The Middleman and Other Stories
These beautifully wrought stories reveal a new world that has been created imperceptibly in our midst: a United States transformed by many new faces from Afghanistan and Asia, from Uganda and Latin America. These immigrants have in turn been transformed by the “idea” of living in America. Passionate, comic, violent, and ultimately tender, these stories portray our latest arrivals in all their richness and variety, reflected in American eyes equally varied with fear, love, suspicion, or pure astonishment.
Told by fictional immigrants, the tales of arrival and survival spun by Mukherjee’s protagonists often paralyze the reader with their realism. They come from Italy, Trinidad, Israel, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Philippines and elsewhere to build new lives in such places as Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Manhattan and Miami. For all the troubles the immigrants endure, Mukherjee’s portrayal of them as dauntless participants in the American experiment serves to empower them. Even as she’s being raped by her employer, Jasmine, a housekeeper from Trinidad, ponders that she has “no nothing other than what she wanted to invent and tell.” The Middleman won the 1988 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.