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10 Books to Read on Diaspora and Immigrant Stories

10 Books to Read on Diaspora and Immigrant Stories

In diasporic novels, we recognize stories and catalyze discussions on the honest struggles and momentous victories of migration: books that are centered on the vast experiences about identity, power, and privilege.

Here are 10 illuminating, refreshing, and critical concepts of diaspora you ought to read in your to-be-read list this year.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Americanah is a richly told story about a young Nigerian woman who immigrated to the United States to attend university. Fearless and gripping Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s third novel is a love story and the expectation set in today’s globalized world.

Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih 

In Season of Migration to the North, the unnamed narrator returns to Sudan after years of study in Europe with hopes of helping the country enter the modern world. This novel is a sensual work of deep honesty and is considered to be the most important Arab novel of the 20th century by a panel of Arab writers and critics.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen 

From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having accomplished everything she never will, The Refugees details stories that are captivating testaments to the dream and hardships of immigration.

If They Come For Us: Poems by Fatimah Asgharh

In this powerful and imaginative debut poetry collection, Fatimah Asghar nakedly captures the experiences of being a young Pakistani Muslim woman in America by braiding together personal and marginalized people's histories. In If They Come For Us, Fatimah confronts her own understanding of identity and place and belonging.

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

A group of Filipino women living in New York are trying to build a better life for their families. Jane is one of them: a young single mother who is desperate to make enough money to support herself and her baby. Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and of those they love.

Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Amy Tan’s Joy Club is about four Immigrant mothers, four daughters, and four families, whose histories shift with four winds depending on who’s telling the story. With wit and sensitivity, Joy Luck Club examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters.

Pachinko by Min-Jin Lee

Min-Jin Lee’s Pachinko spans four generations of a Korean family who moved to Japan amidst the Japanese colonization and political warfare. Delicately moving, this novel is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty — a tale of survival against the indifferent arc of history.

Concepcion by Albert Samaha

A journalist's powerful and incisive account of the forces steering the fate of his sprawling Filipino American family reframes how we comprehend the immigrant experience, Concepcion explores what it might mean to reckon with the unjust legacy of imperialism, to live with contradiction and hope, and to fight for the unrealized ideals of an inherited homeland.

I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib

A graphic memoir about self-discovery, a celebration of a family’s rich heritage, and a love letter to American immigrant freedom, I Was Their American Dream is at once a journal of growing up and a reminder of the thousands of immigrants who come to America in search for a better life for themselves and their children.

America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

In America Is Not the Heart, three generations of women from one immigrant family trying to reconcile the home they left behind with the life they're building in America. Elaine Castillo’s debut novel is not only a quiet, carefully-crafted family saga, driven by its characters, but it is also a beautiful queer romance; a story of leaving places, but never quite leaving those places. 

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