This book grows out of the question, "What is South Asian American writing and what insights can it offer us about living in the world at this particular moment of tense geopolitics and inter-linked economies?" South Asian American literature, with its focus on the multiple geographies and histories of the global dispersal of South Asians, pulls back from a close-up view of the United States to reveal a wider landscape of many nations and peoples. Drawing on the cosmopolitan sensibility of scholars like Anthony Appiah, Vinay Dharwadker, Martha Nussbaum, Bruce Robbins, and Amartya Sen, this book argues that to read the body of South Asian American literature justly, one must engage with the urgencies of places as diverse as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Pakistan, and Trinidad. Poets, novelists, and playwrights like Indran Amirthanayagam, Meena Alexander, Amitav Ghosh, Michael Ondaatje, Shani Mootoo, Amitava Kumar, Tahira Naqvi, and Sharbari Ahmed exhort North American residents to envision connectedness with inhabitants of other lands.
These writers' significant contribution to American literature and to the American imagination is to depict the nation as simultaneously discrete and entwined within the fold of other nations. The world out there arrives next door. Author note: Rajini Srikanth is Associate Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is the coeditor (with Sunaina Maira) of Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America and (with Lavina Dhingra Shankar) of A Part Yet Apart: South Asians in Asian America.