Arts & Entertainment

63 Books About The Immigrant Experience

84 BOOKS ON THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE

 

America is a blend of many different people, world cultures and ethnicities. In June 2014, Immigrant Heritage Month was created to give people across the United States an opportunity to explore their own heritage and celebrate the shared diversity that forms the unique story of America.

An individuals’ experience of relocating from one country to another, is a difficult one emotionally, mentally and financially. They have to find ways to make a living, adjust to an unfamiliar culture and often a new language as they struggle to build a new life for themselves and their families.  But for women immigrants they suffer the most from unequal access to information, resources and opportunities. One third of them don’t have High School Diplomas and one fifth of them are their head of households which contributes to them having low earnings and high poverty levels. As a result, the are more affected, burdened and acutely vulnerable by the immigrant experience.

We’ve compiled a list of 80 books that’s a mix of memoirs, fiction and essays that describe the immigrant experience by the women who have lived, navigated and defied it against all odds.

 

 

1. Becoming American: Personal Essays by First Generation Immigrant Women By Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Amazon

This collection of original essays, the first of its sort, written by first generation women immigrants, offers a glimpse into the process of assimilation.

 

2. The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands By Margaret Regan

Amazon

Margaret Regan has reported on the escalating chaos along the Arizona-Mexico border, ground zero for immigration since 2000. Undocumented migrants cross into Arizona in overwhelming numbers, a state whose anti-immigrant laws are the most stringent in the nation. And Arizona has the highest number of migrant deaths. Fourteen-year-old Josseline, a young girl from El Salvador who was left to die alone on the migrant trail, was just one of thousands to perish in its deserts and mountains. Regan tells the stories of the all the people, from migrants, border patrol, No More Death Activists, angry ranchers and vigilantes caught up in this international tragedy.

 

3. Jasmine and Fire: A Bittersweet Year in Beirut by Salma Abdelnour

Amazon

 

This is a memoir of the year the author spent in Beirut, the city in which she was born and from which she and her family fled when she was a child. Now a successful journalist and food critic living in New York, she ndoesn’t feel she belongs anywhere. Yearning to capture the feeling she had living in Beirut as a child, she makes a decision to sublet her Manhattan apartment, maintain a long distance relationship with her boyfriend and move into her parents’ apartment in Ras Beirut.

 

4. The Wind Doesn’t Need A Passport by Tyche Hendricks

Amazon

 

Award-winning journalist Tyche Hendricks has explored the U.S.-Mexico borderlands by car and by foot, on horseback, and in the back of a pickup truck. She has shared meals with border residents, listened to their stories, and visited their homes, churches, hospitals, farms, and jails. In this dazzling portrait of one of the least understood and most debated regions in the country, Hendricks introduces us to the ordinary Americans and Mexicans who live there—cowboys and Indians, factory workers and physicians, naturalists and nuns. A new picture of the borderlands emerges, and we find that this region is not the dividing line so often imagined by Americans, but is a common ground alive with the energy of cultural exchange and international commerce, burdened with too-rapid growth and binational conflict, and underlain with a deep sense of history.

 

  1. To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America by Tara Bahrampour

Amazon

 

A compelling and intimate exploration of the complexity of a bicultural immigrant experience, To See and See Again traces three generations of an Iranian (and Iranian-American) family undergoing a century of change–from the author’s grandfather, a feudal lord with two wives; to her father, a freespirited architect who marries an American pop singer; to Bahrampour herself, who grows up balanced precariously between two cultures and comes of age watching them clash on the nightly news.

  1. Behold The Dreamers by IMBOLO MBUE

Amazon

A story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York as they grapple with marriage, immigration, class, race and the American Dream, just as the Great Recession upends the economy.

  1. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Amazon

 

Interpreter of Maladies is a book collection of nine short stories about the lives of Indians and Indian Americans who are caught between their roots and the “New World.”

 

8. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Amazon

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

  1. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

Amazon

 

The Buddha in the Attic, tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago. In eight unforgettable sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the extraordinary lives of these women, from their arduous journeys by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; from their experiences raising children who would later reject their culture and language, to the deracinating arrival of war. It’s a spellbinding novel about identity and loyalty, and what it means to be an American in uncertain times.

