Saturday, May 30, 2009

Five best books about the immigrant life

Lynn Freed, author of the newly released novel The Servants’ Quarters, named "her favorite books evoking the immigrant life" for the Wall Street Journal.

One book on the list:
Lost in Translation
by Eva Hoffman
Dutton, 1989

Eva Hoffman divides her splendid memoir into three parts: Paradise (the Krakow of her childhood: “the wonder is what you can make a paradise out of ... a lumpen apartment ... squeezed into three rudimentary rooms with four other people”); Exile (Vancouver, to which her family emigrated when she was 13: “no solid wood here, no ­accretion either of age or dust”); and The New World (America: “Much of the time I’m in a rage. Immigrant rage, I call it”). Hers is a story suffused by nostalgia and rage. But also by meditations on culture and language and identity. And then one day, while teaching T.S. Eliot to American college students, she finds herself, at last, actually able to feel within the ­English language. She has arrived.
Read about all five books on Freed's list.

--Marshal Zeringue