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Reading Together, Reading ApartIdentity, Belonging, and South Asian American Community$
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Tamara Bhalla

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040481

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040481.001.0001

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Thinking and Feeling with Her

Thinking and Feeling with Her

Representation and Affect in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake

(p.103) 4 Thinking and Feeling with Her
Reading Together, Reading Apart

Tamara Bhalla

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on how discourses of authenticity in transnational South Asian literary culture produce ambivalence about belonging by exploring how these discourses function specifically in the field of interpretation, shifting from a focus on the disciplinary effects of ideologies of authenticity to an exploration of the field of interpretation around a touchstone text of South Asian American experience, The Namesake. The Namesake has become an oversignified text for nonacademic readers of South Asian descent and academics alike, both of whom bring overlapping, authenticating, representational desires to their interpretations of this novel. The chapter argues that the field of interpretation around this novel signals a broader ambivalence about South Asian belonging in the United States across a variety of reading audiences.

Keywords:   authenticity, South Asian literary culture, interpretation, South Asian American experience, The Namesake, reading audiences

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