Growing Up Ethnic in America: Contemporary Fiction About Learning to Be American

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9780140280630: Growing Up Ethnic in America: Contemporary Fiction About Learning to Be American

Stories navigating the commplicated terrain of race in America, from acclaimed writers like Toni Morrison, E.L. Doctorow, Sandra Cisneros, Sherman Alexie, and Amy Tan

The editors who brought us Unsettling America and Identity Lessons have compiled a short-story anthology that focuses on themes of racial and ethnic assimilation. With humor, passion, and grace, the contributors lay bare poignant attempts at conformity and the alienation sometimes experienced by ethnic Americans. But they also tell of the strength gained through the preservation of their communities, and the realization that it was often their difference from the norm that helped them to succeed. In pieces suggesting that American identity is far from settled, these writers illustrate the diversity that is the source of both the nation's great discord and infinite promise.

"These beautiful stories radiate with the poignant, ingenious ways young people come to terms with their ethnic identities, negotiating their families, school, friends and their futures . . . This exemplary collection fulfills the editors' aims: to open dialogue and encourage the telling of difficult, adaptive or affirming life experiences." -Publisher's Weekly

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About the Author:

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the director of The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, New Jersey. She is the author of five collections of poetry.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A companion volume to Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural American Poetry that draws on work by some first-rate writers to make the point that that modern ideas about what it means to be an American are changing. The change, of course, is a result both of the influx of new immigrants and of the growing awareness of distinct identities and unique histories among older immigrant groups. While this is not entirely news, the Gillans generally strong anthology does demonstrate the ways in which some very skilled writers have explored these issues. The tales are divided into four sections: ``Performing'' gathers stories (by E.L. Doctorow, Amy Tan, Gary Soto, and Daryl Pinckney, among others) that focus on the ways members of distinct ethnic communities have tried to identify and (to varying extent) adapt or imitate concepts about what it means to be an American. The tales in ``Crossing'' (which includes work by Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, and Lynne Sharon Schwartz) follow a variety of hesitant efforts by such individuals to straddle the divide between their cultures and American society. ``Negotiating'' features stories (by, among others, Gish Jen, Bruce Jacobs, and Diane Glancy) that probe the many ways in which those without much power to effect change try to find some sense of security in the US without entirely jettisoning their past. And the pieces in ``Bridging'' (including those by Sherman Alexie, Simon Ortiz, and Sylvia Watanabe) deal largely with the efforts of outsiders to reconnect with the cultures they have left behind. The stories, set largely in the recent past or in the present, and ranging in setting from Indian reservations to besieged urban neighborhoods, offer some sensitive and compelling readings of the struggles of those often rendered voiceless by society. An impressive gathering of tales charting the turbulent nature of modern American society, and the efforts of individuals and groups often considered outside the mainstream to discover and maintain their identities. -- Copyright 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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