Books For You: Not Quite Not White | Sharmila Sen

Editor | Non-Fiction

At the age of twelve, Sharmila Sen moved from India to the US. The year was 1982, and everywhere she turned, she was asked to self-report her race. Rejecting her new “not quite” designation—not quite white, not quite black, not quite Asian—she spent much of her life attempting to blend into American whiteness. But after her teen years watching shows like The Jeffersons, dancing to Duran Duran, and perfecting the art of Jell-O no-bake desserts, she was forced to reckon with the hard questions: why does whiteness retain its 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 (Published by Penguin Random House, Price Rs 599) is a witty and poignant story of discovering that not-whiteness can be the very thing that makes one American.

About The Author:

Sharmila Sen grew up in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, and immigrated to the United States when she was twelve. She was educated in the public schools of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and received her BA from Harvard and her PhD from Yale in English literature. As an assistant professor at Harvard she taught courses on literatures from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean for seven years. Currently, she is the executive editor-at-large at Harvard University Press. Sen has lived and worked in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. She has lectured around the world on postcolonial literature and culture and published essays on racism and immigration. She lives in Cambridge with her architect husband and their three children.

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