[Reader-list] "Suburban Sahibs" released in South Asia

zehra rizvi fatimazehrarizvi at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 3 03:06:00 IST 2004

dear sarai people..

i have read this book and will be (hopefully!) interviewing mitra on my 
radio show in NJ.....please help her out if you can since the book is really 
very wonderful.
i am going to cc her on this email so please feel free to get in touch with 
her if you need to.


mitra, if you havent already, check out sarai.net

>From: "S. Mitra Kalita" <smkalita at yahoo.com>
>To: saja-disc at lists.jrn.columbia.edu, students 
<sajastudents at yahoogroups.com>,  sawcc <sawcc at yahoogroups.com>
>Subject: [sawcc] STORY IDEA: "Suburban Sahibs" released in 
South Asia
>Date: Tue, 1 Jun 2004 21:02:37 -0700 (PDT)
>Review copies (journalists only):
>hemali.sodhi at penguin-india.com.
>Interviews: smkalita at yahoo.com or call 202-607-6836
>Hi, all:
>I'd like to thank you for your support of my book,
>"Suburban Sahibs: Three immigrant families and their
>passage from India to America." Initially published by
>Rutgers University Press, the book sold out of its
>first edition, is currently in a second printing and
>should be out in paperback next year. None of that
>would have been possible without community support and
>favorable press (including a New York Times book
>I'm writing to ask for your help now as the book
>launches in South Asia and Singapore, published by
>Penguin-India. If you are a journalist in those
>countries, please consider doing a review or story on
>the book. If you live there, please approach your
>local bookstores and ask for the title. If you have
>family or media contacts on the subcontinent, please
>do forward this e-mail to them.
>For review copies (journalists only), contact:
>hemali.sodhi at penguin-india.com.
>For interviews, feel free to contact me via e-mail at
>smkalita at yahoo.com or at 202-607-6836. If you need me
>to call you at an overseas number, please send me an
>e-mail and the best time to do so.
>Below, I've included the blurb from the Penguin
>edition, a bio and a just-published piece in the
>Economic Times (of India). More information is
>available at www.desiwriter.com.
>Thank you again for all your support.
>American-Born Confused Desi, Emigrated From Gujarat,
>Housed In Jersey, Keeping Lotsa Motels, Named
>Omkarnath Patel…
>Many Indians know that thousands of their compatriots
>live in New Jersey, USA, but the realities of these
>immigrants’ lives are often obscured by the image of
>the wealthy NRI. In this pioneering profile of one of
>America’s most dynamic ethnic communities, S. Mitra
>Kalita, an award-winning journalist at the Washington
>Post, enters the lives of three families – the
>Kotharis, Patels and Sarmas – and shows how varied the
>Indian experience can be in one US locality.
>Increasingly moving straight to the suburbs rather
>than ‘paying their dues’ in a city, New Jersey’s
>newest Indians soon face problems of transportation,
>affordable housing and, on occasion, resentful
>reactions to their growing success. The fates of those
>on professional visas are tied to the economy, but
>others have continual difficulty finding jobs; Harish
>Patel, a former banker, returns to Baroda several
>times in defeat, declaring the US an ‘awful, lonely,
>back-breaking place to live and work.’ Pradip Kothari,
>who owns a travel agency, gets so weary of Indians’
>lack of representation that he runs for political
>Yet while parents struggle, their children often
>excel, and they are all in good company: the largest
>celebration of Navratri outside India now takes place
>in Edison, New Jersey. ‘Whiz kids Sankumani and
>Shravani Sarma,’ says Kalita, ‘left a rapidly
>Americanizing India only to find a rapidly Indianizing
>America.’ Lucid and sympathetic, Housed in Jersey puts
>a human face on India’s massive diaspora.
>S. MITRA KALITA is an education reporter at The
>Washington Post and serves as president of the South
>Asian Journalists Association. She is the author of
>"Suburban Sahibs: Three immigrant families and their
>passage from India to America," published by Rutgers
>University Press (2003) and Penguin-India (2004). She
>has written extensively about immigration and the
>South Asian diaspora. She previously worked for
>Newsday in New York City as a business reporter,
>carving a beat out of immigration and the economy. In
>the aftermath of Sept. 11, she did extensive reporting
>on the backlash faced by Arabs and South Asians in the
>New York area, and authored a chapter in a book about
>the experience ("At Ground Zero: The Young Reporters
>Who Were There Tell Their Stories"). She has reported
>from Buffalo and Bombay, and many points in between.
>Mitra graduated from Rutgers University, Phi Beta
>Kappa, with a bachelor's in history and journalism.
>She received her master's degree from Columbia
>University Graduate School of Journalism. Mitra has
>received numerous awards for her work, is featured in
>the "Best Business Stories of 2003" and was most
>recently named Young Journalist of the Year by the New
