The best modern memoirs and non-fiction books on immigration



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  • Much of America’s history is immigration history, and the best way to learn more about these experiences is by reading immigrant stories.
  • We’ve collected 16 contemporary memoirs, non-fiction books, and anthologies from immigrant and refugee writers including Ilhan Omar, Meredith Talusan, and Diane Guerrero.
  • Read more: The best books of February 2021, according to Amazon editorial staff

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America is defined by waves of immigration, with each individual story forming a precious thread in its long and complicated history. Works by immigrant or refugee authors detail the tangible and intangible expeditions of those who leave behind everything they know. And when told through the first-hand experiences, thoughts, and feelings of an immigrant, immigration memoirs blend vulnerability, strength, and trauma to tell an authentic story.

Perhaps you’ve read a classic school immigration memoir, like Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize winner Angela’s Ashes, detailing her life as a child of Irish immigrants living across the Great


, or “How the other half lives”, dano-american that of Jacob Riis 1890 documentation of the urban living conditions of immigrant and disadvantaged workers which then catalyzed massive reforms. Both books offer memorable portraits of immigrant life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and remain just as powerful today as they were decades ago. At the same time, many immigrant perspectives from these periods have never been printed, creating a gulf in our understanding of the full experience of American immigrants.

With that in mind, we’ve brought together contemporary memoirs, non-fiction books, and anthologies from immigrant, refugee and first-generation authors to help paint a fuller and more complete picture of the lives of modern immigrants. in America. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a starting point for learning more about immigration from different angles.

Here are 16 insightful modern immigrant memoirs and books that we recommend you read:

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