Transcultural Women of Late Twentieth-century U.S. American Literature: First-generation Migrants from Islands and Peninsulas
Pauline T. Newton's ambitious study, which includes interviews with six migrant writers, recognizes intersections between restrictive and limiting literary divisions in Caribbean, Asian-American, and ethnic-American narratives, and explores issues of migration and the crossing and (re-)crossing of cultural boundaries. U.S.-American-bound migrant writers, including Judith Ortiz Cofer, Julia Alvarez, Jamaica Kincaid, Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Lan Cao, left their homelands between the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s, examining and expressing their migration experiences-namely, the evolution of their transcultural identities as they make the transition from their island or peninsular homelands to the United States-in diverse literary forms, such as the memoir, the personal narrative, and the novel or other fictional forms. Changes in U.S.-American immigration laws in the mid-1960s and socio-political disruptions on migrants' homelands precipitated these writers' migrations, thereby propelling the development of refracted identities. The construction of these constantly shifting and adapting identities demonstrates the struggles of non-European, non-Anglo female migrants of recent times to represent themselves as members of their island and peninsular homelands and of the U.S.-American mainland. Newton shows that, for these writers and for the characters in their fiction, adapting to life in the United States proves much more complicated than simply disengaging from one homeland or culture and blending into another. As they migrate and adapt, these migrants experience ""islandness,"" which can signify not just isolation, but also unity. The book concludes with interviews with six migrant writers-Ortiz Cofer, Geok-lin Lim, Cao, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Le Ly Hayslip and Frances Esquibel Tywoniak-that provide additional texts for discussion and offer fresh perspectives on the analytical framework of Newton's study.