In celebrating the birth of America each July, we must also remember why it came to be: It is a country founded on the guiding principles of freedom and equality. Millions have flocked to its shores to work for a better life for themselves and their families. With our book picks this month, we focus on the immigrant and first-generation experience.
A beautiful and wordless graphic novel about the journey of one man to a new country. Facing dehumanizing struggles, he also finds new friendship and warmth.
Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang
This is the story of a Chinese-American kid in a could-be-anywhere cul-de-sac, blazing his way through America’s deviant subcultures and trying to find himself, ten thousand miles from his legacy and anchored only by his conflicted love for his family and his passion for food.
The Gringo Champion by Aura Xilonen
Liborio must leave Mexico, so he crosses the Rio Bravo, like many others, to reach the “promised land.” From his abandonment as a child, to working at a bookstore, to finding his calling as a boxer, this illegal immigrant tells his story.
My Ántonia by Willa Cather
Emigrating from Bohemia to Nebraska with her cultured family, Ántonia finds herself in a primitive house on the windblown Midwest prairie. Willa Cather’s best work interweaves Ántonia’s blossoming into womanhood with the early days of twentieth-century America.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
On the heels of an arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli leave Calcutta for Massachusetts, where Ashoke tries to adapt while Ashima pines for home. When their son, Gogol, is born, we watch as he stumbles along the first-generational path, with expectations bestowed on him by his parents.
Professor Timofey Pnin, a Russian émigré, is employed on an American college campus in the 1950s. He struggles to maintain his dignity through a series of comic and sad misunderstandings exacerbated by his shaky grasp of the English language.