Looking for something thoughtful and introspective to read this fall? Lucky for you, several Indian-American writers have released memoirs in recent months that explore themes as varied as race and assimilation, the immigrant experience, celebrity and living with a chronic illness. We’ve rounded them up below.
“Not Quite Not White” by Sharmila Sen
Born in Calcutta, Sharmila Sen would move to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1982 as a 12 year old. In “Not Quite Not White,” Sen explores her experience as an Indian immigrant in four closely connected essays. America’s sharp racial divide came a shock to the middle schooler Sen because, as she writes, in India she was accustomed to people primarily identifying themselves through religion and language. Sen describes how she “silently accepted the badge of honorary whiteness,” while also watching classic shows like “Happy Days” and General Hospital” in order to learn how to both talk and act like an American. As she describes her journey into claiming an American identity, Sen questions what exactly it means to be non-white in the United States.
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“Love, Loss, and What We Ate” by Padma Lakshmi
Recently released in paperback, “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi’s bestselling 2016 memoir details her upbringing as the child of a single mom, the car accident that changed her life and her rise to fame. Some of the most moving passages in “Love, Loss and What We Ate” come when Lakshmi describes her struggles with endometriosis and her fight to get first a proper diagnosis and then proper treatment. Readers who have struggled with issues like chronic pain and infertility will be struck by Lakshmi’s moving fight to address the health care gaps Lakshmi is devoted to fixing.
Purchase this moving memoir here.
“Engineering A Life” by Kishan K Bedi
On the surface, Kishan K Bedi’s story is a familiar one. Bedi writes about being determined to leave his village in Punjab because he was “determined not to sell cloth” like his father. He would arrive in the United States by boat in 1961 in order to attend college. But Bedi did not studiously hit the books and graduate with honors. Instead, he wound up almost failing out of school because, as he recalls, he was more interested in dating American girls and working at McDonalds. As Bedi writes of how he moved through a series of odd jobs and eventually did get his degree, readers will embrace hearing an unconventional coming to America story.
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