Publications

    Homeland Elegies
    Akhtar, Ayad. Homeland Elegies. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "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. Ayad Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and the gods of finance rule, where immigrants live in fear, and where the nation's unhealed wounds wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerrilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one–least of all himself–in the process."–Provided by publisher.

    In the Country: Stories
    Alvar, Mia. In the Country: Stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A powerful, globe-trotting debut short-story collection from an exciting new writer–vivid, character-driven stories about Filipinos from every walk of life. Mia Alvar's stunning debut gives us a vivid, insightful picture of the Filipino diaspora: exiles and emigrants and wanderers uprooting their families to begin new lives in the Middle East and America–and, sometimes, turning back. One man smuggles drugs from his pharmacy in New York to Manila for his ailing father, only to discover an alarming truth about his mother. A woman living in Bahrain faces a challenge that compels her to question her marriage. A college student in Manila struggling to write fiction knows that her brother, who has gone abroad to make money, is the one living a life that stories are made of. The novella-length title story follows the unexpected fates of a journalist and a nurse during the 1970s labor strikes in Manila. Exploring the universal experience of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined, In the Country speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home"–Provided by publisher.
    Bestiary
    Chang, K-Ming. Bestiary. New York: One World, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "One evening, Ma tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman's body, named Hu Gu Po. She hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterwards, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt leaves red on everything she touches; another aunt arrives with eels in her belly. All the while, Daughter is falling for her neighbor, a girl named Ben with mysterious powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother's letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies an old Taiwanese myth–and that she will have to bring her family's secrets to light in order to change their destiny. With a poetic voice of crackling electricity, K Ming Chang is an explosive young writer who combines the wit and fabulism of Helen Oyeyemi with the magical realist aesthetic of Maxine Hong Kingston. Tracing one family's history from Mainland China to Taiwan, from Arkansas to California, Bestiary is a novel of migration, queer lineages, and womanhood"– provided by publisher.

    American Dirt
    Cummins, Jeanine. American Dirt. First U.S. edition. New York: Flatiron Books, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "También de este lado hay sueños. Lydia Quixano Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. Even though she knows they'll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with four books he would like to buy-two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia's husband's tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same. Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia-trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier's reach doesn't extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to? American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed when they finish reading it. A page-turner filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page, it is a literary achievement."– provided by publisher.
    A Particular Kind of Black Man
    Folarin, Tope. A Particular Kind of Black Man. First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "A stunning debut novel, from Rhodes Scholar and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, Tope Folarin about a Nigerian family living in Utah and their uncomfortable assimilation to American life. Living in small-town Utah has always been an uneasy fit for Tunde Akinola's family, especially for his Nigeria-born parents. Though Tunde speaks English with a Midwestern accent, he can't escape the children who rub his skin and ask why the black won't come off. As he struggles to fit in and find his place in the world, he finds little solace from his parents who are grappling with their own issues. Tunde's father, ever the optimist, works tirelessly chasing his American dream while his wife, lonely in Utah without family and friends, sinks deeper into schizophrenia. Then one otherwise-ordinary morning, Tunde's mother wakes him with a hug, bundles him and his baby brother into the car, and takes them away from the only home they've ever known. But running away doesn't bring her, or her children, any relief from the demons that plague her; once Tunde's father tracks them down, she flees to Nigeria, and Tunde never feels at home again. He spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection–to the wary stepmother and stepbrothers he gains when his father remarries; to the Utah residents who mock his father's accent; to evangelical religion; to his Texas middle school's crowd of African-Americans; to the fraternity brothers of his historically black college. In so doing, he discovers something that sends him on a journey away from everything he has known. Sweeping, stirring, and perspective-shifting, A Particular Kind of Black Man is a beautiful and poignant exploration of the meaning of memory, manhood, home, and identity as seen through the eyes of a first-generation Nigerian-American"– provided by publisher.