 

  1. Olive Witch by Abeer Y Hoque

Amazon

In the 1970s, Nigeria is flush with oil money, building new universities, and hanging on to old colonial habits. At thirteen, Abeer Hoque, a Bangladeshi girl moves from Nigeria with her family to suburban Pittsburgh and finds herself surrounded by clouded skies and high schoolers who speak in movie quotes and pop culture slang. Finding her place as a young woman in America proves more difficult than she can imagine. Disassociated from her parents, and laid low by academic pressure and spiralling depression, she is committed to a psychiatric ward in Philadelphia. When she moves to Bangladesh on her own, it proves to be yet another beginning for someone who is only just getting used to being an outsider – wherever she is.

 

11 . Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi’s

Amazon

 

A renowned surgeon and failed husband, Kweku Sai dies suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of his death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, he abandoned years before. It’s a portrait of a modern family and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are.

 

12. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

Amazon

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia’s parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy.

 

13. Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

Amazon

Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families; two young women, ripe for love with hopes for the future; and a chance encounter that leads to the terrible heritage they must reckon with for years to come. One tragic moment that defines the fate of these women and their families will haunt their choices for decades to come. In the end, love and longing promise only an uneasy peace.

 

14. Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion Edited by Piyali Bhattacharya

Amazon

Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion is Piyali Bhattacharya’s decade-long labor of love to bring together the stories of 27 South Asian American women in one essay collection. The authors’ families hail from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, with Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, and Muslim backgrounds and examines the multiple facets of daughterhood in South Asian American families.

15. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor

Amazon

The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.

 

16.  A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernández

Amazon

A heartfelt exploration of family, identity, and language and coming-of-age memoir by a Colombian-Cuban woman about shaping lessons from home and finding herself and her community, and of creating a new, queer life.

 

 

17.  Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair) by Rosie Perez

Amazon

 

Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez’s never-before-told story of surviving a harrowing childhood and of how she found success both in and out of the Hollywood limelight.

  

18.  Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by Raquel Cepeda

Amazon

 In 2009, when Raquel Cepeda almost lost her estranged father to heart disease, she was terrified she’d never know the truth about her ancestry. Every time she looked in the mirror, Cepeda saw a mystery—a tapestry of races and ethnicities that came together in an ambiguous mix. With time running out, she decided to embark on an archaeological dig of sorts by using the science of ancestral DNA testing to excavate everything she could about her genetic history.


 19.  Rita Moreno: A Memoir by Rita Moreno

Amazon

In this luminous memoir, Rita Moreno shares her remarkable journey from a young girl with simple beginnings in Puerto Rico  to Hollywood legend—and one of the few performers, and the only Hispanic, to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and two Emmys.

 

20.  Almost A Woman by Esmeralda Santiago

Amazon

This sequel to the story of Santiago’s childhood (When I Was Puerto Rican) covers her life as an adolescent and young woman when she lived in Brooklyn, New York, with her mother and 10 siblings during the 1960s. Puerto Rican immigrants, the family suffered through periods of poverty exemplified by the author’s trips to the welfare office with Mami, where she translated her mother’s Spanish so that they could obtain benefits. Santiago’s good humor, zest for life and fighting spirit permeate her chronicle and moderate the impact of the hard times she describes.” —

 

21.  American Chica by Marie Arana

Amazon

 In her father’s Peruvian family, Marie Arana was taught to be a proper lady, yet in her mother’s American family she learned to shoot a gun, break a horse, and snap a chicken’s neck for dinner. Arana shuttled easily between these deeply separate cultures for years. But only when she immigrated with her family to the United States did she come to understand that she was a hybrid American whose cultural identity was split in half. Coming to terms with this split is at the heart of this graceful, beautifully realized portrait of a child who “was a north-south collision, a New World fusion            

 

22. Havana Real: One Woman Fights To Tell The Truth About Cuba Today by Yoani Sánchez

Amazon

Yoani Sánchez’s been kidnapped and beaten, lives under surveillance, and can only get online—in disguise—at tourist hotspots. She’s a blogger, she’s a Cuban, and she’s a worldwide sensation. She produces a simple diary about what it means to live under the Castro regime: the chronic hunger and the difficulty of shopping; the art of repairing ancient appliances; and the struggles of living under a propaganda machine that pushes deep into public and private life. For these simple acts of truth-telling her life is one of constant threat. But she continues on, refusing to be silenced—a living response to all who have ceased to believe in a future for Cuba.

