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Mukherjee's work:

Jasmine is based on one such strong woman: Jasmine is born in a small village in India and emigrates to the United States as a very young widow, to fulfil her late husband's wishes. When she first arrives in America as an illegal immigrant, the man who has brought her and others into the country, "Half-Face", attacks and rapes her. She then takes her revenge...

I felt the metal touch his throat

Mukherjee says that she did not start out intending to write such a violent passage: what happens when she writes is that the characters take over and create their own stories...

"I didn't know I was going to write it until I started that paragraph. Very often I don't know what my character is going to do, I have a vague sense when I start out with the first draft, and then when the writing is really going well I become so dead to the real world around me and so alive, alert to my characters' tissue, I'm so deeply inside the skin of my character, that the scenes write themselves. I didn't know until I wrote the scene that Jasmine was going to do it. "
Bharati Mukherjee

Jasmine takes on new names and identities as she travels through America and transforms herself. Born Jyoti in India, her loving husband named her Jasmine. She becomes Jazzy or Jase while working as a care-giver in New York, Jane when living with a man in Iowa in the Mid-West and finally Jasmine. As an immigrant she feels she has to try out new identities. For Mukherjee this change of personality is associated with the death of ones former self. Mukherjee also believes that the violence in her novels is linked to the fact of the diaspora, the breaking up and scattering of a people who migrate to other countries :

"Violence is very connected with Diaspora and the transplanting from one's original culture into a new country, no matter for what reason we've come to the new country, implies or necessitates death of ones former self or mutilation of ones former self and so I want to think that the physical violence in my novels are really my metaphorical or artistic way of showing the psychic damage that takes place.."
Bharati Mukherjee

Both Mukherjee herself and Jasmine, her creation, take on new identities as immigrants in a new country. Mukherjee describes the existence of these immigrants in transit from their former lives. Those who are travelling illegally take a zig zag route in their efforts to avoid detection….

We are the outcasts and deportees

In Jasmine, Mukherjee powerfully imagines the situation of "illegals", immigrants who finds their way into a country with no legal papers.

publication details

The Tiger's Daughter (1972), Ballantine Books
Wife (1975), Houghton Miffin Company
Jasmine (1990), Virago

life events
key influences and themes
Mukherjee's work
the next chapter
being a woman writer
  Women Writers
  Ama Ata Aidoo
  Meena Alexander
  Maya Angelou
  Shashi Deshpande
  Margaret Drabble
  Buchi Emecheta
  Jamaica Kincaid
  Doris Lessing
  Michele Roberts
  Helen Simpson

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