Bharati Mukherjee, Jasmine, (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1989).
Mukherjee was born in Calcutta, India in 1940 to upper-caste (Brahmin) parents. She emigrated first to the United States in 1961, and then to Canada in 1968. She is a naturalized citizen of both countries. She married an American in 1963 while completing her MFA and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. She has written numerous critically acclaimed books, of which Jasmine is one of the most recent. Most of her novels reflect her personal experiences traveling between two worlds; her native India and North America (represented by the USA and Canada). All of her books deal with young women trying to cross cultural boundaries, reconcile old and new identities, and somehow create a stable life. Mukherjee actually returned to India with her husband in 1973, but she no longer felt at home. She found a world far less innocent than she remembered, and found that fondly remembered traditions now hid fear and oppression (especially for women). As a result, most of her work also deals with the promises and pitfalls of what we call "globalization" in HIS 212. Jasmine is a very rich text, and I want you to pay very close attention to culture clashes, especially as they are reflected in Jasmine's various incarnations.
In late 1989, Mukherjee told the Los Angeles Times "I truly appreciate the special qualities that America and American national myths offer me. I've lived everywhere [and] I"m truly touched and moved by the idea of America. It includes you and is curious about other people. Includes you, allows you to think of yourself as American. Other countries in Europe, and Canada, deliberately exclude you. You wouldn't dare to think of yourself [as one of them]." In a Publishers Weekly interview from the same year, she added "mine is a clear-eyed but definite love of America. I"m aware of the brutalities, the violences here, but in the long run my characters are survivors; they've been helped, as I have, by good, strong people of conviction.