The Story of US Immigration – Novels for Adults

Welcoming Week (September 12-20, 2020) is a time for us to “affirm the importance of welcoming and inclusive places in achieving collective prosperity.” Find related JMRL programs here. Check out this selection of  novels for adults to learn more about the story of immigration in the United States.

 All descriptions from the catalog. 

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Separated by respective ambitions after falling in love in occupied Nigeria, beautiful Ifemelu experiences triumph and defeat in America while exploring new concepts of race, while Obinze endures an undocumented status in London until the pair is reunited in their homeland 15 years later, where they face the toughest decisions of their lives.

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar
A young Pakistani boy, whose parents left the fundamentalists behind when they came to America, finds transformation and a path to happiness through a family friend, Mina, who shows him the beauty and power of the Quran.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Follows ten-year-old Zimbabwe native, Darling, as she escapes the closed schools and paramilitary police control of her homeland in search of opportunity and freedom with an aunt in America.

Dominicana by Angie Cruz
The award-winning author of Soledad draws on her mother’s story in a tale set in a turbulent 1960s Dominican Republic, where a young teen agrees to marry a man twice her age to help her family’s immigration to America.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
Moving from Mexico to America when their daughter suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras confront cultural barriers, their daughter’s difficult recovery and her developing relationship with a Panamanian boy.

The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
The suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant impacts the lives of a diverse cast of characters, including his jazz-composer daughter, an undocumented witness, and an Iraqi War veteran.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
An immigrant working-class couple from Cameroon and the upper-class American family for whom they work find their lives and marriages shaped by financial circumstances, infidelities, secrets, and the 2008 recession.

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu
Lucky and her husband, Krishna, who are both secretly gay but hide the truth from their conservative families, find their arrangement compromised when Lucky returns home to care for a family member only to reconnect with her first lover.

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.


  1. I’d like to learn more about domestic violence in US history to put current events in some perspective. I know there was The Whiskey Rebellion in Washington’s first term and much later anarchist violence, not to mention The Weathermen in the 1970s. Is there some resource?

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