Novels of the Immigrant Experience

A collection of stories about people from around the world coming to America.


Click on each title to learn the  availability


Alvarez, Julia

How the Garcia girls lost their accents

It's a long way from Santo Domingo to the Bronx, but if anyone can go the distance, it's the Garcia girls. They plunge from a life of privilege on an island compound into the big-city chaos of New York, where they embrace all that America has to offer.

Fiction Alvarez


Baker, Kevin


A literary tour de force in the tradition of E. L. Doctorow's "Ragtime" that delivers both a masterful, sweeping chronicle of an era of American history and an intimate portrait of .immigrant New York in the early part of the twentieth century.

Fiction Baker


Butler, Robert Olen

A good scent from a strange mountain

Butler's 15 stories, set in the Vietnamese enclaves of suburban New Orleans, capture the voices of people who have lost their homeland and are trying to adapt to an alien culture.

Fiction Butler


Cisneros, Sandra

The house on Mango Street

Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence this is a greatly admired novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago.

Fiction Cisneros


Desai, Anita

Fasting, feasting

The moving story of Uma, the plain older daughter of an Indian family, tied to the household of her childhood and tending to her parents' every extravagant demand, and of her younger brother, Arun, across the world in Massachusetts, bewildered by his new life in college and the suburbs.

Fiction Desai


Eggers, Dave

What is the what

An epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children--the so-called Lost Boys--was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven. When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges.

Fiction Eggers


Gaffney, Elizabeth

Metropolis:  a novel

Epic in sweep, Metropolis follows our hero from his arrival in New York harbor through his experiences in Barnum's circus, the criminal underground, and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, and on to a life that is at once unique and poignantly emblematic of the American experience.

Fiction Gaffney


Hijuelos, Oscar

Empress of the splendid season

Born into a wealthy Cuban family, Lydia grew up in luxury, surrounded by servants, but she outraged her strict father with her sexual escapades. Disowned and exiled, she ends up poor and alone on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Fiction Hijuelos


Jen, Gish

Typical American

As foreign students in New York, Ralph Chang, ``Older Sister'' Teresa, and Ralph's future wife Helen become trapped in the United States when the Communists assume control of China in 1948. Banding together, the three of them innocently plan to achieve the American dream, while retaining their Chinese values.

Fiction Jen


Lahiri, Jhumpa

The namesake

On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family.

Fiction Lahiri


Ortiz Cofer, Judith

An island like you: stories of the barrio

The contemporary teenage voices are candid, funny, weary, and irreverent in these stories about immigrant kids caught between their Puerto Rican families and the pull and push of the American dream.

YA Fiction Ortiz


Puzo, Mario

The fortunate pilgrim

the life of Lucia Santa Angeluzzi-Corbo, a Southern Italian immigrant who settles in New York in the 1920s.

Fiction Puzo


Rossi, Agnes

The houseguest

The year is 1934 and Edward Devlin, recently widowed and a disillusioned veteran of Ireland's struggle for independence, leaves his small daughter behind in Ireland and heads for America with not much more than his memories and a lingering desire for his beautiful dead wife.

Fiction Rossi


Stefaniak, Mary Helen

The Turk and my mother

As mysterious, complicated, and improbable as any real family, four generations are brought to vivid life in pages spanning the entire twentieth century, from the outer reaches of Siberia to the heartland of America.

Fiction Stefaniak      


Vapnyar, Lara

Memoirs of a muse

When Tatiania immigrates to America to pursue a graduate degree in history, she chooses to fulfill her destiny as a muse instead, readily abandoning the stifling immigrant enclave in Brighton Beach for a writer's Central Park apartment.

Fiction Vapnyar


Yezierska, Anzia

Bread givers

This masterwork of American immigrant literature is set in the 1920s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and tells the story of Sara Smolinsky, the daughter of an Orthodox rabbi, who rebels against her father's rigid conception of Jewish womanhood.

Fiction Yezierska