The present paper is an attempt to assess the strengths and weaknesses of American multiculturalism and, more specifically, the assumptions underlying the multicultural literary canon. Required to represent specific ethnic/racial groups, minority fiction shares some of the flaws of traditional ethnography, and while it gives individual authors a chance to achieve recognition, it does little to improve the lives of the minority communities. Yet we have no better tools than literature for what Richard Rorty calls “expanding the ‘we’” and what Judith Butler calls recognition of others as living beings whose lives, like our own lives, are precious and worth protecting. Such recognition is not something that can be institutionally ordained, but perhaps it can be inculcated through reading.
 Richard Rorty, “Human Rights, Rationality, and Sentimentality” in Shute, S. and Hurley, S. (eds.), On Human Rights: The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 1993,New York, HarperCollins, 1993.