Cover for Bhalla: Reading Together, Reading Apart: Identity, Belonging, and South Asian American Community. Click for larger image
Ebook Information

Reading Together, Reading Apart

Identity, Belonging, and South Asian American Community

Discovering authenticity and identity in a book club

Often thought of as a solitary activity, the practice of reading can in fact encode the complex politics of community formation. Engagement with literary culture represents a particularly integral facet of identity formation--and expresses of a sense of belonging--within the South Asian diaspora in the United States.

Tamara Bhalla blends a case study with literary and textual analysis to illuminate this phenomenon. Her fascinating investigation considers institutions from literary reviews to the marketplace to social media and other technologies, as well as traditional forms of literary discussion like book clubs and academic criticism. Throughout, Bhalla questions how her subjects' circumstances, desires, and shared race and class, limit the values they ascribe to reading. She also examines how ideology circulating around a body of literature or a self-selected, imagined community of readers shapes reading itself and influences South Asians' powerful, if contradictory, relationship with ideals of cultural authenticity.

Insightful and provocative, Reading Together, Reading Apart builds on practical fieldwork coupled with theoretical precision to reveal the surprising complexity of reading as a social practice.

"Bhalla offers a multilayered, interdisciplinary treatment on the possibilities (and limitations) involved in both the act of reading and the formation of ethnic identities. This thoughtful and thought-provoking book deserves its own reading club."--Pawan Dhingra, author of Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream

"Bhalla's nuanced, sensitive analysis illuminates how nonacademic readers grapple with issues of authenticity, class, and gender as they engage with transnational South Asian literature. This rigorously-researched book significantly enhances discussions of the consumption and marketing of ethnic literatures and identities."--Megan Sweeney, editor of The Story Within Us: Women Prisoners Reflect on Reading

Tamara Bhalla is an assistant professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

To order online:

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Chinese Face/Off

The Transnational Popular Culture of Hong Kong

Kwai-Cheung Lo


Narratives of Disenchantment and the Model Minority

Eleanor Ty

Indian Accents

Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film

Shilpa S. Davé

Undercover Asian

Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture

Leilani Nishime


Anti-Chinese Racism in Mexico, 1880-1940

Jason Oliver Chang

Islanders in the Empire

Filipino and Puerto Rican Laborers in Hawai‘i

JoAnna Poblete

Chinese in the Woods

Logging and Lumbering in the American West

Sue Fawn Chung

Legitimizing Empire

Filipino American and U.S. Puerto Rican Cultural Critique

Faye Caronan

Building Filipino Hawai‘i

Roderick N. Labrador

The Minor Intimacies of Race

Asian Publics in North America

Christine Kim

In Pursuit of Gold

Chinese American Miners and Merchants in the American West

Sue Fawn Chung

Reading Together, Reading Apart ebook is available for immediate download from the following vendors:
Google Play