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A Patchwork Shawl: Chronicles of South Asian Women in America (edition 1998)
A Patchwork Shawl: Chronicles of South Asian Women in America by Shamita Das Dasgupta
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0813525187, Paperback)In the 1960s, Shamita Das Dasgupta moved from India to the United States with her husband. They settled in the Midwest, feeling culturally stranded and pressured on all sides to cut loose ties to their mother country while taking on the customs of their adopted land. In A Patchwork Shawl, Dasgupta works to make sense of the divide she and her children straddle, as do other essay writers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan. "Such a Catch-22!" writes Naheed Hasnat in the essay "Being 'Amreekan.'" "Your classmates do not think you are American enough, and your parents think you're too Westernized. At school you are the strange brown kid trying to fit in. At home, you are forgetting your cultural customs, beginning to like fried chicken more than chicken tikka, and choosing to speak English over Urdu."
Some contributors speak to the difficulty of maintaining a personal identity unacceptable to the community. After her mother warned her not to publicly admit she was lesbian because Pakistanis who learned this might "break your legs, mutilate your face," Surina Khan turned her back on her heritage and family. Only after her mother grudgingly began to accept her sexual identity did she start searching for other "South Asian queers" in an effort to quell the isolation she felt. Other writers talk of issues like marital rape and domestic violence or challenge stereotypes like the image of South Asian women as meek and unassertive. This rich, wide-ranging collection illustrates the differences and similarities between these women as they try to strike a balance between feeling cradled and strangled by the strength of their roots. --Francesca Coltrera
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 15 Nov 2010 06:53:21 -0500)
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