World Literature in English

Bharati Mukherjee

biography and background Relevant links: 
Further Studies
For Course Discussion: 
  •  General issues: 


    from "American Dreamer"

     (from SAWN)
    According to Fakrul Alam, her work can be divided into three Stages:
    1. her attempts to find her identity in her Indian heritage; e.g. Tiger's Daughter, Days and Nights in Calcutta;
    2. originate in Mukherjee's own experience of racism in Canada; e.g. Wife, Darkness, The Sorrow and the Terror
    3. immigrant experience; e.g.The Middle Man and Other Stories, Jasmine, The Holder of the World, Leave It to Me

    Short bio: (from SAWN)

    Her Sense of identity as a writer:
    I maintain that I am an American writer of Indian origin, not because I'm ashamed of my past, not because I'm betraying or distorting my past, but because my whole adult life has been lived here, and I write about the people who are immigrants going through the process of making a home here... I write in the tradition of immigrant experience rather than nostalgia and expatriation. That is very important. I am saying that the luxury of being a U.S. citizen for me is that can define myself in terms of things like my politics, my sexual orientation or my education. My affiliation with readers should be on the basis of what they want to read, not in terms of my ethnicity or my race. (Mukherjee qtd. in Basbanes; source)
    . . .  I'd say I'm an American writer of Bengali-Indian origin. In other words, the writer/political activist in me is more obsessed with addressing the issues of minority discourse in the U.S. and Canada, the two countries I have lived and worked in over the last thirty odd years. The national mythology that my imagination is driven to create, through fiction, is that of the post-Vietnam United States. I experience, simultaneously, the pioneer's capacity to be shocked and surprised by the new culture, and the immigrant's willingness to de-form and re-form that culture. At this moment, my Calcutta childhood and adolescence offer me intriguing, incompletely-comprehended revelations about my hometown, my family, my place in that community: the kind of revelations that fuel the desire to write an autobiography rather than to mythologize an Indian national identity.  (source)
    . . . "Mine is a clear-eyed but definite love of America. I'm aware of the brutalities, the violances here, but in the long run my characters are survivors....I feel there are people born to be Americans. By American I mean an intensity of spirit and a quality desire. I feel American in a very fundamental way,whether Americans see me that way or not." (source)

    "The Lady from Lucknow" setting, Georgia, Atlanta
    General question: What does the affair mean to her, to James and his wife respectively?  Why has an affair to do with one's self-identity?

    Relevant links: General
  • Biography - Criticism
  • Bharati Mukherjee from Postcolonial Studies at Emory
  • Bharati Mukherjee from SAWNET
  • Works by Mukherjee and reviews (from SAWN)
  • Angela. A short story on India world. July 1997.
    Leave It to Me. Knopf, 1997. [Review from] [Review from NYT]
    Holder of the World; a novel 1993 [Review by Michiko Kakatuni in the New York Times.] [Review by K. Anthony Appiah in the New York Times.]
    Jasmine 1989 [Review by Michiko Kakatuni in the NYT.] [Review by Michael Gorra in the NYT.]
    Middleman and Other Stories 1988 [Review by Jonathan Raban in the NYT.]
    Tiger's Daughter 1987
    Darkness 1985 [Review by Hope Cooke in the NYT.]
    Days and Nights in Calcutta 1977

             Wife 1975
    Further Studies: I am an American, not an Asian-American. My rejection of hyphenation has been called race treachery, but it is really a demand that America deliver the promises of its dream to all its citizens equally.