Saturday, January 27, 2007

World Fusion Bookshelf

Receding borders, political realignments, conflict-driven migration and economic necessity have driven large populations and diverse cultures across the globe. As a result, voices from the diaspora are finding their way into mainstream literature.

Non-resident Indians writing in English comprise a growing source of cultural-fusion fiction. Harvard physician, Sanjay Nigam's novel, The Snake Charmer, is a good example. Pulitzer Prize winning Jhumpa Lahiri's offerings: Interpreter of Maladies and Namesake are much celebrated in book club circles. Foothill College professor, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has contributed the Mistress of Spices to the mix.

Vietnamese Americans are also adding to the bookshelf. The Tapestries by New York dentist, Kien Nguyen, is a lush and vivid a tale of mystery and inter-generational betrayal in imperial Viet Nam. A wonderful read.

The conflict in Afghanistan is responsible for driving the family of Khaled Hosseini to California. His first novel about life in his homeland, The Kite Runner, provides readers a rare and intimate perspective on life in that war-torn hotspot.

The children of immigrants are contributing cross-cultural stories of assimilation and conflict. Amy Tan is well known. Kim Wong Keltner's Dim Sum of all Things is another novel with the Chinese-American Zeitgeist that can only be found in San Francisco. And of course, there are many more. Too many to list in a single post.

Just like some of the freshest, most creative cinema is coming from third-world indie producers; and some of the most original and melodic music can be found in the worldbeat category; the world fusion bookshelf is producing some remarkable works by unexpected talents. A good thing for those with discriminating tastes.

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