Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Middleman and Other Stories” as Want to Read:
The Middleman and Other Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Middleman and Other Stories

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  525 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Bharati Mukherjee's work illuminates a new world of people in migration that has transformed the meaning of "America." Now in a Grove paperback edition, The Middleman and Other Stories is a dazzling display of the vision of this important modern writer. An aristocratic Filipina negotiates a new life for herself with an Atlanta investment banker. A Vietnam vet returns to Fl ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published 1999 by Grove (first published 1989)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Middleman and Other Stories, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Middleman and Other Stories

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  525 ratings  ·  51 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Mukherjee isn't one of those self-congratulatory assholes who thinks she's bucking political correctness (whatever the fuck that means) by hating on Indians (and everybody else), but a real thinker who wants immigrant, encounter, and postcolonial lit to exist beyond the binaries of white/nonwhite, good/evil, and, especially, nice/not-nice. Her characters are NOT NICE. For any writer to do that, with immigrant characters or not, while still keeping alive some sense of human dignity and struggle a ...more
Moses Kilolo
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Something about this book isn't quite clicking with me. Maybe the premise, not that I don't enjoy stories about the immigrant experience, but this book at this time just isn't working for me.

I know I never abandon books. If I do I delete them from my lists and try not to think of them. But for this one, I feel I should just go back to it some other time. Maybe then I will be able to see what I can't see now.

The first few stories I read didn't quite stand out except for A Wife's Story which I f
Thing Two
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This collection, from the mid-80s pulls together a dozen stories of people in the middle. All are caught in some type of struggle -- from a grieving widow struggling to move on to a man being sucked into a drug deal -- the voices vary, but the stories are well done.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-story

I found almost every character insufferable. And don’t get me wrong, insufferable characters can be great characters. But these were irredeemably insufferable characters, and often it felt like Mukherjee wasn’t even critiquing their horrible qualities. Ex. a lot of the male characters were low key (or sometimes high key) misogynistic, and nothing was said for or against it; they just were (and that in itself can be a valuable thing to write about, but I just don’t think Mukherjee pulled it
Fred Daly
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mukherjee's world is a brutal place, so few of these stories would be appropriate for my students. I like the way she immerses you in a situation and makes you figure out what's going on. "Jasmine" is a particular favorite of mine.
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
After reading The Middleman and Other Stories twice, I have decided that I wouldn't want to be a character in a Bharati Mukherjee story.

Alfie, an Iraqi Jew who ends up in El Salvador by way of Queens, lusts after Maria in the title story. Maria was once with President Gutierrez but is now married to a wealthy rancher and businessman. Her current sexual allegiances lie with a revolutionary. Will Al get the girl?

Well, Al gets the girl, for one night. Then he watches as she murders her husband and
Aug 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: south-asia
A good example of boilerplate MFA writing. Starts in medias res, continues in the first person with a mix of fragments, rhetorical questions, blunt descriptors ("the fat man"), voice-driven small talk, and supposedly telling but rather trivial details ("Charity bought a used blue Datsun ('Nissan,' Phil insists)"). The characters are mostly unlikeable, and for all the fuss about how "brave" writers must be to use that perspective, the Unlikeable Character has probably been the most typical charac ...more
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
A jarring and beautifully poignant collection of short stories about immigrants, their tragedies and triumphs in leaving and arriving, The Middleman present a touching variety of voices and perspectives.
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indian-authors
Fantastic story-telling about complex, believable people. Guaranteed: you've run into each of her protagonists and other characters.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bhurati writes with such richness. Her characters are all deeply flawed and or troubled. She is skilled. She is outlandish in her imagination. I love her complexity in describing life.
Kathy Piselli
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mukherjee died recently and I hadn't read her yet, so I started with this story collection. Great writing, the kind you can't tell the author struggled over, it just blows along airily, easy as pie. I live in Atlanta, so I liked this description of our rain: "the raindrops are of the big, splashy variety, complete with whiffs of wild winds and churned seas". I've often noticed that though we are 250 miles from the ocean, it's not unusual to smell ocean in the rain here. Together with the unaffec ...more
RD Chiriboga Moncayo
Fine stories of immigrants and how they adapt or fail to do so in their new homes.
Susan Strickland
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cheeverian
This collection stands for everything good about the short story form - the microscopic view of an individual's transformation (or stasis) in a crystallized moment in a gritty, Cheeverian* world. I definitely will read more by Bharati Mukherjee.

The common thread is immigration, from different parts of the world, to different parts of the world (but largely to the USA and Canada). Mukherjee takes us through initial journey, homesickness and culture shock, youth, aging, fitting in, earning a livi
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-fiction
Most of the characters in Bharati
Mukherjee's The Middleman and
Other Stories are displaced,
foreign born people living in
America. They feel odd, out of
touch with the world in which
they live, yet out of touch with
the world from which they came.
I can easily see why Mukherjee
won the National Book Critics
Circle Award for these stories.
Highly recommended.