 

 23.  Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa

Amazon

Anzaldua, a Chicana native of Texas, explores in prose and poetry via English and Spanish, the murky, precarious existence of those living on the “borderlands” between cultures and languages and takes on race, gender and colonialism

 

23. I Begin My Life All Over: The Hmong and the American Immigrant Experience by Lillian Faderman

Amazon

I Begin My Life All Over records the story of 35 Hmong immigrants to California, tracing their journey from Laos to relocation to a new continent, and a new century. Throughout these first-person narratives, Lillian Faderman provides historical context, and draws rich comparisons between the experience of the Hmong in the 1990s and her mother’s immigration from Eastern European “shtetls” in the 1930s.

 

24.  Immigrant: A Memoir by Betty Chiang by Betty Chiang

Amazon

Betty was born in Shanghai in 1928 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1948. Her family and she experienced the China of wealth and privilege prior to war with Japan, civil war and revolution, and Communism. Her father, Zhou Junshi, was a prominent scientist and scholar in China who studied under Albert Einstein in Europe during the early 1900’s. While a student in Europe, her father became friends with Zhe De, the founder of the Red Army. In 1949, while Betty was attending college in Kentucky, her father died in China as a political prisoner, and Betty had to start a new life as an immigrant in the U.S.

 

25. Undocumented in L.A.: An Immigrant’s Story  by Dianne Walta Hart

Amazon

A woman in her late thirties named Yamileth obtains a passport, leaves her home, and makes a daring, dangerous trip from war-torn Nicaragua through Central America to the United States to join her family. Her daily experiences mirror the hopes and frustrations of women and men who must confront new cultural, economic, and political environments. Author Dianne Walta Hart’s long and close relationship with Yamileth allows her to present Yamileth’s cultural struggles and personal development in poignant narrative and passages in Yamileth’s own words and show the reader the opposition and difficulties undocumented immigrants face in a nation that at first beckons them with freedom, then rejects them with unwelcoming borders and restrictive laws.

 

 26. Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas

Amazon

Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas’s wonderfully engaging family, who grapples with American English, American traditions and American culture and identity..


 27. Rosa:The Life of an Italian Immigrant byMarie Hall Ets

Amazon

This is the life story of Rosa Cavalleri, an Italian woman who came to the United States in 1884, one of the peak years in the nineteenth-century wave of immigration. A vivid, richly detailed account, the narrative traces Rosa’s life in an Italian peasant village and later in Chicago. Marie Hall Ets, a social worker and friend of Rosa’s at the Chicago Commons settlement house during the years following World War I, meticulously wrote down her lively stories to create this book.

 

28. On Gold Mountain by Lisa See

Amazon

Lisa See chronicles the one-hundred-year-odyssey of her Chinese-American family, a history that encompasses racism, romance, secret marriages, entrepreneurial genius, and much more, as two distinctly different cultures meet in a new world.


 29. Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe

Amazon

A powerful and moving account of four young women from Mexico who have lived most of their lives in the United States and attend the same high school. Two of them have legal documentation and two do not. This is a vivid coming-of-age story about girlhood, friendship, and, most of all, identity — what it means to fake an identity, steal an identity, or inherit an identity from one’s parents and country. No matter what one’s opinions are about immigration, Just Like Us offers fascinating insight into one of our most complicated social issues today. The girls, their families, those who welcome them, and those who object to their presence all must grapple with the same deep dilemma: Who is an American? Who gets to live in America? And what happens when we don’t agree?

 

 30. Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child by Elva Trevino Hart

Amazon

Barefoot Heart is a vividly told autobiographical account of the life of a child growing up in a family of migrant farm workers. Elva Trevino Hart was born in south Texas to Mexican immigrants and spent her childhood moving back and forth between Texas and Minnesota, eventually leaving that world to earn a master’s degree in computer science/engineering.


 31. . My Name Is Iran: A Memoir by Iran Davar Ardalan

Amazon

Drawing on her remarkable personal history, NPR producer Davar Ardalan brings us the lives of three generations of women and their ordeals with love, rejection, and revolution.

