Immigration has been an important component of US society since its beginning, and it has been a topic of discussion in the political sphere for some time now. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, in the second quarter of 2022 there have been around 96,000 new admissions to the US. These are people who have moved to live in this country for a variety of reasons, and not just because of tourism. There have also been over 124,000 people who have readjusted their migratory status to stay in the country. This shows that immigration is a dynamic and growing phenomenon that is at the core of the US, and if you are interested in narratives that focus on this topic (and not just related to this country), here is a list of books that might interest you.
Starting with nonfiction, I recommend Black American Refugee by Tiffanie Drayton, a writer and journalist from Trinidad and Tobago who moved to the US at the age of four. In this memoir the author recounts her experience with migrating to the states at such a young age and experiencing the disillusion of understanding that the “American dream” is unattainable for people of color due to the systemic racism ingrained in this country, which eventually cemented her decision of leaving as an adult. It’s a great book for anyone interested in learning about how an outsider confronts this problem that is so prevalent in the US.
Another nonfiction recommendation is Home in the World: A Memoir by Amartya Sen. This winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics has been a professor at various universities including England, the US, and his home country of India, amongst others. In this book he returns to his roots and narrates his experiences through the partition of India and the fragmentation in identity that this meant for his people, and he also covers his formative years, his participation in student movements, and his search to perfect his education, which turned him into a global citizen. This is a memoir that stems from a turbulent past, and I recommended it for people interested in learning about foreign history, as this is a phenomenon that resonates through the twentieth century and that has had similar manifestations in the last decades as well.
For fiction, I recommend What Strange Paradise by Egyptian author and journalist Omar El Akkad, winner of the 2021 Giller Prize. As part of his work, he has covered topics such as the war on Afghanistan and the 2010 protests in Egypt, and he brings that experience to this story. In the book, a boat carrying refugees from Syria crashes near a small island leaving only one of its passengers alive, a nine-year-old boy named Amir who is forced to go on the run in order to escape being left stranded in a refugee camp. The author brings attention to the racism the refugees face in their quest to find a better tomorrow. It is an essential read for those interested in a story that brings forth the reality that refugees face, yet offers a hopeful outlook for them, even if in a small amount.
You should also check some of the titles here at Ooligan Press that include immigrant narratives. If you are interested in short stories Short, Vigorous Roots is the book for you. This anthology, edited by Mark Budman and Susan O’Neill, contains a collection of stories from authors that come from different parts of the world. You will surely find something that grabs you in the diverse experiences that are collected in this book.
And finally, be on the lookout for Extreme Vetting, one of our upcoming titles. In this thriller, Laura Holban, an immigrant and immigration lawyer in Seattle, works tirelessly to save her client Emilio Ramirez from being deported and separated from his family in the US. But she is going up against a corrupt government institution that profits from the misery of those they prosecute. Don’t miss out on this engaging story when it arrives this February!