Gabriel C.
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I knew there had to be a reason she liked the creepy stuff I workshopped in her undergrad writing class, and I guess I now know the answer. Sex and sexuality oozes out of every single one of these stories, not peripherally, but totally centrally. Fucking is the major point of most of these stories and it's almost the major point of all but one. I know I read a novel or collection of hers years ago, at the time, but it wasn't this one because my world would have been turned upside down. She's sha ...more
David Smith
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
America is a nation of immigrants. It's easy to forget that the immigrants of a century ago were just as marginalized and, by definition, foreign as the immigrants of today. These stories are primarily about Indians, Arabs, East Indians, and the Americans they relate to. This book gave me a real appreciation for the humanity of an educated man from Afghanistan trying to make it in New York, or an Indian family trying to run a motel in Florida. Bharati's language is beautiful and spare. Her scena ...more
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
This is supposed to be the lighter of two collections about immigrants by the author. Most of the stories were pretty sordid and not reflective of the immigrants I work with every week. I did like two stories: "Orbiting" about a family dinner on Thanksgiving and the last story called "The Manaagement of Grief."
Tessara Dudley
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Though interesting and well-written, the author's project — to present an image of the "worthy" immigrant, wealthy and educated — is a classist one. Additionally, by wholeheartedly investing in the classist, racist, settler-colonial US American hegemonic project, the book ultimately fails to challenge the structures that uphold the very stereotypes the author seeks to do away with.
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2011
The only two stories that stood out to me were "A Wife's Story" and "The Management of Grief," the latter of which might be one of my favorite stories of all time. The rest is rather middle-of-the-road, with beautiful turns of phrases here and everywhere, but characters with too many loose ends to really feel anything other than indifference for.
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A lot of these stories are really interesting from the perspective of post-colonial studies. As an immigrant myself I found it really interesting to see how Mukherjee explored the different aspects of that experience, and with a sense of humor too. I particularly recommend 'Orbiting'.
Wendy Yu
Jun 18, 2012 rated it liked it
As an immigrant, some or all of the struggles and complications in these stories are some of my worst nightmares and memories. Selfishly, I wish more of the stories were grounded more in my own reality, and not, say, the one of an arms dealer in Africa.

Book dish: chop suey
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
She gets better and better the more I read. The characters may be from a land unfamiliar; their emotions are not. I have ordered her novel "Jasmine", from one of the short stories in this collection. I cannot wait to read it. Highly recommended.
Gretchen Paris
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I should never read a book of short stories on my Kindle because I tend to want to read them out of order. It took awhile but I finally got the idea and yes ,liked the book. A bit of turbulence did not help!
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've given all of Mukherjee's books 5 stars, and this one's the best! Such a diversity of voices, plots, and literary techniques all crammed into a pretty small space. I almost wish that I heard this range of voice in her other work also!
Meghna Pant
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Unforgiving, scintillating, though the first few stories didn't hold a draw.

"No folly is ever lost. She pictures history as a net, the kind of safety net travelling trapeze artists of her childhood fell into when they were inattentive, or clumsy."
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This collection is unsettling, the disturbing experiences of people torn away from culture. My favorite story is "Orbiting;" the clashes at a Thanksgiving dinner where everyone, in a sense, comes from their own "culture of pain." Won the National Book Circle Critics Award in 1988.
Sep 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Several short stories about modern immigrants. Thought provoking, affecting.
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
An excellent collection--varied, engaging, sometimes heartbreaking. Mukherjee deftly writes about family bonds; sometimes she describes pieces of your life within her's uncanny!
May 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
read 'the management of grief'
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it
we read 6 of the stories in class and the others I read by myself. I liked most of the stories, but Mukherjee has a very individual style.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mrs. Ted Bliss
  • Women in Their Beds: New and Selected Stories
  • October Light
  • The Year of the French
  • Aerogrammes: and Other Stories
  • Kate Vaiden
  • The Ends Of The Earth
  • Cooked Up: An Anthology of Stories about Food
  • The Word Book
  • The Dragon: Fifteen Stories
  • Selected Stories
  • On the Golden Porch
  • Tiny Deaths
  • Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories
  • The Transit of Venus
  • Being Dead
  • The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson
  • The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories
See similar books…
Bharati Mukherjee was an Indian-born award winning American writer who explored the internal culture clashes of her immigrant characters in the award-winning collection The Middleman and Other Stories and in novels like Jasmine and Desirable Daughters.

Ms. Mukherjee, a native of Calcutta, attended schools in England, Switzerland and India, earned advanced degrees in creative writing in the United S