Four Books About the Immigrant Experience in America
I love grouping books based thematic similarities. For this list, I pulled together four books that all deal with immigrant experiences in America. I am so interested in outsider perspectives on America because it always makes me see my cultural tendencies (often ones I don't know I have) in a new light. Though most of these are fiction, their stories still offer valuable insights.
1. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.
This is one of my favorite novels of all time. Lahiri powerfully tells the story of Indian immigrants who move to the U.S. The story eventually shifts to their son, whose conflict with his name is kind of an allegory for how he feels as a first-generation American.
2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Perhaps my favorite part about Americanah is that it deals with both American race issues and immigrant issues. I am fascinated by both and loved how this amazing novel about a Nigerian woman moving to America blended the two issues. The issues she faces as a non-American black woman really made me think. Just as a warning, there is a pretty graphic scene in here that I actually skipped over (I got what happened from context).
3. Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
Dumas and her family immigrated to the U.S. from Iran when she was a child, and her perspective feels so unique. She tells a vibrant story about how she felt moving to America from a place that most Americans viewed negatively. I especially loved learning about the Persian culture from the glimpses she shares in her book- their celebrations of spring and their ideas of family really stuck out to me.
4. Brooklyn by Colm Tobin
Brooklyn tells the story of an Irish girl who comes to America in the years following World War II. It has a little bit of everything: work drama, love drama, family drama, plus all the intricacies that go along with moving alone to a new country. I loved the way this book described Eilis's personal transformation to a confident woman and was absolutely torn by the very real dilemma the book presents.
Do you have any immigrant related books to add to this list? I'm always interested to read more.