Thursday, July 5, 2018

Some Favorite Books by Immigrants

Photo by Tony Webster. CC License

Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh, and the whole Ibis Trilogy including River of Smoke and Flood of Fire. The series, by Indian-born Ghosh, details the lives and fortunes of a panoply of characters during the first Opium Wars and takes place on the seas and shores of India and China. It's a breathtaking epic.

The Patriots, by Sana Krasikov. Ukrainian by birth, Krasikov has long been on my list of writers to watch. The Patriots is her first novel and covers the life of an American who travels to Russia only to get caught up in Stalinism and the shifting sands of the Soviet Union in the 20th century.

Hild, by Nicola Griffith. British Griffith was mainly known as a science fiction/fantasy writer before producing this vivid and engrossing historical fiction about a young woman in the England of swords and castles. It's an incredible coming of age story about an extraordinary person.

American Gypsy, by Oksana Marafioti. Russian-born and part Roma, Marafioti wrote this memoir about growing up in Los Angeles in the 1980s. It's charming and bittersweet, full of detail and emotion. I enjoyed it on several levels and highly recommend it.

Before Night Falls, by Reinaldo Arenas. Cuban dissident Arenas wrote this memoir to document his life and the struggles he endured as his country changed around him. It's an incredibly moving and life-affirming work.

Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, by Frank Delaney. Irish-born Delaney started a trilogy with this book, about a man's search for his lost love. It's funny and emotional and just plain delightful.

Pushkin Hills, by Sergei Dovlatov. Jewish/Armenian Russian-born Dovlatov eventually settled in the Rego Park neighborhood of Queens, but not before penning this absurdist and wonderful novel about a poet working at a tourist resort and all of his daily travails. I love this book so much.

A Mountain of Crumbs, by Elena Gorokhova. Russian-born Gorokhova wrote this book about her childhood and growing realization that she needed to leave her homeland for greater opportunities in America. She draws a detailed picture of the struggles and deprivations of 1970s Soviet life, and also some of its joys.

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah. South African, biracial and a polyglot, comedian Noah wrote a moving, funny and insightful book about his family and his country. The more I learn about South Africa the less I feel like I know and Noah's book brought out more dimensions to explore.

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