Immigrants

flagEverything I Never Told You / Celeste Ng

A story of the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family explores the fallout of the drowning death of Lydia Lee, the favorite daughter of a Chinese-American family in 1970s Ohio.

Americanah / Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected.

Shanghai Girls: a novel / Lisa See

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives…until after the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.

The Namesake / Jhumpa Lahiri

A portrait of the immigrant experience follows the Ganguli family from their traditional life in India through their arrival in Massachusetts in the late 1960s and their difficult melding into an American way of life.

The Joy Luck Club / Amy Tan

After being drawn together by the shadows of their past, four women start meeting every week in San Francisco to engage in hobbies they all enjoy. After one of the four members dies, her daughter takes her place to fulfill her mother’s dying wish. After the revelation of a secret, the women are forced to think back to their pasts and remember the sometimes painful events of their lives.

The Leavers: a novel / Lisa Ko

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. Set in New York and China, the Leavers is the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

The Boston Girl: a novel / Anita Diamant

Recounting the story of her life to her granddaughter, octogenarian Addie describes how she was raised in early-twentieth-century America by Jewish immigrant parents in a teeming multicultural neighborhood.

And the Mountains Echoed / Khaled Hosseini

A father recounts a folktale to his two young children. The tale is about a young boy who is taken by a div (a sort of ogre), and how that fate might not be as terrible as it first seems—a brilliant device that firmly sets the tone for the rest of this sweeping, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting novel. A day after he tells the tale of the div, the father gives away his own daughter to a wealthy man in Kabul. What follows is a series of stories within the story, told through multiple viewpoints, spanning more than half a century, and shifting across continents. The novel moves through war, separation, birth, death, deceit, and love, illustrating again and again how people’s actions, even the seemingly selfless ones, are shrouded in ambiguity.

Saints for all Occasions / J. Courtney Sullivan

A sweeping novel about two sisters–one the matriarch of a boisterous Irish Catholic family, the other a cloistered nun, hidden from the world–and the secret that drove them apart.

We are Called to Rise: [a novel] / Laura McBride

An immigrant youth struggling to assimilate, a middle-aged housewife with a troubled marriage, a Vegas social worker, and a wounded soldier connect with each other and rescue themselves in the wake of an unthinkable incident.

The Burgess Boys: a novel / Elizabeth Strout

Catalyzed by a nephew’s thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confront painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys, a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.

Brooklyn: a novel / Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín’s sixth novel, Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s, when one young woman, Eilis Lacey, crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself.

The Lowland: a novel / Jhumpa Lahiri

Born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan are inseparable brothers. They are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead. It is the 1960s, and Udayan — charismatic and impulsive — finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequality and poverty; he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother’s political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America. But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family’s home, he goes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family.

Behold the Dreamers: a novel / Imbolo Mbue

In the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Their situation only improves when Jende’s wife Neni is hired as household help. But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Then, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, a tragedy changes all four lives forever, and the Jongas must decide whether to continue fighting to stay in a recession-ravaged America or give up and return home to Cameroon.

The Book of Unknown Americans: [a novel] / Cristina Henríquez

A boy and a girl fall in love. The two families’ hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.

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