 

32. My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive by Julissa Arce

Amazon

Julissa Arce climbed the corporate ladder-a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties. In 2005, against all odds, she landed one of the most coveted jobs as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, to becoming a Vice President, complete with a high six-figure salary and all of the perks that come with living the Goldman Sachs life. What none of her colleagues knew is that she wasn’t just a young woman who broke through ceilings in a cutthroat male-dominated field: she was also an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. In MY (UNDERGROUND) AMERICAN DREAM, Arce opens up about the true price of pursuing the American Dream.

 

33. In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero

Amazon

Diane Guerrero is the star of Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin presents her personal story of the real plight of undocumented immigrants in this country. She just fourteen years old on the day her parents and brother were arrested and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life for herself and a successful acting career, without the support system of her family. This is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country.

 

34. This Is Not a Love Story: A Memoir by Judy Brown

Amazon

Judy Brown, The third of six children recounts growing up Hassidic in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1980s and ’90s. capturing the voice of her younger self, growing up in the closed world of her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community marked by piety, prejudice, and superstition and her loving family roiled by the mystifying, often terrifying, affliction of her younger brother, Nachum

 

35. The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan

Amazon

An elegant tapestry of East and West, peppered with food and ceremony, four women who have remained close decades, shared treasured recipes, honored customs, and the challenges of women shaped by ancient ways yet living modern lives. They are the Hindi-Bindi Club, a nickname given by their American daughters to the mothers who left India to start anew—daughters now grown and facing struggles of their own as they question whether they have the courage of the Hindi-Bindi Club, to hold on to their dreams—or to create new ones.

 

36. Russian Tattoo: A Memoir by Elena Gorokhova

Amazon

In A Mountain of Crumbs Elena Gorokhova describes coming of age behind the Iron Curtain and leaving her mother and her Motherland for a new life in the United States and learns that the journey of an immigrant is filled with everyday mistakes, small humiliations, and a loss of dignity and cultural disorientation. With the simultaneous birth of her daughter and the arrival of her Soviet mother, who comes to the US to help care for her granddaughter and stays for twenty-four years, it becomes the story of a unique balancing act and a family struggle.

 

37. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Amazon

Homegoing chronicles the members that make up the family tree of the descendants of half sisters Effia and Esi. One side of the family ends up in the United States through the Atlantic Slave Trade, while one remains in Ghana. Gyasi makes use of pivotal moments in history such as the Harlem Renaissance and places her characters in them.

  

38. Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall

Amazon

During the Great Depression and World War II, a Barbadian family living in Brooklyn is forced to contend with wrenching poverty and unjust racism.

 

39. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Amazon

Two generations of Chinese-American women struggle against maintaining footholds in tradition and new cultural protocols. In the end, though, everything relates back to the importance of family connections.

 

40. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid

Amazon

Lucy leaves the West Indies for the United States to escape her mother and her island past and takes up a job as an au pair for a wealthy white family. But that comes with its own set of challenges which inevitably forces her to confront her angst and the issues that remain from her life back home.

 

41. How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez:

Amazon

Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia sisters – Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia – arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence of maids, manicures, and extended family they left behind while dealing with the cultural and class transitions from privileged Dominicans to New York Hispanic immigrants.

 

42. Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

Amazon

With twisting chronology and raw openness, Cristina Garcia explores several generations of Cubans and Cuban-Americans during some of the most volatile moments of the country’s history.

 

43. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Dandicat

Amazon

Starting at age 12 and moving up to adulthood, Haitian immigrant Sophie Caco faces plenty of hurdles regarding her race, gender and language after moving to New York.

 

44. Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdulla

Amazon

Not only does the main character lose her husband in the tragic September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, she must subsequently contend with raising a handicapped child solo and Americans behaving in a hostile manner because of her Pakistani heritage.

 

45. How to Get Into the Twin Palms by Karolina Waclawiak

Amazon

Anya is a Polish immigrant in LA at odds with her heritage but not quite ready to embrace an American self either. What she really wants is to be Russian — though mostly so she can get into the glamorous-from-far-away Twin Palms, the Russian nightclub in her neighborhood. Clever and sometimes sad, Waclawiak’s book turns the traditional immigrant novel on its head.

 

 

46. My Antonia by Willa Cather

Amazon

We tend not to think of immigrant novels as taking place on the Nebraskan plain, but Cather’s story of American does that. Ántonia Shimerda, the daughter of a Bohemian immigrant, is a strong and willful woman trying to overcome not only her modest birth but her gender in this new strange country.

