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Review of BLUE JASMINE by Kashmira Sheth

by Julie Brinker

Sheth, Kashmira. 2004. BLUE JASMINE. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786818557

While the descriptions of Iowa City, the Trivedi's new home in this stranger-in-a-strange-land novel, are generic, the descriptions of their family home in Vishanagar, India are beautifully detailed. The dialogue, even when Sheth isn't trying to reproduce less than fluent English, is stilted, but the view of America through foreign eyes is stunning: "America was everything I’d heard it would be, and yet nothing could have prepared me for America. What struck me the most was that everything was big. Not only were the roads four lanes wide, but the gas pumps had eight stations. The city was dressed like an elegant lady, and the buildings seemed to have conversations with clouds. Stores were so large that they were never crowded. I remembered Vishanagar's bazaar, where people brushed against my shoulder as they walked past me. Here, there was space and no people to fill it. Where were they all?"

The situations, based on the author's own immigrant experiences, are absolutely believable, and range from heart-breaking to joyous. The BOOKLIST review of August 1, 2004, concludes, "Filled with details that document an immigrant's observations and experiences, Seema's story, which articulates the ache for distant home and family, will resonate with fellow immigrants and enlighten their classmates."

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