NOT NATIVE: Short Stories of Immigrant Life in an In-Between World
The stories in this debut collection explore experiences of first generation Indian immigrants in the U.S. Kamma’s characters deal with conflict, growth, dislocation, and renewal in a new world. Their old world is also present, and this "in-betweenness" shapes their lives. Once immigration involved leaving all behind, assuming a new identity with your new culture. Now we move back and forth—between continents, cities, our different mores no longer tidily compartmentalized, sometimes more migrant than immigrant. Generational splits in families mirror and amplify the gulf between new and old. A father steps off a train at a station and disappears for a son’s entire childhood; an emigrant son returning for a visit easily falls in with his father’s delusion that he is a servant. A couple safely ensconced in their new American life face the costs of their choices when those they left behind come to visit. Divisions within a nation, whether of caste or class, can be more striking than differences between countries. Returning to India, characters revisit choices they or their parents made with radically different sensibilities and assumptions now in play. What seemed shocking, inevitable, or impossible then, may feel inconsequential, arbitrary, or heroic now. Like his characters, the author is an acute observer—and diffident interpreter—of a much larger world that will never feel fully familiar again.
Most of us in this country came originally from different places—geographically, socially, and spiritually. While bodies can be easily transported, it takes longer for uprooted spirits to engage the new territory. . . . Murali Kamma engages the past and present dimensions of that struggle, illuminating, along the way, what it means to be Indian, American, and truly human. Roderick Clark, Editor/Publisher, Rosebud magazine
From the first paragraph, the very first sentence, Murali Kamma had me engrossed and engaged in the narrative, and my interest did not diminish until I got to end of the book, twenty stories in all, to its very last sentence. Waqas Khwaja, Ellen Douglass Leyburn Professor of English, Agnes Scott College, author ofHoldYour Breath and No One Waits for the Train
In this exciting and moving debut collection, Murali Kamma explores the immigrant condition with compassion and candor. Readers, no matter what their background, will relate to these characters who are part Indian, part American, and wholly human. Chitran Banerjee Divakaruni, author of Before We Visit the Goddess and The Forest of Enchantments
A collection of powerful stories that opens up a larger world for the reader. The haunting quality and the emotional punch they deliver linger in the mind. This is a writer to watch. Bharti Kirchner, author of Darjeeling, Goddess of Fire, and Season of Sacrifice