Thursday, June 11, 2009

Top 10 books on the migrant experience

Elise Valmorbida is the author of the critically acclaimed books Matilde Waltzing, The Book of Happy Endings and The TV President.

Her latest novel is The Winding Stick (Two Ravens Press).

For the Guardian, she named a top ten list of books on the migrant experience.

A little throat-clearing, and Number One on her list:
"If there's one common element in all my writing, it's an interest in migrants and migration. I guess it's natural given my own multicultural origins, but it's also at the heart of storytelling: the migrant brain is prone to metaphor – the perpetual balancing of here and there, different worlds in simultaneous play. And being translated. Being found in translation. Suitcases. Secrets. Invisible cities."

1. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

This slim book took many years to make. It's compelling, painful and exquisite. Here's the story of the Creole heiress who leaves the Caribbean for a life in England as the first wife of Mr Rochester. (Jane Eyre is the second.) Unpicking her like a hidden jewel from the weave, the author releases a minor character from a major text. She is a migrant bride, a misrepresented outsider, "the other woman", a mad thing in the attic …
Read about all ten books on Valmorbida's list.

A different Rhys book appears on Lynn Freed's list of "favorite books evoking the immigrant life."

--Marshal Zeringue