Sunday, August 30, 2009

Abroad At Home

The angst of the children born to new immigrants is a genre teeming with books. Many if not most of them are one hit wonders. Even the most talented and prolific writers often produce their best output when the are telling intensely personal stories. It is no wonder then that the first generation expat writers of Indian descent tell their coming of age (in America or elsewhere in the Western world) stories with much intensity of feeling. While their experience has been written about in excruciating painful detail, not a lot has been heard from their parents.

Nandini Pandya seeks to fill this gap in her excellent compilation of essays and short stories in the book Abroad At Home. Full disclosure - the book contains some articles I wrote as a columnist for Desijournal. The writers represent a wide swathe of expat Indian society from around the world. There are voices from Singapore, America, Canada and France who are physicians, scientists, technology consultants, artists, musicians and journalists among other things.

Each vignette in this collection covers an unique aspect of the expat experience - be it finding a spiritual home in a foreign country, assimilating the local culture while holding on to one's own, parenting challenges, having one's daughter become a soldier in Iraq or the anxiety of waiting for several years for a green card to materialize.

These are stories that will resonate with many who have not had their experiences abroad given nearly the same shelf space or importance as the genre that their kids went on to create. Pandya's idea of bringing the offline and online worlds together enriches the reading experience in an unique way. Readers of the book can read comments from the time that these essays and stories were first published online and now add their own. If you have wanted to hear the other side of the hyphenated Indian story, this book is a must read.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess this is your first paper publication...Congrats!!
May be you can publish a book sometime...

The Gori Wife said...

I'm always looking for stuff to read in this genre, thanks for the recommendation! And congrats on the publication.