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Trailing Clouds: Immigrant Fiction in Contemporary America

by David Cowart Cornell University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 264 pages
AU$57.99 NZ$60.86
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“We stand to learn much about the durability of or changes in the American way of life from writers such as Bharati Mukherjee (born in India), Ursula Hegi (born in Germany), Jerzy Kosinski (born in Poland), Jamaica Kincaid (born in Antigua), Cristina Garcia (born in Cuba), Edwidge Danticat (born in Haiti), Wendy Law-Yone (born in Burma), Mylène Dressler (born in the Netherlands), Lan Cao (born in Vietnam), and such Korean-born authors as Chang-rae Lee, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Nora Okja Keller—writers who in recent years have come to this country and, in their work, contributed to its culture.”—David CowartIn Trailing Clouds, David Cowart offers fresh insights into contemporary American literature by exploring novels and short stories published since 1970 by immigrant writers. Balancing historical and social context with close readings of selected works, Cowart explores the major themes raised in immigrant writing: the acquisition of language, the dual identity of the immigrant, the place of the homeland, and the nature of citizenship.Cowart suggests that the attention to first-generation writers (those whose parents immigrated) has not prepared us to read the fresher stories of those more recent arrivals whose immigrant experience has been more direct and unmediated. Highlighting the nuanced reflection in immigrant fiction of a nation that is ever more diverse and multicultural, Cowart argues that readers can learn much about the changes in the American way of life from writers who have come to this country, embraced its culture, and penned substantial literary work in English.
''David Cowart's Trailing Clouds breaks new ground in this carefully developed study of the explosion of recent immigrant fiction in the United States. Combining close readings of several well-known novels (Nabokov's Pnin and Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet) and numerous recent works that have as yet received little critical attention, Cowart devises a controversial but persuasive thesis that the American Dream is still alive-and perhaps most alive for contemporary immigrants to this country. Trailing Clouds, then, not only offers fresh insights into the nature of recent immigrant fiction but into the nature of the immigrant experience itself.''-Larry McCaffery, San Diego State University, author of Storming the Reality Studio, Postmodern Fiction: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide, and The Metafictional Muse
David Cowart is Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Humanities at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of several books, including Don DeLillo: The Physics of Language and Literary Symbiosis: The Reconfigured Text in Twentieth-Century Writing.