    Karma and Other Stories
    Reddi, Rishi. Karma and Other Stories. New York: Harper Perennial, 2007. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "In this sparkling collection, award-winning writer Rishi Reddi weaves a multigenerational tapestry of interconnected lives, depicting members of an Indian American community struggling to balance the demands of tradition with the allure of Western life"–
    A Woman is No Man
    Rum, Etaf. A Woman is No Man. New York: Harper, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children – four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear. Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra's oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda's insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can't help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family – knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect."–Publisher's description
    This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto
    Mehta, Suketu. This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "There are few subjects in American life that prompt more discussion and rancor these days than immigration. In [this book], the renowned author Suketu Mehta offers a reality-based polemic that vitally clarifies the debate. Drawing on his own experience as an Indian-born teenager growing up in New York City and on years of reporting around the globe, Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny. As he explains, the West is being destroyed not by immigrants but by fear of immigrants. Ranging from Dubai and Morocco to New York City, Mehta contrasts the phony narratives of populist ideologues with the ordinary heroism of laborers, domestic workers, and others, and he takes readers on a heartbreaking trip to San Diego and Tijuana, where a border fence divides families and damages lives. Throughout, Mehta shows why more people are on the move today than ever before. As civil strife and climate change reshape large parts of the planet, it is little surprise that borders have become so porous. But Mehta also stresses the destructive legacies of colonialism and global inequality in large swaths of the world: when today's immigrants are asked, "Why are you here?" they can justly respond, "We are here because you were there." And now that they are here, Mehta contends, they bring great benefits, enabling countries and communities to flourish. Impassioned, rigorous, and richly stocked with memorable stories and characters, [this book] is an urgent and necessary intervention, and a literary argument of the highest order."--Dust jacket.
    The Undocumented Americans
    Cornejo Villavicencio, Karla. The Undocumented Americans. New York: One World, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Traveling across the country, journalist Karla Cornejo Villavicencio risked arrest at every turn to report the extraordinary stories of her fellow undocumented Americans. Her subjects have every reason to be wary around reporters, but Cornejo Villavicencio has unmatched access to their stories. Her work culminates in a stunning, essential read for our times. Born in Ecuador and brought to the United States when she was five years old, Cornejo Villavicencio has lived the American Dream. Raised on her father's deliveryman income, she later became one of the first undocumented students admitted into Harvard. She is now a doctoral candidate at Yale University and has written for The New York Times. She weaves her own story among those of the eleven million undocumented who have been thrust into the national conversation today as never before. Looking well beyond the flashpoints of the border or the activism of the DREAMERS, Cornejo Villavicencio explores the lives of the undocumented as rarely seen in our daily headlines. In New York, we meet the undocumented workers who were recruited in the federally funded Ground Zero cleanup after 9/11. In Miami we enter the hidden botanicas, which offer witchcraft and homeopathy to those whose status blocks them from any other healthcare options. In Flint, Michigan, we witness how many live in fear as the government issues raids at grocery stores and demands identification before offering life-saving clean water. In her book, Undocumented America, Cornejo Villavicencio powerfully reveals the hidden corners of our nation of immigrants. She brings to light remarkable stories of hope and resilience, and through them we come to understand what it truly means to be American"– provided by publisher.

    The Water Dancer
    Coates, Ta-Nehisi. The Water Dancer. New York: One World, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
     "Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage -- and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child -- but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn't understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram's private rebellion. Spurred on by his improvised plantation family, Thena, his chosen mother, a woman of few words and many secrets, and Sophia, a young woman fighting her own war even as she and Hiram fall in love, he becomes determined to escape the only home he's ever known. So begins an unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia's proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, all Hiram wants is to return to the Walker Plantation to free the family he left behind -- but to do so, he must first master his magical gift and reconstruct the story of his greatest loss."-- Provided by publisher.
    Patsy
    Dennis-Benn, Nicole. Patsy. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A Jamaican woman leaves her daughter behind to immigrate to New York, where the happier life she expected is difficult to find as an undocumented worker." -- adapted from jacket description.

