New Immigrant Literatures in the United States: A Sourcebook to Our Multicultural Literary Heritage

By Alpana Sharma Knippling | Go to book overview

Israelis, and even some women who are not Jewish. The novel is Jewish in its concern for the law and ritual; it is feminist in focusing on the group and having no individual who stands out; and it is archaic, and at the same time modernist, in being told in a language redolent of epic, myth, and folktale.

It would be misleading to emphasize the religious dimension of this new writing. Secular-mindedness remains the norm, among younger Jewish women writers as among the men. One thinks of Cathleen Schine Rameau's Niece, an irreverent send-up of New York intellectual types, and of Rebecca Goldstein's The Mind-Body Problem and The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind. Even Allegra Goodman, who draws on substantial Jewish learning, remains more an ethnic than a religious writer. She is basically a satiric observer of manners, in the tradition of Jane Austen. That her fourth- and fifth-generation Jewish-American characters display so odd a mix of traditional Judaic and avantgarde attitudes demonstrates, among other things, a new phase of post-immigrant experience. No longer as stiffly correct as they were fifty years ago, middle- class Jews feel safer now in America. So it's all right to "act Jewish."

That phrase itself points to a problem. Is the new Jewish consciousness mainly a matter of "acting" or of "lifestyle," the now-threadbare term that serves us in place of older, better words like "vocation" or "profession"? A recent book, Saving Remnants, answers yes to that question. The authors, Sara Bershtel and Allen Graubard, telegraph their conclusions in the subtitle, Feeling Jewish in America. Their view is that selective religious observance, determined by mood rather than tradition, makes feel-good Jews pretty much like other hyphenated Americans, who are often being most conformist when they are being most ethnic. Jewish religious law, as Bershtel and Graubard point out, is not compatible with an off-again, on-again impulse to "feel" Jewish.

Saving Remnants is attuned to the weightlessness of some parts of contemporary Jewish-American experience. But it is too early to pronounce on the fate of Jewishness in America or on the profundity of the changes in Jewish consciousness. It will take many more decades before it becomes clear just what has been the effect on Jewish identity of the Holocaust. Then, too, there is the ongoing drama of Israel. These two epochal historical actualities have brought about changes in self-awareness that make the Jewish experience in America different from that of other immigrant groups. Whether the Jewish sense of "feeling different" will be enough to overcome countervailing trends--accelerating percentages of intermarriage and assimilation, decline of Jewish education, and so on--remains uncertain. But clearly, many gifted writers are engaging with the Jewish past and present in a way that distinguishes them from the merely fashionable and light-minded.


SELECTED PRIMARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Apple Max. The Oranging of America. New York: Grossman, 1976.

Arendt Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. 1951. New York: Harvest Books, 1973.

Bell Daniel. The End of Ideology. 1960. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

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New Immigrant Literatures in the United States: A Sourcebook to Our Multicultural Literary Heritage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Works Cited xix
  • I - Asian-American Literatures 1
  • 1 - Arab-American Literature 3
  • Conclusion 15
  • Notes 15
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 16
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 17
  • 2 - Armenian-American Literature Khachig Tololyan 19
  • Conclusion 37
  • Notes 39
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 40
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 41
  • 3 - Chinese-American Literature 43
  • Introduction 43
  • Notes 62
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 62
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 63
  • 4 - Filipino American Literature Nerissa Balce-Cortes and Jean Vengua Gier 67
  • Conclusion 84
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 86
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 87
  • 5 - Indian-American Literature 91
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 105
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 107
  • 6 - Iranian-American Literature Nasrin Rahimieh 109
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 122
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 123
  • 7 - Japanese-American Literature Benzi Zhang 125
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 140
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 141
  • 8 - Korean-American Literature 143
  • Conclusion 151
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 152
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 154
  • 9 - Pakistani-American Literature Sunil Sharma 159
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 164
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 167
  • II - Caribbean-American Literatures 169
  • 10 - Anglophone Caribbean-American Literature 171
  • 11 - Cuban-American Literature 187
  • Conclusion 203
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 204
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 205
  • 12 - Dominican-American Literature 207
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 216
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 218
  • 13 - Puerto Rican-American Literature Carrie Tirado Bramen 221
  • Conclusion 234
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 234
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 237
  • III - European-American Literatures 241
  • 14 - Finnish-American Literature 243
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 251
  • 15 - Greek-American Literature 253
  • Conclusion 259
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 259
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 261
  • 16 - Irish-American Literature 265
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 276
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 279
  • 17 - Italian/American Literature 281
  • Conclusion 287
  • Notes 290
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 291
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 292
  • 18 - Jewish-American Literature 295
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 305
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 307
  • 19 - Sephardic Jewish-American Literature 309
  • Introduction 309
  • Conclusion 313
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 314
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 316
  • 20 - Polish-American Literature 319
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 326
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 327
  • 21 - Slovak-American and Czech-American Literature 329
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 337
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 338
  • IV Mexican-American Literatures 339
  • 22 - Mexican-American Literature Ada Savin 341
  • Conclusion 357
  • Notes 359
  • Selected Primary Bibliography 360
  • Selected Secondary Bibliography 362
  • Selected Bibliography 367
  • Index 371
  • About the Contributors 383
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