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The Lost Boys of Sudan: An American Story of the Refugee Experience

Bixler, Mark (2013).

In 2000 the United States began accepting 3,800 refugees from one of Africa’s longest civil wars. This book covers the story of four young men relocated to the United States of the thousands of “Lost Boys,” who had been orphaned or otherwise separated from their families in the chaos of a brutal conflict that has ravaged Sudan since 1983.

The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood

Blanco, Richard (2015).

A poignant, hilarious, and inspiring memoir from the first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet, which explores his coming-of-age as the child of Cuban immigrants and his attempts to understand his place in America while grappling with his burgeoning artistic and sexual identities.

Toward A Better Life: America’s New Immigrants in Their Own Words from Ellis Island to the Present

Coan, Peter Morton (2011).

Covering 120 years of immigration history, this a collection of oral histories presents immigrants and their relatives telling the true stories of their lives, in their own words. From interviews with well-known figures, like musicians Emilio and Gloria Estefan, to interviews with the relatives of Ellis Island’s first immigrant, Annie Moore, this book offers an expansive view of the immigrant experience and explores the politics of immigration on a personal level.

Brother, I’m Dying

Danticat, Edwidge (2008).

An autobiography narrative that begins in the country of Haiti and eventually ends in the United States. Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and, at the age of four, was left to be raised by her uncle while her parents moved to the United States. It wasn’t until the age of twelve that she able to be reunited with her family. She falls in love, marries, and eventually has a child. Edwidge’s father becomes terminally ill and she decides to write her family’s life story so that it can be shared with relatives that are still living in Haiti.

The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail

De Leon, (2015).

Anthropologist and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Jason De León sheds light on one of the most pressing political issues of our time—the human consequences of US immigration policy. The Land of Open Graves reveals the suffering and deaths that occur daily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as thousands of undocumented migrants attempt to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng

Eggers, Dave (2006).

A enthralling memoir, this is the story of Valentino Achak Deng the time he was separated from his family in Marial Bai to the thirteen years he spent in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, to his encounter with vibrant Western cultures beginning in Atlanta, to the generosity and the challenges that he encountered as he tried to adjust to his life in the United States.

Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language

Hoffman, Eva (1990).

The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Eva Hoffman recounts her struggles with her feelings of loss and lack of identity after she emigrated from Communist Poland to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1959 at the age of thirteen. The memoir explores her search for identity and meaning through her adolescent years in Canada, her university years in Texas and Massachusetts, and her move to New York City, where she becomes a writer and, eventually, an editor for the Times Book Review.

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States

Holmes, Seth M (2016).

An intimate examination of the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants in our contemporary food system. An anthropologist and MD, Seth M. Holmes shows how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care.

Angela’s Ashes

McCourt, Frank (1996).

McCourt open this memoir with a vivid description of his early years in New York City in the 1930s, as his family struggles with poverty and his father’s drinking problems. After the death of his youngest sister, his parents decide to move back to Limerick, Ireland. After his father abandons, Frank and his family struggle to make ends meet during the late 1930s and 1940s, but, at 19, he realizes his dreams of returning to the United States.

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

Mendelsohn, Daniel (2006).

Part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly investigation, this book explores the author’s search for the history of the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust.

Enrique’s Journey: The True Story of a Boy Determined to Reunite with His Mother

Nazario, Sonia (2006).

This book follows the quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mother, eleven years after she is forced to leave her starving family to find work in the United States. Braving unimaginable peril, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops.

The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America

Ngai, Mae

This book follows the story of the Tape family in post-gold rush, racially explosive San Francisco. Mae Ngai paints a picture of how the role of immigration broker allowed patriarch Jeu Dip (Joseph Tape) to both protest and profit from discrimination, and of the Tapes as the first of a new social type — middle-class Chinese Americans.

A Feather on the Breath of God

Nuñez, Sigrid (1995)

Part memoir, this book centers on the memories of a young woman who remembers the turbulent relationship between her Chinese-Panamanian father and German mother as she grew up in the a housing project in the 1950s and 1960s, the difficult life after her father died and her mother grew distant from her and her siblings, and her obsession with ballet as a form of escape from reality.

Our Stories: An Introduction to South Asian America

South Asian American Digital Archive

Bringing together the voices of sixty-four authors—including a wide range of scholars, artists, journalists, and community members—Our Stories weaves together the myriad histories, experiences, perspectives, and identities that make up the South Asian American community.

Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey

Tran, G.B (2010).

A memoir in graphic novel format about the author’s experiences as the son of Vietnamese immigrants who fled to America during the fall of Saigon describes how he learned his tragic ancestral history and the impact of the Vietnam War on his family while visiting their homeland years later.

The Devil’s Highway: A True Story

Urrea, Luis Alberto (2014).

Describes the attempt of twenty-six men to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, a region known as the Devil’s Highway, detailing their harrowing ordeal and battle for survival against nearly impossible odds, as well as the efforts of the enforcement agents determined to guard the border. Only 12 made it safely across.

Farewell to Manzanar

Wakatsuki Houston, Jeanne (1973).

This memoir focuses on the author and her family’s experiences with internment during World War II. After her father is arrested after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the rest of the family is relocated in the internment camp at Manzanar. Her brother enlists in the army to fight in the war and avenge the family name. As the war ends and they return to California, the family struggles to go back to their former lives.

Fifth Chinese Daughter

Wong, Jade Snow (1950).

In her memoir, Jade Snow Wong, the fifth daughter of an austere, large, and formal Chinese family, recounts her determination from a very early age to go to college and become more independent than her family expects her to be. Her decision sets off a balancing act among cultures that she explores with humor, reverence, and philosophical insight.