Indian callings and entanglements by American- Indian authors

Two writers of Indian descent but brought up in USA has captured my interest, Anand Giridharadas and Sadia Shepard.

Anand was the first IHT correspondent in India in 2004 and wrote his narrative non-fiction India calling 2011. There he tells the story of his family leaving India in 1960s due to its poverty but also its traditions, rustic partiarchial life patterns and inability to nurture dreams. Anand did the opposite in re-entering India in 2004 to write about the emerging India for the world´s largest international daily. He gave a talk at Google recently about the background of the writing. The style is close to newpapers columns and very easy to take to, but there is a depth below the surface that gives a much more complicated feeling of what it is to live in India today with your eyes open.

Sadia Shepard has a more complicated family background that gives her reason to settle back in India (Anand is Tamil-Punjabi, stange but still imaginable): American Christan father, Muslim mother with Jewish roots. Sadia wrote in 2009 her book The girl from foreign about her search for the small Jewish congregation of Beth Israel, which are said to have come to India over two thousand years ago. She is a documentary film maker which gives her a reason to find her family roots around Pune and Mumbai, travelling with her brother and other film students. She was brought up in USA not knowing that her grandmother was Jewish until her late teens and the story unfolds into a remarkable identity puzzle. The style is personal but not sentimental, keeping the tearful American kind of huge feelings at bay.

Both books give new personal insights into the Indian identity as it expands into Western culture without losing its Hindustani distinct voice. Another generation of writers of Indian heritage has emerged, totally Westernized yet loyal to the land of their families.


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