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December CultureCAT: Cultural Flow and Immigration

2017 Category Challenge

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Nov 10, 12:20pm Top

To start, I will say that my recommendations and suggestions are heavily US-biased, so apologies in advance. I hope others will contribute recommendations for books about immigration and migration to other countries.

Stories of immigration and migration show us both the best and the worst of the world - whether it’s the family choosing to start a new life elsewhere and finding happiness and success (however they might define it) or the young person forced to flee his homeland due to natural disaster or conflict. They are stories of what could be and what is, aspirational, inspirational, and cautionary. They show us the range of human emotion and experience, give us glimpses into other cultures and societies, and help us reflect on our own.

I think this is a great theme, encompassing as it does so many wonderful books, both fiction and nonfiction. I’ve put together some lists which, obviously, are in no way exhaustive. I’ve starred the ones I’ve read and loved, and I’ve included links to some other lists and resources for anyone interested in finding more great reads.

Edited: Nov 10, 12:39pm Top

*Academy Street by Mary Costello
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Small Island by Andrea Levy
*The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant
The Free World by David Bezmozgis
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson
The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig
A Good American by Alex George
Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon
*Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
The Road Home by Rose Tremain
Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
*The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
*Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Last Gift by Abdulrazak Gurnah

97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman
The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
*Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America by Tara Bahrampour

Edited: Nov 10, 12:40pm Top

I look forward to hearing about everyone's reads!

Nov 10, 2:18pm Top

I'd like to add a recommendation. It's a migration within the US, and it made my favourites list a couple of years ago:

The Warmth of Other Suns / Isabel Wilkerson.

Nov 10, 2:23pm Top

I've got quite a few options for this one:

The Hero's Walk / Anita Rau Badami
Intolerable / Kamal Al-Solaylee
Honolulu / Alan Brennert
China Dolls / Lisa See
Bury Me Standing / Isabel Fonseca
The Shoemaker's Wife / Adriana Trigiani
The Concubine's Children / Denise Chong

Nov 10, 2:24pm Top

I'll endorse your endorsement for Small Island which I loved.

For reading from the current European perspective, I'm planning on reading The Optician of Lampedusa which is about the migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean.

Nov 10, 2:24pm Top

>6 LibraryCin: ooh, I read Bury me Standing many many years ago and really enjoyed it. If Mt TBR wasn't so huge I'd consider it for a long overdue reread.

Nov 10, 2:44pm Top

>8 Jackie_K: Yeah, I just checked my library doesn't have it. :-( It would have to be an ILL, so it might wait a bit longer, after all.

Nov 10, 2:48pm Top

>5 LibraryCin: - I also loved The Warmth of Other Suns. I would love to get some more recommendations for books about internal migrations, whether in the US or elsewhere...

>6 LibraryCin: - That looks like a great list! And it reminds me I also have the Trigiani on my Kindle...

>7 Jackie_K: - I was hoping there might be a few suggestions for reads about the current situation in Europe with migrants crossing from Africa.

>8 Jackie_K: - I'd not heard of Bury Me Standing and I know so little about the Gypsies, I'll be adding it to my wish list.

Nov 10, 4:33pm Top

>10 katiekrug: More general books on migration, not Europe specifically, but including Europe as well as North America, and also on my TBR, are Jeremy Harding's Border Vigils: Keeping Migrants out of the Rich World, and Reece Jones' Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move. If I get the chance I'd also like to read one of those, but having possibly overcommitted myself in the November CATs I might start the month finishing off my November reads first.

Nov 10, 4:36pm Top

I've got Brick Lane slated for this theme, and I'm still looking around to figure out if I have some fitting nonfiction :)

Nov 10, 5:35pm Top

I am planning on reading The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant. I really enjoyed The Tiger by this author which I read a few years ago.

Nov 11, 3:00am Top

I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Exit West yet.

Nov 11, 3:18am Top

For something completely different: I liked Merle Kröger’s Havarie (in German, but there is an English translation titled “Collision“).

Nov 11, 4:00am Top

I'm finally going to pick up immigrants, a French graphic "novel" collecting 13 accounts of immigrants to France, interpreted by graphic artists, with the support of historians and amnesty international.

Nov 11, 9:26am Top

I've also just remembered another book on my TBR that would work for this theme - The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla.

Nov 12, 9:49am Top

>11 Jackie_K: and >17 Jackie_K: - Thanks for those suggestions, Jackie!

>12 whitewavedarling: - I'm contemplating Brick Lane as well, Jennifer. I've had my copy for ages...

>13 DeltaQueen50: - I hope you like The Jaguar's Children, Judy. It was a very powerful read.

>14 sushicat: - Oh my goodness, sushi, you're right! I read and loved Exit West earlier this year. It would be a great read for this month. Also, Home Fire has some interesting themes related to immigration and assimilation...

>15 sushicat: and >16 sushicat: - Hooray for more suggestions! The graphic novel sounds especially interesting to me.

Nov 12, 9:56am Top

I wanted to mention explicitly, though I think some of the suggestions already made have implied it, that "immigration" can take many forms, and any interpretation of it is welcome - "legal" immigration, internal migration, refugee and migrant journeys, etc. It's a topic obviously much in the news, in very different ways, from the US to Europe to Myanmar/Bangladesh, and Australia, just to name a few.

Nov 13, 12:38am Top

I'm going to join in with an historical GN, Gone To Amerikay by Derek McCulloch.

Nov 13, 8:24pm Top

>15 sushicat: I've been saving Exit West for this challenge. Can't wait to read it.

Nov 13, 10:58pm Top

>20 Familyhistorian: - Welcome aboard, Meg!

>21 beebeereads: - It's an excellent read, and perfect for this theme.

Nov 14, 1:19pm Top

I just got Exit West from the library, so I'm in. And it's one of you Dirty Dozen. Bonus!

Nov 14, 1:44pm Top


Edited: Nov 18, 6:06am Top

And I just got another perfect candidate from the library: Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova

Nov 18, 10:50am Top

>25 sushicat: - Excellent! I think Charlotte (charl08) in the 75ers group recently read that.

I am so excited about all the great book ideas being shared here!

Nov 18, 11:57am Top

I was trying to think of something and realized that my current read, In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende would fit here.

Nov 18, 5:39pm Top

>27 BLBera: - Are you liking that one, Beth? I heard Allende speak last winter and she talked a bit about the premise of In the Midst of Winter and it sounded interesting.

Group: 2017 Category Challenge

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