Cover Image

Larger ImageView Larger


How May I Help You?

An Immigrant's Journey from MBA to Minimum Wage

Deepak Singh (Author)

Other Formats Available:
In this moving and insightful work, Deepak Singh chronicles his downward mobility as an immigrant to a small town in Virginia. Armed with an MBA from India, Singh can get only a minimum-wage job in an electronics store. Every day he confronts unfamiliar American mores, from strange idioms to deeply entrenched racism.
Telling stories through the unique lens of an initially credulous outsider who is “fresh off the plane,” Singh learns about the struggles of his colleagues: Ron, a middle-aged African-American man trying to keep his life intact despite health concerns; Jackie, a young African-American woman diligently attending school after work; and Cindy, whose matter-of-fact attitude helps Deepak adapt to his job and his new life.
How May I Help You? is an incisive take on life in the United States and a reminder that the stories of low-wage employees can bring candor and humanity to debates about work, race, and immigration.
Deepak Singh is a writer, radio producer, and journalist. He is a frequent contributor to PRI’s The World and has written for The New York Times, NPR, The Boston Globe and The Atlantic.

"An interesting look at a puzzling society—ours—from the point of view of a sympathetic but not uncritical outsider."

Kirkus Reviews
"With careful candor and clarity, [Deepak Singh] shows the challenges facing new immigrants and the effort it takes to surmount them."—Booklist
"In the end, Singh doesn't achieve the gleaming vision of material success that he had dreamt of back in Lucknow, but the enlightened realism he grows into is priceless: he comes to understand that America's greatness doesn't come from its consumer culture's pleasures or the promises of quick riches; it's a bittersweet blend of sweet and sharp notes drawn from the hard work of learning to coexist with people who think, look, and live differently. His original dream might have short circuited, but the connections he develops over time as a storyteller, a community member, and a worker turn out to be strangely empowering, even if some assembly is required."—CultureStrike
"Deepak Singh shares his incredible stories of learning, feeling, beauty, work, friendship, and marriage. It is at once deeply personal and specific, while also resonating with fellow humans’ similar struggles across the globe."—Dr. Susan D. Blum, author of Lies That Bind: Chinese Truth, Other Truths

"I devoured Deepak Singh's memoir at home, at work, on the subway and on the streets of New York. It's funny, eye-opening, and deeply human in its regard for working-class Americans and for all people who struggle to make ends meet. If Barbara Ehrenreich had been born in India, Nickel and Dimed might've looked a lot like this." —Arun Venugopal, WNYC

"Deepak Singh reanimates the fears, joys, bafflements, and general vertigo of those first few months after immigrating to the United States. With humor and pathos in equal measure, Singh shows us how difficult it is to work at the most insecure levels of American society." —Siva Vaidhyanathan, University of Virginia

Join UC Press

Members receive 20-40% discounts on book purchases. Find out more