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Immigration

Read a book about immigration/emigration.

June 1, 2021

Books are one of the best ways to learn about another culture—and even our own culture. We’ve gathered together a list of books, both fiction and non-fiction, written by and about immigrants looking to share their stories.

This list is part of the 2021 Adult Summer Reading program.

American Like Me

American Like Me
Reflections on Life Between Cultures

America Ferrera

Presents a collection of first person accounts from prominent figures—including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, Roxane Gay and many more—about the experience of growing up between cultures.

The Bad Muslim Discount

The Bad Muslim Discount

Syed M. Masood

A homesick Pakistani immigrant chafing against the strictures of his family’s new devout Muslim life in California and a young woman who barely escaped war-torn Baghdad upend their community in the aftermath of a fateful chance encounter.

Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue

Two marriages, one immigrant working class and the other from the top one percent, are shaped by financial circumstances, infidelities, secrets and the 2008 recession.

The Boat People

The Boat People

Sharon Bala

A debut novel about a thirty-five-year-old Sri Lankan refugee who has survived the harrowing experiences of civil war, a prison camp, and a perilous ocean voyage to Canada—but his journey has only begun, as he and his young son navigate the morass of the refugee system.

The Book of Unknown Americans

The Book of Unknown Americans

Cristina Henríquez

Moving from Mexico to America when their daughter suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras confront cultural barriers, their daughter’s difficult recovery and her developing relationship with a Panamanian boy.

Bride of the Sea

Bride of the Sea

Eman Quotah

How can she exist between parents, between countries? This question lies at the heart of Eman Quotah’s spellbinding debut about colliding cultures, immigration, religion, and family; an intimate portrait of loss and healing, and, ultimately, a testament to the ways we find ourselves inside love, distance, and heartbreak

Call Me American

Call Me American

Abdi Nor Iftin

A young Somalian, who learned English through American pop culture uses his skills to post secret dispatches to the Internet and NPR after a radical Islamist group comes to power and until he finally wins a visa lottery to emigrate.

Dominicana

Dominicana

Angie Cruz

In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Angie Cruz’s Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.

A Dream Called Home

A Dream Called Home

Reyna Grande

Describes the author’s early experiences as a first-generation Latina university student and aspiring writer who navigated racism and poverty to build a life for her family.

Enrique's Journey

Enrique’s Journey

Sonia Nazario

Describes one Honduran boy’s difficult and dangerous journey to find his mother, who had made the trek northward to the United States in search of a better life when Enrique had been five years old, but who had never made enough money to return home for her children, in a poignant account that addresses the issues of family and the implications of illegal immigration.

Exit West

Exit West

Mohsin Hamid

Two young lovers engage in a furtive affair shaped by local unrest on the eve of a civil war that erupts in a cataclysmic bombing attack, forcing them to abandon their previous home and lives.

The Far Away Brothers

The Far Away Brothers
Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life

Lauren Markham

A chronicle of contemporary immigration follows the journey of a pair of teenaged twins from El Salvador who were forced by gang violence to seek safety and a better life in the United States.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

The Girl Who Smiled Beads
A Story of War and What Comes After

Clemantine Wamariya

Traces the author’s harrowing experiences as a young child during the Rwanda massacres and displacements, which separated her from her parents and forced the author and her older sister to endure six years as refugees in seven countries, foraging for survival and encountering unexpected acts of cruelty and kindness before she was granted asylum in a profoundly different America.

Home Fire

Home Fire

Kamila Shamsie

Given a chance to resume a deferred dream years after raising her troubled siblings, Isma worries about the influence of a powerful politician’s son who drives the family to choose between love and loyalty, with devastating consequences.

Homeland Elegies

Homeland Elegies

Ayad Akhtar

A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home

Of Women and Salt

Of Women and Salt

Gabriela Garcia

The daughter of a Cuban immigrant battles addiction and the fallout of her decision to take in the child of an ICE detainee, while her mother wrestles with displacement trauma and complicated family ties

Patriot Number One

Patriot Number One
American Dreams in Chinatown

Lauren Hilgers

A portrait of the Chinese immigrant community in Flushing, Queens, offers insights into how their experiences in China and America have reflected and transformed the American dream.

The Pianist from Syria

The Pianist From Syria

Aeham Ahmad

Traces the story of the author’s escape from war-torn Syria, drawing on first-person perspectives to offer insights into the refugee crisis.

A Place for Us

A Place for Us

Fatima Farheen Mirza

A story of family identity and belonging follows an Indian family through the marriage of their daughter, from the parents’ arrival in the United States to the return of their estranged son.

Refuge

Refuge

Dina Nayeri

An Iranian girl who escaped to America as a child grows up through 20 transformative years from a confused immigrant to an overachieving Westerner, before the plight of refugees in Europe compels the girl to save her father.

The Refugees

The Refugees

Viet Thanh Nguyen

A collection of stories, written over a twenty-year period, examines the Vietnamese experience in America as well as questions of home, family, and identity.

Transcendent Kingdom

Transcendent Kingdom

Yaa Gyasi

A follow-up to the best-selling Homegoing finds a sixth-year PhD candidate grappling with the childhood faith of the evangelical church in which she was raised while researching the science behind the suffering that has devastated her Ghanaian immigrant family.

The Ungrateful Refugee

The Ungrateful Refugee
What Immigrants Never Tell You

Dina Nayeri

The award-winning author of Refuge draws on first-person testimonies in an urgent portrait of the refugee crisis that reveals how it happened and the harmful ways that Western governments respond to the inhumane conditions refugees endure.

Welcome to the New World

Welcome to the New World

Jake Halpern, Michael Sloan

Delivered with warmth and intimacy, Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan’s Welcome to the New World is a wholly original view of the immigrant experience, revealing not only the trials and successes of one family but showing the spirit of a town and a country, for good and bad.

A Woman is No Man

A Woman is No Man

Etaf Rum

Three generations of Palestinian-American women in contemporary Brooklyn are torn by individual desire, educational ambitions, a devastating tragedy, and the strict mores of traditional Arab culture.