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Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream Paperback – April 25, 2012
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"A strength of this book is its focus on the Indian state of Gujarat, the home of the Patels, because most research on immigrants ignores regional differences. . . Recommended."J. Hein, CHOICE
"Pawan Dhingra has written a pioneering book on the world of American motels and hotels. Close attention to the stories told by the people who work in the trade allows Dhingra to go behind the stereotypes, and give us a tale of human beings struggling to make livings and lives. This is a people's sociology of hotel work."Vijay Prashad, Trinity College
"Life Behind the Lobby assesses a central debate about U.S. migration: should the achievements of self-employed migrants be regarded as evidence of the openness, tolerance, and meritocracy of an increasingly neoliberal American society, or should their sacrifices, confrontations with racism, and feelings of social marginalization be taken as proof of the enduring place of discrimination, inequality, and white privilege? Pawan Dhingra's sophisticated and highly original analysis does much to advance our understanding of international migration, ethnic entrepreneurship, and migrants' ability to work collectively to cope with, if not fully overcome, the circumstances they face."Steven J. Gold, Michigan State University, author of The Store in the Hood: A Century of Business and Conflict (2010)
Read interviews with the author at:
NPR's All Things Considered
Wall Street Journal's India Real Time blog
Voice of America
Chronicle of Higher Education
The Times of India
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This is just one of those books that needed to be written- half of the motels in the United States are owned by a single minority group. It is somewhat similar to the Korean-American owners of bodegas or Chinese-American laundromats in NYC. This book answers how a single minority group (Gujratis within a minority group of South Asians) come to exert such industry dominance for an entire country.
The book is slightly scholarly at times- but perhaps I've just gotten too used to glib Malcolm Gladwell-esque pithy observations. But the amount of research and the quality of writing is very clear- and it's well worth the time to anyone interested in American exceptionalism, entrepreneurship and American success stories.
The book is dense, nuanced, and deeply researched. It is written at a college level and contains extensive references. It is not light summer beach reading.
I'll never look at a motel the same way again. I highly recommend this book. It's a compelling story about immigration and the American dream.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really very enjoyable read. I read it for class but had never even heard of the "Patel Motel" stereotype (which shows how much I know about non-Hispanic immigrants in the... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Patty Fernandez
This book nails it. the patel community specifically lives behind the lobby like animals in those dirty nasty motels. THey are an embarrassment to the Indian society in the US. Read morePublished 20 months ago by 32434
I was always a little curious about why so many Indian American motels and this book, written by a professor at my old alma mata, Oberlin College, explains it in detail.Published on April 11, 2013 by At Bay