Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Immigrant Novels

One of my absolute favorite things about reading is that it takes you to a new world.  This is not news to anyone who cracks open a novel with even a little anticipation, but it's always pure magic.  I can lead many lives all at once: imagining being a train with a murderer, sitting in a tiny dingy school in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, or traveling all over the world on an epic birthday trip.  

Lately, I've been enjoying books that expose me to the immigrant experience.  I am not an immigrant but am the descendant of immigrants and the wife of an immigrant.  It's not something I have first-hand knowledge about but because so many people I love have lived through an immigration, I want to understand it better: enter books.  

Stories that detail what it's like to move to a new country, where you may or may not be welcome, make the reader more empathetic.  It happens subtly and without guilt.  Reading about the first trip to a grocery store where you don't understand the packaging and process or how a kid who gets bullied and still manages to find friends gives my imagination the spark it needs to really consider what it's like to be on the outside of a culture.  Using my brain like this is good.

Just because these books are important, doesn't mean that they can't also be captivating and well written.  There is something about traveling to a foreign land, whether it's America, the moon, or exploring the New World that is just appealing to the human sense of adventure.  There is a desire to know what is in the world outside of us.  At least there is in me.  

If an author can tell a story of immigration that makes the unknown seem adventurous, then I am all in.  My least favorite kinds of immigrant stories are the ones that overtly tell you "this was difficult" and don't convey the little details that are so challenging. 

feelings are v. important 

Here are some of my favorite immigrant stories:
Exit West (of course)

Here are some that I want to read:
Americanah (I know, I know, I should have read this by now)

Have you read a novel that highlights the immigrant experience?  Can you add to my list?  Please?

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