Reading Together, Reading Apart

Reading Together, Reading Apart : Identity, Belonging, and South Asian American Community

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Often thought of as a solitary activity, the practice of reading can in fact encode the complex politics of community formation. Engagement with literary culture represents a particularly integral facet of identity formation--and serves as an expression of a sense of belonging--within the South Asian diaspora in the United States. Tamara Bhalla blends a case study with literary and textual analysis to illuminate this phenomenon. Her fascinating investigation considers institutions from literary reviews to the marketplace and social media and other technologies, as well as traditional forms of literary discussion like book clubs and academic criticism. Throughout, Bhalla questions how her subjects' circumstances, shared race and class, and desires limit the values they ascribe to reading. She also examines how ideology circulating around a body of literature or a self-selected, imagined community of readers shapes reading itself and influences South Asians' powerful, if contradictory, relationship with ideals of cultural authenticity.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 20.32mm | 476.27g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252040481
  • 9780252040481

Review quote

"Bhalla's nuanced, sensitive analysis illuminates how nonacademic readers grapple with issues of authenticity, class, and gender as they engage with transnational South Asian literature. This rigorously-researched book significantly enhances discussions of the consumption and marketing of ethnic literatures and identities."--Megan Sweeney, author of The Story Within Us: Women Prisoners Reflect on Reading Bhalla offers a multi-layered, interdisciplinary treatment on the possibilities (and limitations) involved in both the act of reading and formation of ethnic identities. This thoughtful and thought-provoking book deserves its own reading club.--Pawan Dhingra, author of Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream
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About Tamara Bhalla

Tamara Bhalla is an assistant professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
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