    "When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, she looks forward leaving Pennyfield, the beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where they were raised. Her plans don't include her overzealous, evangelical mother-- or her own five-year-old daughter, Tru. When Patsy arrives in Brooklyn, she survives as an undocumented immigrant, working as a bathroom attendant and nanny. Meanwhile, Tru builds a faltering relationship with her father back in Jamaica, grappling with her own questions of identity and sexuality, and trying desperately to empathize with her mother's decision." -- adapted from jacket
    Salt Houses
    Alyan, Hala. Salt Houses, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past, between displacement and home ... On the eve of her daughter Alia's wedding, Salma reads the girl's future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel, and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is up rooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967. Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus; Alia's brother gets pulled into a politically militarized world he can't escape; and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they reluctantly build a life with their three children. When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Alia and her family once again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it, scattering to Beirut, Paris, Boston, and beyond. Soon Alia's children begin families of their own, once again navigating the burdens (and blessings) of assimilation in foreign cities. Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses is a remarkable debut novel that challenges and humanizes an age-old conflict we might think we understand--one that asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can't go home again"-- Provided by publisher.
    Things We Lost to the Water
    Nguyen, Eric. Things We Lost to the Water. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "When Huong arrives in New Orleans with her two young sons, she is jobless, homeless, and worried about her husband, Cong, who remains in Vietnam. As she and her boys begin to settle into life in America, she continues to send letters and tapes back to Cong, hopeful that they will be reunited and her children will grow up with a father. Over time, Huong realizes she will never see Cong again. While she copes with this loss, her sons, Tuan and Binh, grow up in their absent father's shadow, haunted by a man and a country trapped in their memory and imagination. As they push forward, the three adapt to life in America in different ways: Huong takes up with a Vietnamese car salesman who is also new in town; Tuan tries to connect with his heritage by joining a local Vietnamese gang; and Binh, now going by Ben, embraces his burgeoning sexuality. Their search for identity–as individuals and as a family–tears them apart, until disaster strikes and they must find a new way to come together and honor the ties that bind them"–
    Mother Country
    Reyn, Irina. Mother Country. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    Nadia's daily life in south Brooklyn is filled with small indignities: as a senior home attendant, she is always in danger of being fired; as a part-time nanny, she is forced to navigate the demands of her spoiled charge and the preschooler's insecure mother; and as an ethnic Russian, she finds herself feuding with western Ukrainian immigrants who think she is a traitor. The war back home is always at the forefront of her reality. On television, Vladimir Putin speaks of the "reunification" of Crimea and Russia, the Ukrainian president makes unconvincing promises about a united Ukraine, while American politicians are divided over the fear of immigration. Nadia internalizes notions of "union" all around her, but the one reunion she has been waiting six years for - with her beloved daughter - is being eternally delayed by the Department of Homeland Security. When Nadia finds out that her daughter has lost access to the medicine she needs to survive, she takes matters into her own hands. -- from Amazon.com
    Unbecoming: A Memoir
    Bhagwati, Anuradha Kristina. Unbecoming: A Memoir. First Atria Books hardcover edition. New York: Atria Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A raw, unflinching, and inspirational memoir by a former United States Marine Captain describing her journey from dutiful daughter of immigrants to wide-eyed recruit to radical activist dedicated to effecting historic policy reform in the military. After a lifetime of buckling to the demands of her strict Indian parents, Anuradha Bhagwati abandons her grad school career at Harvard University to join the Marines. It's the fiercest, most violent, most masculine branch of the military: the perfect place for her to prove that she's the ultimate Cool Girl, someone who can brawl with the boys in every sense of the word. Or at least that's what she thinks. From the moment training begins, Anuradha's G.I. Jane fantasy is punctured. As a bisexual woman of color in the military, she faces adversity and underestimation at every stage, confronting misogyny, racism, abuse, and astonishing injustice perpetrated by those in power. Pushing herself beyond her limits to prove her ability, she is forced to wrestle with what exactly drove her to pursue such punishment and violence in the first place. Once her service concludes in 2004, instead of retreating and putting it all behind her, she decides to do the exact opposite: take to task the leaders and outmoded conventions that she found so objectionable and even dangerous. Full of strength, courage, and heroic resilience, Unbecoming is about one woman who learned to believe in herself in spite of everything; it is the kind of story that will light a fire beneath you, and that will inspire our next generation of fierce female heroes to always persist"-- Provided by publisher.
    Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China
    Guo, Xiaolu. Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China. First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition. New York: Grove Press, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Xiaolu Guo is one of the most acclaimed Chinese-born writers of her generation, an iconoclastic and completely contemporary voice. Her vivid, poignant memoir, Nine Continents is the story of a curious mind coming of age in an inhospitable country, and her determination to seek a life beyond the limits of its borders. Xiaolu Guo has traveled further than most to become who she needed to be. Now, as she experiences the birth of her daughter in a London maternity ward surrounded by women from all over the world, she looks back on that journey. It begins in the fishing village shack on the East China Sea where her illiterate grandparents raised her, and brings her to a rapidly changing Beijing, full of contradictions: a thriving underground art scene amid mass censorship, curious Westerners who held out affection only to disappear back home. Eventually Xiaolu determined to see the world beyond China for herself, and now, after fifteen years in Europe, her words resonate with the insight of someone both an outsider and at home, in a world far beyond the country of her birth. Nine Continents presents a fascinating portrait of China in the eighties and nineties, how the Cultural Revolution shaped families, and how the country's economic ambitions gave rise to great change. It is also a moving testament to the birth of a creative spirit, and of a new generation being raised to become citizens of the world. It confirms Xiaolu Guo as one of world literature's most urgent voices."--Provided by publisher.

