Inside the Book: Not Quite Not White by Sharmila Sen

By Kayleigh Voss | January 16 2020 | Community & School Reads Adults: Memoir & Biography First-Year Reading: Memoir & Biography

Author Sharmila Sen discusses the process of assimilation and the significance of race in America.

 

About Not Quite Not White:

Winner of the ALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Nonfiction

At the age of 12, Sharmila Sen emigrated from India to the U.S. The year was 1982, and everywhere she turned, she was asked to self-report her race—on INS forms, at the doctor’s office, in middle school. Never identifying with a race in the India of her childhood, she rejects her new “not quite” designation—not quite white, not quite black, not quite Asian—and spends much of her life attempting to blend into American whiteness. But after her teen years trying to assimilate—watching shows like General Hospital and The Jeffersons, dancing to Duran Duran and Prince, and perfecting the art of Jell-O no-bake desserts—she is forced to reckon with the hard questions: What does it mean to be white, why does whiteness retain the magic cloak of invisibility while other colors are made hypervisible, and how much does whiteness figure into Americanness?

Part memoir, part manifesto, Not Quite Not White is a searing appraisal of race and a path forward for the next not quite not white generation—a witty and sharply honest story of discovering that not-whiteness can be the very thing that makes us American.

Losing and Finding Race in America
978-0-14-313138-0
Biography & Autobiography - Personal Memoirs
Biography & Autobiography - Cultural, Ethnic & Regional - General
Social Science - Discrimination & Race Relations
“In this intimate, passionate look at race in America, Sen considers the price paid by nonwhite immigrants who try to become white, while always wearing a smiling face. Her provocative solution is for people like us to defiantly embrace not being white. That feels just right to me.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer
$16.00 US | $22.00 CAN
Aug 28, 2018
5-1/16 x 7-3/4
Paperback
224 Pages
Penguin Books
World