Reading List


Brother, I’m Dying, by Edwidge Danticat (2007)
The true-life story of Edwidge Danticat’s move from Haiti to New York City and the death of her Uncle Joseph after he was detained by U.S. immigration authorities.

Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, by Edwidge Danticat (2010)
A deeply personal reflection on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis.

Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey, by Ariel Dorfman (1998)
A memoir of Ariel Dorfman’s life and bilingual struggle of being an Argentine born in New York City and later resettling in his new home in Chile.

The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom, by Emilio Estefan (2010)
A historic chronicle that celebrates the accomplishments of the Cuban-American community, featuring the personal stories of exiles from all walks of life.

The Wind Doesn’t Need a Passport: Stories from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, by Tyche Hendricks (2010)
A portrait of the least understood and most debated region in the United States, depicting the stories of all types of individuals living on the border.

Immigration Law and the U.S.-Mexico Border, by Kevin R. Johnson and Bernard Trujillo (2011)
An exploration of the history and conflicts of the U.S.-Mexico border and the close relationship between the two countries.

Strength in What Remains, by Tracy Kidder (2009)
The true story of Deogratias, a young man from the central African nation of Burundi, who is forced to escape the ethnic violence in Burundi and the genocide in Rwanda and finds himself in New York City.

Train to Nowhere: Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation, by Colleen Bradford Krantz (2011)
The account of the “Denisen Eleven”–migrants from Central America who were smuggled across the U.S.-Mexican border and whose skeletons were found months later in Iowa where the railcar that was transporting them was abandoned.

Nation of Immigrants, by Susan F. Martin (2010)
Traces three immigrant groups and their reasons for coming to the United States that continue through today: the Virginia Colony brought laborers, Massachusetts attracted those with similar religious views, and Pennsylvania valued pluralism.

Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration, by Douglas S. Massey, Jorge Durand, and Nolan J. Malone (2003)
Documents how the massive expansion of border enforcement has wasted billions of dollars and hundreds of lives, yet has not deterred increasing numbers of undocumented immigrants from heading north. The authors also show how immigration enforcement policies unleashed a host of unintended consequences: a shift away from seasonal, circular migration toward permanent settlement; the creation of a black market for Mexican labor; the transformation of Mexican immigration from a regional phenomenon into a broad social movement touching every region of the country; and even the lowering of wages for legal U.S. residents.

Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran, by Azadeh Moaveni (2005)
An American-born daughter of Iranian parents, Azadeh Moaveni accepted an assignment for Time to report on the tumult in Tehran but ended up embracing the country and culture and finding her true self.

Enrique’s Journey, by Sonia Nazario (2006)
A true story of the odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.

Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, by Mae Ngai (2005)
This immigration history demonstrates the critical role that colonialism, foreign policy considerations, and racial politics played in shaping U.S. immigration and national identity.

Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives, compiled and edited by Peter Orner (2008)
A profile of several undocumented immigrants and how they suffer from unscrupulous employers and human smugglers and cope with the constant fear of deportation or imprisonment.

Latinos: Remaking America, by Mariela Páez and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco (2002)
A compilation of studies examining the social, cultural, racial, economic, and political effects of the growing Latin American population in the United States.

Ethnicities: Children of Immigrants in America, by Alejandro Portes and Rubén Rumbaut (2001)
An analysis of the children of immigrants in the United States and how these new ethnicities impact class, society and the American identity.

Immigrant America: A Portrait, Third Edition, by Alejandro Portes and Rubén Rumbaut (2006)
A discussion of the nature of foreign influx over the years, relating diverse patterns to U.S. official and unofficial policy as well as politics and living conditions in immigrants’ countries of origin.

Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation, by Alejandro Portes and Rubén Rumbaut (2001)
A comprehensive study of the second generation of immigrants in the United States and the changing face of America.

Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon, by Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa (2011)
The memoir of Dr. Q, or Freddy, as he used to be known when he was a nineteen-year-old undocumented migrant worker toiling in the tomato fields of central California. Dr. Quiñones is now an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist who leads cutting-edge research to cure brain cancer.

