lists

The Immigrant Experience Through Literature: Novels, Short Stories, Poetry

The extraordinary ethnic diversity of the United States is due to the vast numbers of immigrants who have settled here. Many Americans today grew up listening to stories from their parents or grandparents about what it was like to come to a new country and struggle to build a life for themselves and their families. In relocating from one country to another, newcomers have had to find a way to make a living, in addition to adjusting to an unfamiliar culture and often a new language. Through expressive novels, short stories, poetry, plays, biographies and memoirs that have been recently published, the books on this list describe the immigrant experience by those who have lived it.

NYPL Selection
The Angel Max

By Glassgold, Peter

The Angel Max
The Angel Max

By Glassgold, Peter

Revolutionary politics of 1880s New York centers around three generations of a Jewish immigrant family.

Book - 1998

A Bar in Brooklyn

By Codrescu, Andrei

A Bar in Brooklyn
A Bar in Brooklyn

By Codrescu, Andrei

A collection of immigrant stories by an author who emigrated from Romania.

Book - 1999

Better Than Gold

By Silver, Fannie

Better Than Gold
Better Than Gold

By Silver, Fannie

Short stories recount the family life of a Jewish immigrant girl in the early 1920s.

Book - 1997

Beyond the Limbo Silence

By Nunez, Elizabeth

Beyond the Limbo Silence
Beyond the Limbo Silence

By Nunez, Elizabeth

In 1963 a young woman from Trinidad attends a Wisconsin college.

Book - 1998

The Big Banana

By Quesada, Roberto

The Big Banana
The Big Banana

By Quesada, Roberto

A Honduran actor tries to survive in the "Big Banana"; New York City.

Book - 1999

Chinhominey's Secret

A portrait of the intergenerational and cultural conflicts within a Korean family.

Book - 1999

Comfort Woman

By Keller, Nora Okja

Comfort Woman
Comfort Woman

By Keller, Nora Okja

This novel explores the universal conflict between mother and daughter through the voices of a young Korean-American girl and her spiritual mother.

Book - 1997

Empress of the Splendid Season

Disowned by her Cuban family, Lydia works as a seamstress in New York.

Book - 1999

Fasting, Feasting

By Desai, Anita

Fasting, Feasting
Fasting, Feasting

By Desai, Anita

East and West clash in this arresting novel set in India and the US.

Paperback - 1999

The Gangster of Love

By Hagedorn, Jessica Tarahata

The Gangster of Love
The Gangster of Love

By Hagedorn, Jessica Tarahata

The Philippine Rivera family comes to the United States to make a new life.

Book - 1996

Garden of Exile

By Rodríguez, Aleida

Garden of Exile
Garden of Exile

By Rodríguez, Aleida

A first collection of poems by a Cuban exile, written in English and Spanish.

Book - 1999

A Gesture Life

By Lee, Chang-rae

A Gesture Life
A Gesture Life

By Lee, Chang-rae

A Japanese man of Korean birth strives to become part of the melting pot.

Book - 2000

Growing up Ethnic in America

The author of this item is not available

Growing up Ethnic in America
Growing up Ethnic in America

The author of this item is not available

An anthology of stories by noted authors about the immigrant experience.

Book - 1999

House of Sand and Fog

By Dubus, Andre

House of Sand and Fog
House of Sand and Fog

By Dubus, Andre

A former colonel in the Iranian army contends with life in Miami.

Book - 1999

The Houseguest

By Rossi, Agnes

The Houseguest
The Houseguest

By Rossi, Agnes

An Irish immigrant settles in Paterson, NJ and falls in love with his host's wife.

Book - 2000

The Immigrant Train and Other Stories

By Petesch, Natalie L. M.

The Immigrant Train and Other Stories
The Immigrant Train and Other Stories

By Petesch, Natalie L. M.

Short stories based on the author's family who were poor Polish immigrants.

Book - 1996

Interpreter of Maladies

By Lahiri, Jhumpa

Interpreter of Maladies
Interpreter of Maladies

By Lahiri, Jhumpa

Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, this accomplished collection of short stories explores the lives of Indian immigrants.

Unknown - 1999

The Irish Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett

Eight literary portraits of Irish immigrants who settled in the 19th Century.

Book - 1996

Jaguar

By Stoller, Paul

Jaguar
Jaguar

By Stoller, Paul

A Nigerian street vendor in Harlem seeks residency in the U.S.A.

Book - 1999

Memories of My Ghost Brother

By Fenkl, Heinz Insu

Memories of My Ghost Brother
Memories of My Ghost Brother

By Fenkl, Heinz Insu

A young Amerasian comes to terms with his own identity and memories of a lost half-brother.

Book - 1996

Monkey Bridge

By Cao, Lan

Monkey Bridge
Monkey Bridge

By Cao, Lan

An insightful story by a Vietnamese American about the war experience.

Book - 1997

The New Sweet Style

By Aksenov, Vasiliĭ

The New Sweet Style
The New Sweet Style

By Aksenov, Vasiliĭ

Picaresque novel about a Russian artist who tries his luck in the United States.

Book - 1999

Odyssey to the North

By Bencastro, Mario

Odyssey to the North
Odyssey to the North

By Bencastro, Mario

Calixto escapes torture in El Salvador.

Book - 1998

The Promised Land

By Veltfort, Ruhama

The Promised Land
The Promised Land

By Veltfort, Ruhama

Spiritual tale of Orthodox Jewish immigrant pioneers.

Book - 1998

Sari of the Gods

By Sharat Chandra, G. S.

Sari of the Gods
Sari of the Gods

By Sharat Chandra, G. S.

Nineteen short stories dealing with the experiences of Indian immigrants.

Book - 1998

Tropical Town and Other Poems

By Selva, Salomón de la

Tropical Town and Other Poems
Tropical Town and Other Poems

By Selva, Salomón de la

This collection deals with the Nicaraguan poet's experiences in World War I and as an exile from his homeland.

Book - 1999

Who's Irish?

By Jen, Gish

Who's Irish?
Who's Irish?

By Jen, Gish

In eight lively stories, the author chronicles Chinese and other immigrant groups as they exuberantly take on America.

Book - 1999