As we sluggishly make our way through the limbo period between Christmas and New Year, the team here at ImmiNews have decided to compile a list of just a handful of the excellent books published in 2019 – written by migrants, about immigration.
We appreciate that while we report on the most recent immigration news in an attempt to dispel the stigma and myths attached, it’s important to listen to those who have witnessed or experienced life as an immigrant first-hand.
With this in mind, we’ve listed our top 5 works of literature published in 2019 – fiction, non-fiction and poetry – which tell of the immigrant and refugee experience.
5. The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell you – Dina Nayeri
Having experienced life as a refugee in both the US and Europe, Dina Nayeri’s empowering work of non-fiction, The Ungrateful Refugee, urges its readers to reevaluate how they perceive immigrants. She challenges the notion that immigrants and refugees ought to shed their identity to adhere to Western ideals. Nor are they indebted to anybody.
While Nayeri’s own experience is prominent throughout, she also talks to other refugees who tell of their time in camps, lacking all hope and feeling that they are a burden. Nayeri’s key message is that no immigrant should be made to feel that they ought to be grateful for finding safety and refuge.
4. Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience – Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond
This authentic poetry collection addresses contemporary issues faced by both first and second generation teenage immigrants and refugees.
Emphasising both the universal and unique issues faced by teen immigrants, this collection speaks candidly on social exclusion, cultural differences, identity and racism. These vibrant voices offer hope to those they resonate with.
3. This Land is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto – Suketu Mehta
Suketu Mehta’s powerfully insightful book examines both his personal experiences as an immigrant who grew up in New York and presents interviews with other immigrants who have shared similar struggles.
Through a political lens, Mehta challenges the anti-immigration ideology which taints the West and breeds a vicious rhetoric of fear. He dispels populist myths and instead provides truths grounded in evidence.
2. Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats – Maya Goodfellow
Focusing specifically on immigration policy and the accompanying narrative in the UK, Maya Goodfellow explores how immigrants have become scapegoats under the Conservative government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy.
Criticising the commonplace tendency of politicians to blame immigrants for many of society’s ills, Goodfellow considers the rife anti-immigration sentiments of today and its predominance within the Brexit narrative a product of the UK’s colonialist past.
1. Lost Children Archive – Valeria Luiselli
Valeria Luiselli’s Booker Prize nominated novel, Lost Children Archive, has been hailed a poignant yet powerful portrayal of the refugee crisis in America.
Inspired by the ongoing crisis of children being separated from their parents at the Mexican-American border, Luiselli urges the reader to consider the trauma and devastation imposed upon refugees as a result of hostile immigration policies.