A part, yet apart: South Asians in Asian America by Lavina Dhingra Shankar, Rajini Srikanth

By Lavina Dhingra Shankar, Rajini Srikanth

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3 million (108 percent increase) in the 1980s, making it, in each period, the fastest-growing immigrant group. , "green card" holders), who would obviously increase the relative proportions and absolute numbers considerably. Page xiv Of the Asians in America today, those who originated from East/Southeast Asia compose about three-quarters of the total, while those from South Asia compose just over a tenth. Historically, in the period 18201990, the number of immigrants from East Asia has been more than seven times that from South Asia, though since the 1980s, with the increasing percentage of South Asians entering, this ratio is reducing somewhat.

SOUTH ASIANS CHALLENGE ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES Lavina Dhingra Shankar and Rajini Srikanth As the "Asian American" label broadens to accommodate new immigrant groups, the term is coming under critical scrutiny. 2 The more recent perception of Asian American identity encompasses people of many different races, linguistic groups, religions, cultures, and nations; people with different preimmigration histories and dissimilar immigration patterns; and people whose educational, economic, and social positions within this country vary greatly as well.

Yet, Birkerts raises questions that may also exist both among the "majority" East Asians and the "minority" South Asians within Asian America. The inclusion of the newer Asian groups might seem "too jarring and eclectic," both for those who are being included and for those who have to relinquish their territory to make space for newcomers. And South Asian writers have indeed arrived with a bang in America, especially in the 1990s. Even a cursory glance at some recently published works by South Asians in the United States reveals the abundance of literary activity: Meena Alexander's Fault Lines (1993) and Manhattan Music (1997), Agha Shahid Ali's A Nostalgist's Map of America (1991), Indran Amirthanayagam's The Elephants of Reckoning (1993), Chitra Divakaruni's Black Candle (1991), Arranged Marriage (1995) and Mistress of Spices (1997), Ginu Kamani's Junglee Girl (1995), Ameena Meer's Bombay Talkie (1994), Bharati Mukherjee's The Holder of the World Page 10 (1993), Kirin Narayan's Love, Stars, and All That (1994), Bapsi Sidhwa's An American Brat (1993), Abraham Verghese's My Own Country (1994), and various stories by Tahira Naqvi.

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