The immigrant experience is often a great topic for fiction. In this edition of Marie’s Monthly Minutes, we’ll look at three books that explore the adjustments that immigrants and children of immigrants have to make when they settle in America.
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
“Narrator Calliope “Cal” Stephanides is a Greek-American hermaphrodite who eventually becomes a 41-year-old male living in Germany and working for the US State Department. But prior to that—thanks to Cal’s assumed ability to “enter the heads” of his relatives and forebears—we’re treated to a comic saga that begins in 1922 in the Middle Eastern port city of Smyrna, where Cal’s paternal grandparents, Desdemona and Eleutherios (“Lefty”), fall into incestuous love, escape the Turkish siege of their homeland by finagling passage to America (en route to Detroit, where they have family), then, concocting new identities, marry while aboard ship.” Kirkus
House of Sand and Fog – Andre Dubus III
“Reeling from her husband’s abrupt departure, Kathy is living alone in the modest California bungalow she inherited from her father and has few material or emotional resources upon which to draw when a pair of sheriff’s deputies appear like creatures in a nightmare and evict her. It’s all a mistake, but before Kathy, a personification of fog, can straighten things out, Colonel Behrani, an exiled Iranian air force officer forced to work menial jobs to support his family, snaps up her home at auction for a third of its value, moves in, and prepares to resell it at a profit. Obdurate and full of fury and pride, Behrani is sand, and Dubus has set up a microcosmic conflict of profound cultural implication and tremendous dramatic impact.” Booklist
The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri
“This first novel is an Indian American saga, covering several generations of the Ganguli family across three decades. Newlyweds Ashoke and Ashima leave India for the Boston area shortly after their traditional arranged marriage. The young husband, an engineering graduate student, is ready to be part of U.S. culture, but Ashima, disoriented and homesick, is less taken with late-Sixties America.” Library Journal