    What We Are: A Novel
    Malae, Peter Nathaniel. What We Are: A Novel. New York: Grove/Atlantic, 2011. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "This novel of a young Samoan-American’s search for authenticity is “a rollercoaster ride inside the haunted house of American multi-cultural sin and shame” (Sherman Alexie). The twenty-eight-year-old mixed-race son of a Samoan immigrant, Paul Tusifale is desperate to find his place in an American culture that barely acknowledges his existence. Within the Silicon Valley landscape of grass-roots activists and dotcom headquarters, where the plight of migrant workers is ever-present, Paul drifts on and off the radar. An unemployed drifter who defiantly—even violently—defends those in need, Paul soon discovers that life as an urban Robin Hood will never provide the answers he seeks. So he decides to try the straight-and-narrow: getting a job, obeying the law, and reconnecting with his family. Along the way, Paul moves through the lives of sinister old friends, suburban cranksters, and septuagenarian swingers. A dynamic addition to America’s diverse literature of the outsider, What We Are brings to life the pull of a departed father’s homeland, the anger of class divisions, the noise of the evening news, and the pathos of the disengaged."
    The Other Americans
    Lalami, Laila. The Other Americans. New York: Pantheon Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "From the Pulitzer Prize finalist, author of The Moor's Account–a timely and powerful new novel about the suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant that is at once a family saga, a murder mystery, and a love story, all of it informed by the treacherous fault lines of American culture. Nora Guerraoui, a jazz composer, returns home to a small town in the Mojave after hearing that her father, owner of a popular restaurant there, has been killed in a suspicious hit-and-run car accident. Told by multiple narrators–Nora herself, Jeremy (the Iraq war veteran with whom she develops an intimacy), widow Maryam, Efrain (an immigrant witness to the accident who refuses to get involved for fear of deportation), Coleman (the police investigator), and Driss (the dead man himself), The Other Americans deftly explores one family's secrets and hypocrisies even as it offers a portrait of Americans riven by race, class, and religion, living side by side, yet ignorant of the vicissitudes that each tribe, as it were, faces" – provided by publisher.

    Waiting for the Waters to Rise
    Condé, Maryse. Waiting for the Waters to Rise. New York: World Editions, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Babakar is a doctor living alone, with only the memories of his childhood in Mali. In his dreams, he receives visits from his blue-eyed mother and his ex-lover Azelia, both now gone, as are the hopes and aspirations he's carried with him since his arrival in Guadeloupe. Until, one day, the child Anaïs comes into his life, forcing him to abandon his solitude."--Back cover
    Above Us the Milky Way: An Illuminated Alphabet
    Karimi, Fowzia. Above Us the Milky Way: An Illuminated Alphabet. Dallas, TX: Deep Vellum Publishing, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A debut novel about a young family forced to flee their war-ravaged homeland, forced to leave behind everything and everyone beloved and familiar. Old family photographs and the author's own lush watercolor paintings inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts interweave with remembrances, ghost stories, stories of the war dead, and fairy tales to conjure a story of war, of emigration and immigration, the remarkable human capacity to experience love and wonder amidst destruction and loss, and how to create beauty out of horror"-- Provided by publisher.

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