 

47. My New American Life by Francine Prose

Amazon

A 26-year-old Albanian woman named Lula, at the tail-end of her visa, takes a job looking after a disaffected teenage boy in New Jersey. Life is cushy for a while, but that heritage of hers soon comes around, asking her to do it dangerous favors. Darkly comic and bittersweet, Prose paints a shrewd portrait of immigrant life post-9/11.

 

48. Second Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta

Amazon

The classic tale of a Nigerian woman who overcomes strict tribal domination only to encounter the hardships of immigration. In the late 1960’s, Adah, a spirited and resourceful woman manages to move her family to London. Seeking an independent life for herself and her children she encounters racism and hard truths about being a new citizen.

 

49. Looking Both Ways: An Egyptian-American Journey by Pauline Kaldas

Amazon

Looking Both Ways is a collection of interlinked essays that explores family, language, politics, identity, and culture, often with a touch of humor. These essays move across time and space, beginning in Egypt and crossing the ocean to follow the author s travels and the challenges of adapting to American culture and creating a family in her new world. Together, these essays create the impression of a memoir as they weave together to reflect the larger narrative of immigration, while offering a unique vision into the Arab American immigrant experience.

 

50. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

Amazon

 Allende fled to Venezuela in 1973 after the coup that brought down Salvador Allende, the socialist leader and her father’s cousin. She moved to California in the late 1980s. Drawing on the circumstances of her own exile, Allende used her debut novel to tell a multigenerational saga that takes place in an unnamed country very much like Chile. We see the destruction of democracy and the rise of a cruel dictator who tries to eliminate all opposition. “I wanted to show that life goes in a circle, events are intertwined, and that history repeats itself, there is no beginning and no end,” Allende said about her sprawling, magic-realist narrative.


 51. In the Country by Mia Alvar

Amazon

In these nine globe-trotting tales, Mia Alvar gives voice to the women and men of the Philippines and its diaspora. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s stories explore the universal experiences 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—and marks the arrival of a formidable new voice in literature.

 


52. The Cooked Seed by Anchee Min

Amazon

An immigrant story that takes Min from the shocking deprivations of her homeland to the sudden bounty of the promised land of America, without language, money, or a clear path. It is a hard and lonely road. She teaches herself English by watching Sesame Street, keeps herself afloat working five jobs at once, lives in unheated rooms, suffers rape, collapses from exhaustion, marries poorly and divorces.But she also gives birth to her daughter, Lauryann, who will inspire her and finally root her in her new country. Min’s eventual successes-her writing career, a daughter at Stanford, a second husband she loves-are remarkable, but it is her struggle throughout toward genuine selfhood that elevates this dramatic, classic immigrant story to something powerfully universal.

 

 

53. Alex: My Life From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel by Alek Wek

Amazon

Born to a middle-class family in the Sudan, Wek found her life suddenly inverted when civil war broke out among outlaw militias, the Muslim-dominated government, and southern rebels. The conflict not only killed two million people, it created an entire community of refugees, including Wek’s family—many of whom fled to London. Here is Wek’s incredible, daring story of rising from refugee to international supermodel.

 

54. The Mango Bride by Marivi Soliven

Amazon

Amparo Guerrero and Beverley Obejas, both grew up in Manila, capital of the Philippines and they both end up in 1990’s Oakland through very different channels. Amparo leaves Manila in banishment from her affluent family and Beverly flees her home country as a mail-order bride, hoping to rise above her family’s legacy of impoverishment. For both women, they are connected and unified by loyalty to family and their Filipino culture as decades of family secrets come to light in the wake of violent tragedy, the effects of which cross countries and generations.

 

55. The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

Amazon

Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1936, the Schwarts immigrate to a small town in upstate New York. Here the father—a former high school teacher—is demeaned by the only job he can get: gravedigger and cemetery caretaker. When local prejudice and the family’s own emotional frailty give rise to an unthinkable tragedy, the gravedigger’s daughter, Rebecca heads out into America..

 

56. Comfort Woman by Nora Okja Keller

Amazon

 

Comfort Woman is the story of Akiko, a Korean refugee of World War II, and Beccah, her daughter by an American missionary. The two women are living on the edge of society—and sanity—in Honolulu, plagued by Akiko’s periodic encounters with the spirits of the dead, and by Beccah’s struggles to reclaim her mother from her past. Slowly and painfully Akiko reveals her tragic story and the horrifying years she was forced to serve as a “comfort woman” to Japanese soldiers. As Beccah uncovers these truths, she discovers her own strength and the secret of the powers she herself possessed—the precious gifts her mother has given her.

