Looking for a Good Immigrant Novel?

I just finished Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn. It is a wonderful depiction of a young Irish woman in the 1950s who comes to Brooklyn in search of work. Not only does she find a job in a Brooklyn department store, but she falls in love with a young Italian man who happens to be a die-hard Brooklyn Dodger fan. The book moves slowly as Toibin takes his time developing his lead character, Eilis Lacey. But by the end of the book you care deeply about her and the momentous decisions she must make as she straddles life in the Old World and the New and the tension between her Irish roots and her American dreams. I really like the way Toibin portrays the diversity of 1950s Brooklyn. The depictions and juxtapositions of Irish culture and Italian culture are really well-done.

4 thoughts on “Looking for a Good Immigrant Novel?

  1. Randall, if you are looking for something good on WW II or the Japanese-American experience check out Monica Sone, *Nisei Daughter*. I have taught it three or four times and it works very well.

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  2. Always looking for primary source material on the early 20th century and the immigrant experience.

    Would be nice to have a good memoir to use for the depression era. I assign Tim Egan's wonderfully written narrative of the dust bowl, The Worst Hard Time.

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  3. Have seen great reviews of this all over the place. Looks like it's worth the read.

    I've thought about using Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers (1925) for my US survey.

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