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Mukherjee's previous collection of stories-- Darkness [BKL Ja 1 86]-- examined the unsettled lives of immigrants from India to North America, and her new volume takes those experiences one step further. The characters are no longer exclusively Indian but now represent the whole range of people from around the world who live and work in the U.S. Also new is the almost joyful adaptability and heedless acceptance of the life-styles these immigrants have taken to heart. It's consumer society run amuck, with native-born citizens serving as unwitting role models for the outrageous materialistic splurges that make these new residents more American than the Americans they're copying. Once again Mukherjee's stories are at once blithely satirical and deeply moving as they depict characters who are building new lives and shrugging off old traditions. JB.
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As evidenced in her first short story collection Darkness and two novels, The Tiger's Daughter and Wife, Mukherjee's central preoccupation is the problematical nature of personal encounters between East and West. These expertly crafted tales continue to have that focus; all turn on recent Third World immigrant experience in or closely affected by North America. Mukherjee makes the ambitious attempt to narrate through the voices of characters as diverse as a middle-class Italian-American suburbanite, a Sephardic mercenary from Smyrna by way of Flushing, Queens, a Trinidadian mother's helper and an Atlantan investment banker. But in striving for extended range she sometimes undercuts the authenticity and immediacy of her stories. The most successful tales are those told from the point of view of characters from the Indian subcontinent, especially women. It is Mukherjee's keen eye for telling and sensuous detail that make these stories rewarding. Her limpid prose has a capacity to surprise with trenchant wit and delight with finely calibrated lyricism. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved