I, too, Read America: Fall Reading List
By Levi Perrin,
The American Experiment is a never-ending combination of hues, beliefs, cultures and languages from across the globe. Our literary canon is fueled by the rich perspectives and histories of our neighbors, friends, advocates and critics. This month, in honor of the immigrant experience, here’s a few of our favorite reads that add vibrant patches to America’s literary quilt.
Celeste Ng’s second novel reveals racial tension brewing beneath the placid surface of suburban Ohio. The New York Times says this novel is a “vast and complex network of moral affiliations — and the nuanced omniscient voice that Ng employs to navigate it — that make this novel even more ambitious and accomplished than her debut.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2006 novel explores Nigeria’s multi-pronged passions that exploded in 1967 to become the Biafran War. Later adapted into a 2013 film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose, Half of a Yellow Sun follows twin sisters as they set out on drastically different paths.
Immigration is often cast as a new beginning, a new chance, a rebirth – but memories, experiences and life exist before landing on U.S. shores. Julia Alvarez narrates this classic chronicle of four sisters fleeing a life of privilege in the turmoil-fueled Dominican Republic for a tumultuous adventure of assimilation and coming of age in New York City.
Two years ago, a group of American critics named The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao the best novel of the 21st century. Narrated by several characters, Junot Diaz’s novel takes readers into Oscar’s turbulent life through the lens of Dominican-Americans and the human capacity to persist through the low moments of life.
NoViolet Bulawayo’s characters inhabit a world left on the margins, but find comedy in white NGO workers whose mission is to “save them.” Bouncing between Zimbabwe and Detroit, Bulawayo’s debut novel examines misconceptions about the childhood of an African immigrant and “promise” of the New World.
After four years of hard work and laser focused frugality, Hassan Mahmoud can finally afford to bring his family to the United States from Egypt. Writer Bernard Wolf takes readers into the complicated lives of each character as they adapt to New York City and how to preserve their cultural and religious identity.
Edwidge Danticat combines ten stories of “ordinary” Haitians living under the Duvalier regime. Publishers Weekly says the mix of Catholicism and voodoo, the grip of dictatorship on men’s emotional health and women’s resilience through storytelling and sisterhood spin this book into an “elegant and moving…superb collection.”