From Every End of This Earth: 13 Families and the New Lives They Made in America, by Steven V. Roberts (2009)
A timely look at immigration in the compelling profiles of thirteen families from China to Sierra Leone.

Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America, by Peter Schrag (2011)
A history of nativist movements and the reasons why their rhetoric has been so seductive at particular points in U.S. history.

Citizenship, Borders, and Human Needs, edited by Rogers M. Smith (2011)
This compilation of essays from leading international scholars explores the economic, cultural, political, and normative aspects of comparative immigration policies.

Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing, edited by Ilan Stevens (2009)
Over 80 immigrant writers share their stories about coming to America: the reasons for departure, the journey itself, the shock and spectacle of first arrival, the ambivalence toward the old country and the old life, and the struggle with the complexities of America.

Children of Immigration, by Carola Suárez-Orozco and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco (2002)
This book, written by the co-directors of the largest ongoing longitudinal study of immigrant children and their families, offers a clear, broad, interdisciplinary view of who these children are and what their future might hold.

 A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America, by Aristide R. Zolberg (2008)
A comprehensive account of U.S. immigration policy from the colonial period to the present. One of book’s great strengths is that it places U.S. immigration developments in a cross-national and comparative perspective.



How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julia Alvarez (1991)
A collection of vignettes as 39-year-old Yolanda returns to her home in the Dominican Republic after living in the United States for thirty years.

The Tequila Worm, by Viola Canales (2005)
The tales of a young girl growing up in McAllen, Texas as she decides whether to accept a scholarship to attend a boarding school outside of the barrio.

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (1988)
A series of stories of a young girl growing up in the Latino section in Chicago.

Breath, Eyes, Memory, by Edwidge Danticat (1998)
The journey of 12-year-old Sophie Caco as she moves from Haiti to New York City and grows to learn about her past.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz (2007)
A chronicle of the life of Oscar de Leon, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey, who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy novels and with falling in love.

Dreaming in Cuban, by Cristina García (1992)
Follows three generations of women and their families and the connections that draw them back to Cuba.

 Voyage, by Adele Geras (2007)
A young adult novel that depicts the hardships of steerage passengers and the range of attitudes, memories, biases, fears, and hopes immigrants feel as they come to America.

 A Free Life, by Ha Jin (2007)
After the Tiananmen Square massacre, Nan Wu decides to cut ties with China and move his family to the United States, where he learns to express himself through poetry in his newly adopted language, English.

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (2003)
The story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, who befriends the son of his father’s servant during a tumultuous time in Afghanistan.

The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, by Mohja Kahf (2006)
A novel about growing up as a Syrian immigrant in Indianapolis in the 1970s and the difficulties of being raised in a devout Islamic household.

Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri (1999)
A collection of short stories of Indian-Americans trying to make new lives in the United States.

The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)
Moving between events in Calcutta, Boston, and New York City, the novel examines the nuances involved with being caught between two conflicting cultures with their highly distinct religious, social, and ideological differences.

Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri (2008)
A reflection of life with two separate cultures, and how people cope with both, through short stories of Indian-Americans in the United States.

Free Food for Millionaires, by Min Jin Lee (2007)
After graduating from Princeton, Casey Han, the daughter of Korean immigrants living in New York City, finds herself trapped between her dull parents and the need to seek wealth to make life easier.

The Last Chicken in America, by Ellen Litman (2007)
Following the life of Masha, a Russian immigrant teenager in Pittsburgh, stories of her fellow immigrants are revealed, from a repressed housewife to a single mother to a widower looking to start over.

The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, by Dinaw Mengestu (2007)
Sepha Stephanos, an Ethiopian immigrant living in a gentrifying Washington, D.C. neighborhood in the 1970s, owns a run-down store where he compares American culture with the life he left behind.

Angels for the Burning, by David Mura (2004)
A collection of poems that explores the identities of various generations of Asian-Americans.

Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, by Bich Minh Nguyen (2007)
A Vietnamese girl comes of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (2007)
A migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long-forgotten time.

Shortcomings, by Adrian Tomine (2007)
A graphic novel that follows Japanese-American Ben Tanaka and his Korean-American girlfriend Miko Hayashi and their struggles in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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