics of Language and Literary Symbiosis: The Reconfigured Text in Twentieth-Century Writing.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction: The New Immigrant Writing     1
Slavs of New York: Being There, Mr. Sammler's Planet     14
Immigration and Primal Scene: Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents     41
Survival on the Tangled Bank: Hegi's The Vision of Emma Blau and Mukherjee's Jasmine     55
Language, Dreams, and Art in Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban     86
Korean Connection: Chang-rae Lee and Company     101
Haitian Persephone: Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory     126
Assimilation and Adolescence: Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy and Lan Cao's Monkey Bridge     138
Ethnicity as Pentimento: Mylene Dressler's The Deadwood Beetle     160
Immigration as Bardo: Wendy Law-Yone's The Coffin Tree     172
Closet and Mask: Junot Diaz's Drown     190
Conclusion: We, Them, Us     205
Notes     213
Works Cited     229
Index     239

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