>York State Associated Press Association. The daughter
>of immigrants from Assam, she was born in New York
>City and has lived in Long Island, New Jersey and
>Puerto Rico. She now lives in  Washington, D.C., with
>her husband, artist Nitin Mukul.
>Helping America understand Indian Immigrants
>MONDAY, MAY 31, 2004 01:14:31 AM
>S Mitra Kalita has helped the American public
>understand immigrants better through her writing The
>author of Suburban Sahibs-three immigrant families and
>their passage from India to America, S Mitra Kalita,
>is in many ways telling her own story and that of her
>family in the narrative non-fiction work.
>The difference is that a lot of second generation
>Indian immigrants have been writing about themselves,
>while Kalita focuses more on her parents’ generation.
>“When I started working on this book, a lot of the
>work coming from my generation was about us. While I
>applaud this, some of the works tended to dismiss the
>experience of people like my parents' - seemingly
>average experiences of working hard, saving money,
>buying houses, sending kids to college, wanting a
>better life for their kids than they had. In my book,
>I really tried to get inside the heads of immigrants,
>to understand their displacement, their desires, as
>well as those for their kids,” says Kalita who is a
>reporter at The Washington Post and serves as
>president of the South Asian Journalists Association
>She has written extensively about immigration and the
>South Asian diaspora even in her previous job with
>Newsday in New York City as a business reporter,
>carving a beat out of immigration and the economy.
>“I think my reportage and writing on South Asians
>stems mainly from two places: a desire to help a
>public better understand the subcontinent and its
>diverse diaspora, and a desire to better understand
>myself, my family and where we came from. You cannot
>understand the second generation without attempting to
>understand the first,’’ says Kalita who is a graduate
>from Rutgers University, Phi Beta Kappa, with a
>bachelor's in history and journalism.
>She received her master's degree from Columbia
>University Graduate School of Journalism and has
>received numerous awards for her work, is featured in
>the Best Business Stories of 2003 and was most
>recently named Young Journalist of the Year by the New
>York State Associated Press Association.
>And her specialisation on the South Asian ethnic
>community has been a fillip for her career in
>journalism. “My background and interest in immigration
>has only positively affected my career. I am lucky to
>have a lot of control over the types of stories I
>pitch and write, so I try not to do stories that I
>don’t see as legitimately newsworthy. A good story is
>a good story, regardless of the subjects' colour of
>the skin. I work for a very large U.S. newspaper - the
>Washington Post - and feel it is incumbent upon people
>like me to bring stories of different communities, not
>just the Indian community, to the mainstream. Then
>only can we start to redefine the mainstream to
>include people like us,’’ she says.
>Kalita looks at three different Indian families from
>different economic groups rather than from different
>regions of India. “I think I tried to look at trends
>among Indians immigrating to the United States as an
>aggregate group. Certainly, regional distrinctions can
>be drawn but I felt like there was much more to be
>said about the eras in which immigrants landed on US
>shores, the India they left behind and the America
>they encountered.
>The distinctions _ geographic, linguistic, religious
>-- can also be drawn among Indians in India. I felt
>the increasing economic diversity of Indian immigrants
>(not all are wealthy and living in mansions) is a
>story that warranted telling, for both our community
>and a readership at large,’’ she feels
>“The goal was not to try to include every single type
>of Indian immigrant in the United States. The goal was
>to tell dramatic stories of real people who represent
>different waves of immigration into the American
>suburb,’’ she says.
>Her book has been set in the backdrop of suburban NYC
>in New Jersey mainly because of the economic diversity
>among the Indian community in that region. “In some
>ways the West Coast might be more progressive.
>However, the communities there have burgeoned largely
>due to the hi-tech boom, and I did not see the same
>economic diversity that I witnessed in New Jersey. But
>perhaps it exists and I just missed the signs,’’ she
>As for being compared to Jhumpa Lahiri, she doesn’t
>mind. “I admire her work greatly. But remember, my
>work is all nonfiction, rooted in real people and real
>stories,’’ she says. But unlike Lahiri, who chose to
>be married to her American fiance in Kolkata, Kalita
>recently married Nitin Mukul, a second generation
>Indian immigrant and an artist, in a traditional Hindu
>ceremony in New Jersey.
>S. Mitra Kalita
>Order your copy of my book, "Suburban Sahibs," today! Details 
at www.desiwriter.com.
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