Like the linked collections and novels-in-stories of Junot Diaz, Louise Erdrich, and Julia Alvarez, like Faulkner's classics The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, Robbie Clipper Sethi's Fifty-Fifty tells the story of a family and their culture from a variety of points of view in their own individual voices.
Gulab Kaur Gill is not the only member of this Punjabi Sikh family to live through "countless" lives, without ever reincarnating. After the Partition of India in 1947, the Gills start again in New Delhi. As a place where her three grown daughters and son can live together and prosper, Gulab looks to the Middle East, "where so many of our boys had gone to make money off the rich Arabs." But politics interferes again, and her daughters fly like dandelion seeds to Africa and England. She sends her son to America, where "No one gets kicked out."
One by one, three generations tell their stories of desire, loss, and hope. Granddaughter Rosa begins with her assimilation to the multi-culture of a California high school. She introduces us to family, then lets her grandmother recount the family's odyssey from east to west. Like global bungee jumpers, Rosa's cousins and Gulab's grandchildren bounce back and forth between the east and west, giving birth, going wrong, struggling with American values, falling in love, and finding-or losing-themselves.
Gulab's expectations run throughout these testimonials, obsessing her daughters and burdening her son as he works to realize the American Dream. They may be read as chapters of a continuous narrative or as individual stories-a global album of this family's progress from loss to gain.
Globalization and affordable communications and travel have shrunk our world in the twenty-first century. Fifty-Fifty brings this world closer, making enjoyable and familiar what was once exotic and remote. Robbie Clipper Sethi reveals the hearts and souls beneath the surface of these new American faces increasingly visible on the streets of America, in its schools, and in the workplace. She will make you laugh. And think. And cry.
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Robbie Clipper Sethi is the author of The Bride Wore Red, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. The title chapter received special mention in the 1998 Pushcart Prize XXII Best of the Small Presses. Her fiction has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Sethi's stories and poems have appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Mademoiselle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, US1, and a variety of literary magazines and anthologies, including Other Voices, Screaming Monkeys, Alaska Quarterly Review, Boulevard, The Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, and Ascent. She co-edits fiction for The Kelsey Review.
Sethi is a professor and chair of the Department of English at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. In 2002, she won Rider's Distinguished Teaching award. She was born in Camden and raised in Cherry Hill, NJ and is an alumna of Indiana University, Bloomington and the University of California, Berkeley. Her family was the subject of a New Jersey Network documentary in the American Family Portraits series. Her husband, a Punjabi Sikh, was raised in New Delhi and came to Berkeley in 1970.Review:
One of the best multicultural sagas to come along in a long while! -- Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2002
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Book Description Silicon Pr, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0929306244