MODEL MINORITY

Frank Chin, playwright, said in 1974 something that might still apply today: “Whites love us because we’re not black.” There’s only one way to confront the term “Model Minority” in the United States, generally applied to Asians, including South Asians. That way is to understand it as the intentional and painstaking act of ‘modeling’ a minority in the image of the majority. That, Chin was saying, was what some Asians do or feel they must: stay as far away from blacks and hispanics as possible because then the white majority won’t get “spooked” by them. By the way, since the…

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Reader, she married him…

“Reader, I married him.” Sorry, no prizes for guessing, but that’s Jane Eyre in the novel of the same name published in 1847 by ‘Currer Bell,’ aka Charlotte Bronte, and one of the best-loved novels in English Literature. I can visualize Miss Bronte, the lonely parson’s daughter — few offers of marriage, almost none of work except as underpaid teacher or governess — gazing out over the bleak, frozen Yorkshire Moors out her frosted, weepy window and exulting when her heroine says “Reader, I married him” in that Neverland where Plain Jane governesses marry handsome dark horse playboys and live…

In praise of regional cuisine

In my next novel in progress, Homeland Blues, there’s a lot about food. Specifically Indian food. Exile from it. Diaspora marriages and communities built on it. Craving for it. Craving for regional soul food. For the pungency of flavors that make you temporarily stop breathing as they exact your love. And about perhaps nativist disdain among South Asians for the popular Indian restaurant brand “curry” foods palatable to Americans, and I’d say especially Americans, who tend to be adamant about the sanctity and primacy of American tastes (sorry Ameri ca but you can be tyrannical even outside politics). One of…