Immigrant Experience in America

For a fictional look at the immigrant experience in the United States, check out one of these novels.

Related event:
Joseph O’Neill discusses Netherland, Sept. 22, 2009

By Joseph O’Neill
O’Neill delivers a mesmerizing novel about a man trying to make his way in post-9/11 New York City, and the unlikely occurrences that pull him back into an authentic, passionately engaged life.

The Namesakebook jacket

The Namesake
By Jhumpa Lahiri
Expanding on her signature themes of the immigrant experience, the clash of culture, and the tangled ties of generations, Lahiri brings to her poignant first novel remarkable powers of emotion and insight.

My Life at First Try: A Novel
By Mark Budman
In this semi-autobiographical debut novel, Budman chronicles the life of the modern Russian Jewish immigrant. My Life at First Try is the story of Alex, born in Siberia in 1950, and his dreams of becoming a writer and of meeting Annie, his distant American cousin.

The Russian Debutante's Handbook
By Gary Shteyngart
Hilarious, yet true to life, this book follows the adventures of Vladimir, a young Russian immigrant, whose capitalist dreams and desires for a girlfriend lead him off the straight and narrow and into uncharted territory.

By Amy Bloom
This epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, who after her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
By Mohsin Hamid
Changez, a young Pakistani, is living an immigrant's dream of America. But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, which unearths allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.

Vita: A Novel
By Melania G. Mazzucco
In Vita, an award-winning Italian author weaves her own family history into a great American novel of the immigrant experience. A sweeping tale of discovery, love, and loss, Vita is a passionate blend of biography and autobiography, of fantasy and fiction.

The Joy Luck Club
By Amy Tan
In 1949, four Chinese women – drawn together by the shadow of their past – begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks, and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club – and forge a relationship that binds them for more than three decades.

More writing by Joseph O’Neill

Blood-Dark Track book jacket

Blood-Dark Track: A Family History
By Joseph O'Neill
The author investigates the histories of his two grandfathers – one Irish and the other Turkish – who were both imprisoned during World War II, and immerses the reader in memories of violence, a legacy of fierce commitment and political blindness, and the fear and complicity of the bystander in the sweep of history.

Dislocation: Stories from a New Ireland
Edited by Caroline Walsh
These eleven stories from Irish writers, including one by Joseph O’Neill, were selected by the literary editor of The Irish Times.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.