Chapter 4: Assimilation and Appropriation: Contest and Collaboration in Global Suburbia
As vividly illustrated by Richard Nixon’s 1959 “Kitchen Debate” with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the suburb has become the physical manifestation of the American Dream and a demonstration of exceptionalism for the rest of the world. Some immigrants and ethnic groups traditionally excluded from the American community see suburbia as a means to achieving their American Dream. This chapter traces this dynamic in American / Pastoral by Philip Roth, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, and Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen. By rejecting the notion of a monolithic American character, these stories reaffirm the potential for ethics in suburbia, positioning it as a space for not only cosmopolitan contact, but also the conflicts and interrupts essential to subjectivity.