 

57. The Funeral Party by Ludmila Ulitskaya

Amazon

In a sweltering New York City apartment , a group of Russian émigrés gathers round the deathbed of an artist named Alik, a charismatic character beloved by them all, especially the women who take turns nursing him as he fades from this world. Their reminiscences of the dying man and of their lives in Russia are punctuated by debates and squabbles and what is happening across the world in their long-lost Moscow.

 

58. The Modern Voice of an Irish Immigrant by Imelda Cummins-DeMelkon

Amazon

The Modern Voice of an Irish Immigrant is author Imelda Cummins-DeMelkon’s fascinating account of her experience growing up in Ireland as one of twelve children, and the struggle for autonomy and independence that led to her choice of immigration to the United States. The author speaks honestly of the conflicts she experienced as a child and the overzealous paternal control that dominated her young life. The reader follows the author’s journey as it weaves between her experiences in both countries. Ultimately, The Modern Voice of an Irish Immigrant shows us that through a deep commitment to personal growth, one can indeed emerge whole and able to enjoy a full and complete life.

 

 

59. The Italian Immigrants’ Daughter by Gina Mossa Molino & Suzanna Rosa Molino

Amazon

The Italian Immigrants’ Daughter offers an authentic peek of first- and second-generation Italian life, as described by mother and daughter.The daughter of Italian immigrants from Sardinia, Italy, Gina Mossa Molino was plucked from the familiarity of American life at the age of 12 and shipped to Sardinia with her siblings and mother. In a ‘reverse emigration’ story, Gina shares detailed anecdotes of growing up in the 1930-40s in Brooklyn and the poor Italian village of Luras, Sardinia, under the watch of a strict Italian mother bravely raising three children alone, and lovingly guided by uncles and aunts. Gina’s daughter and coauthor, Suzanna Rosa Molino passionate about her Sardinian heritage, shares memories of growing up as the granddaughter of Nonna Antonica, a significant influence in Suzanna’s life. Today.

 60. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghost by Maxine Hong Kingston

Amazon

First published in 1976, The Woman Warrior has become a classic in its innovative portrayal of multiple and intersecting identities—immigrant, female, Chinese, American.  As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother’s “talk stories.” The fierce and wily women warriors of her mother’s tales clash jarringly with the harsh reality of female oppression out of which they come. Kingston’s sense of self emerges in the mystifying gaps in these stories, which she learns to fill with stories of her own. A warrior of words, she forges fractured myths and memories into an incandescent whole, achieving a new understanding of her family’s past and her own present.

 

61. Beloved Strangers: A Memoir by Maria Chaudhuri

Amazon

One of Maria Chaudhuri’s early memories growing up in Dhaka was planning to run away with her friend Nadia. Home was not an especially unhappy place, but in Maria’s family, joy was ephemeral. From Dhaka to Jersey City, Beloved Strangers is a candid and moving account of growing up and a meditation on why people leave their homes and why they sometimes find it difficult to return. This unforgettable memoir will resonate with anyone carving out a place for herself in the world, straddling two cultures while trying to find a place to belong.

 

62. Not for Everyday Use: A Memoir by Elizabeth Nunez

Amazon

 

Nunez ponders the cultural, racial, familial, social, and personal experiences that led to what she ultimately understands was a deeply loving union between her parents

Through her thoughtful and articulate writing, Nunez offers a valuable perspective on the racism that she experienced, even in America, and the damage the Catholic Church does to women who follow the ‘no artificial birth control’ rule. Recommended for memoir enthusiasts and readers interested in Caribbean literature.

 

63. The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang

Amazon

In search of a place to call home, thousands of Hmong families made the journey from the war-torn jungles of Laos to the overcrowded refugee camps of Thailand and onward to America. But lacking a written language of their own, the Hmong experience has been primarily recorded by others. Driven to tell her family’s story after her grandmother’s death, The Latehomecomer is Kao Kalia Yang’s tribute to the remarkable woman whose spirit held them all together. It is also an eloquent, firsthand account of a people who have worked hard to make their voices heard.