There may come a time when Asian-American writing loses its hyphen and becomes “American”. Ranbir Singh Sidhu’s debut novel Deep Singh Blue provides some indication that this point may be approaching.
Deep Singh Blue is a coming-of-age novel, a deliberate bildungsroman, that just happens to be set in a Sikh immigrant family in California in the 1980s. Deep, the protagonist, is an entirely American teenager with a dysfunctional lower middle-class family. His father uproots the family every few years and drags them from one non-descript town to another. He thinks college a waste of time. The mother agreed to an arranged marriage on promises of American being a land of milk and honey that it turned out not to be. Deep’s elder brother, the parents’ avowed favorite, suffers from what seems be increasingly severe schizophrenia. Each family member treats Deep—and each other—with varying degrees of disdain and contempt.
Deep escapes, first to a local college, and thence into a relationship with a deeply-troubled married young woman in her late twenties. Deep’s is a family and community whom the American Dream has passed by, leaving the detritus of casual and not-so-casual racism, violence and drinking in its wake. Read more