Biography – Immigrants in America

Focus on: Immigrants in America
Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream
by Deepak Chopra and Sanjiv Chopra

Brothers Deepak and Sanjiv Chopra immigrated to the U.S. from India to study medicine and became American citizens. In this joint autobiography, they relate their stories in alternating chapters, chronicling each of their paths to successful careers as physicians while reflecting on their Indian childhoods. They describe how they assimilated to American culture and offer insight into the differences in their careers (Deepak is well known for his promotion of alternative medicine, which Sanjiv doesn’t embrace). Brotherhood offers an engaging and informative read to biography fans, especially those who want to learn more about the Chopra brothers.

The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West
by Christopher Corbett

During the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, many thousands of people from China migrated to the western U.S. One of them, a concubine who took the name Polly, married an Idaho saloonkeeper named Charlie Bemis and lived with him for many years on their isolated farm. In 1923, after Charlie’s death, Polly emerged from the ranch and shared her story. In The Poker Bride, journalism professor Christopher Corbett relates Polly’s experiences and those of many other Chinese immigrants, especially young women. Fans of immigration history, women’s history, and the Gold Rush will want to grab this one.

The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life
by Jasmin Darznik

Iranian-American English Professor Jasmin Darznik knew nothing about her mother Lili’s first, arranged, marriage at age 13 in Iran. Jasmin also didn’t know that her mother had given birth at age 14 to a sister Jasmin had never met, nor that her mother was divorced before age 20. She discovered all of this after seeing a photograph from that first wedding and questioning her mother about it; Lili eventually sent several cassette tapes telling her story, providing the basis for Darznik’s richly detailed, absorbing account of three generations of Iranian women. For another memoir of an Iranian immigrant, try Gelareh Asayesh’s lyrical Saffron Sky.

Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy
by Carlos Eire

Author Carlos Eire won a National Book Award for his earlier memoir,Waiting for Snow in Havana, which describes his escape from Castro’s revolution in 1962. Eire picks up his story in Learning to Die in Miami, where at age 11 he faced linguistic and cultural barriers while coping with homesickness. In this “funny, furious, and heartbreaking” (Booklist) account, he describes how he “killed” his Cuban self in order to become fully American. In addition to offering a compulsively readable book, this memoir provides valuable insight into the immigrant experience.

Russian Tattoo: A Memoir
by Elena Gorokhova

Elena Gorokhova’s emigration from Russia in 1980 was enabled by marriage to an American who turned out to be unfamiliar with the concept of fidelity. From this dismal beginning Elena found ways to make her own way, marrying again and having a child (who became a rebellious teenager), bringing her old-style Stalinist mother to the U.S., and gradually adjusting to the wide cultural gaps. Her richly sensory reflections on immigration into a culture of immigrants offer a quietly compelling memoir that will linger in the reader’s mind.

List created 4/19/16 – James Hartmann

Adapted from Nextreads.

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