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Three Books to Try

Check out these spectacular titles from immigrant authors! For more great options visit our Reference Desk today and we can hook you up with your next great read!

Behold the Dreamers
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Behold the Dreamers (eLibrary, CloudLibrary) by native Cameroonian and Rutgers Alum Imbolo Mbue won the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award and was featured on numerous best-of lists (The New York Times Book Review, NPR, and Kirkus Reviews to name a few).

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Under the Udala Trees
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria,  Chinelo Okparanta’s novel was seemingly nominated or short-listed for just about every major award. Inspired by the folktales of Nigeria Under the Udala Trees (eLibrary, CloudLibrary eAudio, Hoopla Audio) is a story about love and identity.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.

Brother I’m Dyning by Edwidge Danticat

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, Haitian born author Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying (eLibrary) is about the struggle of the immigrant experience.

From the age of four, award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she was both elated and saddened when, at twelve, she joined her parents and youngest brothers in New York City. As Edwidge made a life in a new country, adjusting to being far away from so many who she loved, she and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorated. In 2004, they entered into a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Brother I’m Dying is an astonishing true-life epic, told on an intimate scale by one of our finest writers.

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