Class, Labor, and Immigrant Subjectivity in Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine and Shirley Geok-lin Lim's Among the White Moon Faces

in Volume 10 (2009): Issue 1 (Jun 2009): South Asia and the Americas
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In this comparative article focusing on the representation of the migration experience of two recent first-generation Asian-American authors, I consider the ways that Mukherjee and Lim's possession of important symbolic capital, their solid tertiary education, and excellent first language proficiency in English condition their portrayal of this transition from the old to the new country. If possessing such symbolic capital lends important support for any immigrant desire for American naturalization and belonging, does Mukherjee's portrayal of Jasmine's insertion into American social and cultural life and Lim's own professional positioning in the American academy register tensions and contradictions in their literary representation of the experience of successful assimilation? Do Mukherjee and Lim's prior identities as postcolonial subjects (India and Malaysia were once British colonies) inflect in distinctive ways their representation of assimilation and marginalization and home and homelessness in the American Promised Land that is the controlling telos of Asian immigrant desire?